Trump Insurance Fraud Investigators Seek Decade Worth of Broker Records
Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons
On the heels of testimony by the president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, the insurance industry has been dragged into the legal and political intrigue swirling around the White House.
In Case You Missed It …
Michael Cohen, the President’s former lawyer and self-described “fixer” was questioned for three days last week by the House Oversight Committee regarding the president’s connections with Russia, alleged hush money paid on Trump’s behalf to a former porn star, and Cohen’s role in Trump’s financial dealings.
What Does Insurance Have to Do With It?
Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) questioned Cohen on Feb. 27 about whether Trump had ever inflated his assets when reporting to insurance companies. Cohen responded in the affirmative, suggesting that misrepresentations had been made at Trump’s direction to an insurer, as well as to Deutsche Bank and the IRS.
As of yet, it remains unclear whether the insurance misrepresentation in question was related to a policy placement or a claim.
On Monday, New York State Department of Financial Services (DOFS) subpoenaed Aon, the president’s long-time insurance broker, requesting documents related to the president’s insurance contracts.
The nine-page subpoena requests “a broad range of materials regarding Aon’s business with Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization dating back to 2009,” according to a New York Times source.
What Do They Want?
The New York regulators are requesting copies of the insurance policies ultimately issued to Trump and the Trump Organization, as well as applications and financial statements used to secure the policies. They’re seeking copies of all communications between Aon and Trump and the Trump Organization, records of all contracts and agreements between Aon and Trump, and also records of compensation for current and former Aon employees who have handled Trump or Trump Organization accounts.
The subpoena requests that Aon submit all documentation by March 19. Regulators could then issue additional subpoenas or requests to underwriters and potentially other companies or individuals identified in response to the subpoena.
There have been no suggestions by regulators that Aon engaged in any wrongdoing. Aon has confirmed that the subpoena was received, and stated its intention to cooperate fully with N.Y. regulators.
The DOFS inquiry could lead to a referral to prosecutors of any potential insurance fraud the president may have committed by misrepresenting his finances. DOFS can also issue fines against companies and individuals it regulates.
Is There More to the Story?
Trump has dismissed regulators’ inquiries as politically motivated. Some have suggested that the targeted questions surrounding Trump’s finances are a strategic ploy to force the release of Trump’s tax returns for the past 10 years.
But regardless, investigators aren’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth. If investigators secure valid evidence to support a charge of bank, tax or insurance fraud, it’s likely to be pursued to the full extent of the law.
How Long Is This Going to Go On?
“We will act quickly to gather this information, assess the evidence and follow the facts where they lead with full transparency with the American people,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the Judiciary Committee chairman, in a public statement.
But none of this is likely to happen quickly. It could take DOFS investigators several months to analyze all the information they collect.
Nadler’s office dispatched letters and requests for documentation to 81 agencies, individuals and other entities tied to Trump, including aides, family members, The Justice Department and the FBI.
As of December, there were at least 17 known investigations into Trump’s activities, led by U.S. attorneys from the Southern District of New York, D.C., and Virginia, the State of New York, several state attorney generals, and the Mueller investigation. &