Firm accused of steering business to Allen Stanford

Jul 22, 2009

A lawsuit filed in Miami federal court accused a major insurance firm of encouraging people to invest money with accused swindler Allen Stanford.

Miami Herald Staff

A Venezuelan investor is accusing a global insurance broker of playing a key role in Allen Stanford’s banking empire, saying the company enticed thousands to invest in now worthless securities.

The federal suit filed Friday in Miami alleges that Willis Group Holdings provided letters to investors vouching for the financial integrity of Stanford’s certificates of deposit, now the focus of a massive federal fraud case.

Filed as a class-action by Venezuelan resident Reinaldo Ranni, the suit says the global insurance broker issued “safety and soundness” letters that were given to clients in Miami and elsewhere.

Ranni says he invested more than $2.7 million after he was shown the letters at Stanford’s Miami office.

“My client would not have placed deposits with Stanford if he had not been given the letters,” said Miami attorney Luis Delgado.

“The claims were absolutely false.”

Will Thoretz, a spokesman for Willis’s New York offices, said the company declined to comment on the case.

Stanford, 59, and top lieutenants have been indicted on federal fraud charges in what prosecutors are calling a $7 billion Ponzi scheme.

Willis is now a major tenant in Chicago’s former Sears Tower, which was renamed Willis Tower last week.

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