Liberty underwriter pleads guilty in Spitzer probe

August 8, 2005

NEW YORK, Aug 8 (Reuters) - An underwriter at Liberty International Underwriters has pleaded guilty to a charge of restricting competition, the latest plea in New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's probe into bid-rigging and price-fixing in the insurance industry.

The underwriter, Kevin Bott, pleaded to a charge connected to his business dealings with Marsh & McLennan Cos. (MMC.N), the world's largest insurance broker, according to Brad Maione, a spokesman for the attorney general.

Marsh agreed with Spitzer in January to pay $850 million to settle bid-rigging and other charges.

According to a complaint filed by Spitzer, Marsh would ask Bott to submit unattractive bids for certain business, so the broker could steer that business to other insurers.

Bott pleaded to a misdemeanor and agreed to testify in the future. He faces a maximum of one year in prison. His lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

Liberty International is a unit of Liberty Mutual Group, the insurer.

In all, 16 insurance executives have since last year entered guilty pleas in various Spitzer probes.

Last week, five insurance professionals pleaded guilty to fraud and restraint of trade charges before New York Supreme Court Justice James Yates.

Copyright © 2005 Reuters

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