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Report: General Re in settlement talks
Buffett's reinsurance company may be exploring options to resolve federal criminal probe.
June 13, 2005: 8:43 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - General Re Corp. may be in talks with the government to settle a criminal probe of whether the reinsurance firm helped American International Group manipulate its finances, according to a published report Monday.

General Re is a unit of Warren Buffett's holding company, Berkshire Hathaway (Research).

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the situation, said one option is for General Re to enter what is known as a "deferred-prosecution" pact, under which the company would agree to settlement terms, such as a fine and probation, to avoid indictment.

However, the paper said the parties are not close to an agreement. And further disclosures from the probe could jeopardize any deal with the Justice Department, according to the report.

The Journal said the Securities and Exchange Commission and the New York attorney general's office are also investigating the General Re/AIG (Research) reinsurance transaction at issue.

The article states that two former General Re executives have pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy to commit fraud, stemming from their respective roles in structuring the AIG transaction about five years ago, which authorities said allowed AIG to improperly boost its reserves.

Richard Napier, a General Re senior vice president,pleaded guilty to criminal fraud charges on Friday. Earlier last week, John Houldsworth, a former head of General Re's Cologne Re unit, pleaded guilty to the same charges.

Both men, who are cooperating with authorities, face up to five years in jail and fines of at least $250,000, the Journal said.

The paper said General Re declined to comment on the story.  Top of page

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