From the May 2005 Idaho Observer:
Shareholder challenges "Lucky Larry’s" $7.2 billion Twin Tower insurance claim
by Greg Szymanski
A shareholder has filed a grievance against one of the world’s largest insurers, charging company bigwigs with failing to investigate possible insurance fraud in relation to a $7.2 billion pay out being litigated over the 9/11 attacks.
John Leonard of California claims management of the Allianz Group, a German-based company carrying a significant portion of the insurance coverage on the WTC, relied on faulty government 9/11 reports and then negligently failed to mount any significant fraud investigation to protect stockholder interests against future excessive pay outs.
"The managing and supervisory boards have taken a passive attitude toward the insurance claims and the suspicious aspects of the WTC insurance loss," said Leonard, whose grievance was to be heard at a May 4 stockholders’ meeting. No official word from the company has yet been released.
He added, "The WTC catastrophe was doubtless one of the biggest insurance incidents in history. The investigation of insurance losses and insurance damage claims against the company is naturally one of the chief duties of the management of every insurance firm. The suspicious irregularities of the WTC attacks just have not been addressed."
After the attack, Silverstein Properties and Westfield America, the partnership who leased the WTC just months prior to the attacks, commenced litigation against its insurers, including Allianz—one of the major policy holders.
Leading partner, Larry Silverstein, boldly asserted he was entitled to twice the insurance policy value because, according to a spokesman for Mr. Silverstein:
"The two hijacked airliners that struck the 110-story twin towers Sept. 11 were separate ‘occurrences’ for insurance purposes, entitling him to collect twice on $3.6 billion collective worth of the policies."
The ensuing legal battle between the insurers and leaseholders then began one month after the attacks, ending with a favorable ruling for Silverstein by U.S. District Judge John S. Martin in December 2004. The judge, by agreeing with Silverstein that the two planes that hit the WTC were actually two separate occurrences for insurance purposes, actually doubled Silverstein’s possible future recovery from $3.6 billion to $7.2 billion.
The case is now on appeal and in order to protect any adverse ruling against Allianz, Leonard has attempted to instigate management to initiate fraud investigations with his shareholder grievance. In his proposal, the California native and a publisher of books on 9/11, pointed to reports that building WTC 7 apparently collapsed by demolition unrelated to the 9/11 attacks as well as many other irregularities.
"Numerous observers and researchers find the WTC case very suspicious. For example, in a public opinion survey, 49.3% of respondents in New York City agreed that ‘some of our leaders knew in advance that attacks were planned on or around September 11, 2001, and that they consciously failed to act," wrote Leonard in his grievance.
"When this belief is so widespread among unrelated parties, haven’t the affected insurance companies ever asked whether perhaps the U.S. Government instead of the insurers is responsible for the damages, or whether the possibility of insurance fraud has been investigated?
"From reports in the media about the trial in New York between the insurers and the insured WTC leaseholder, no sign of such motions has been made public. The dispute has been mainly over the question, whether to pay out $7 billion or only $3 billion, whereby the shareholders are supposed to be relieved at the latter sum as a victory of the lesser of two evils."
In his shareholder grievance, Leonard lastly called management to pay strict attention to the strange collapse of WTC Building No. 7.
WTC-7, as is well-known, was never struck by airplanes, and photographs of it show only insignificant fires. Nevertheless, the 47-story building at WTC 7 suddenly collapsed at around 5:28 p.m. on 9/11. This fact, however, was not even mentioned in the report of the official 9/11 commission."
Besides the enormity of the possible insurance pay outs, independent 9/11 investigators have also called attention to the peculiar timing and control of ownership made by Silverstein only months before the WTC attacks.
The WTC came under the control of a private ownership of Silverstein for the first time on April 26, 2001, having been built and managed by the New York and New Jersey Port Authority as a public resource since its creation in 1972.
Silverstein then acquired a handsome insurance policy for the complex, including a clause that would prove extremely valuable in the not too distant future. The clause specifically read that "in the event of a terrorist attack, the partnership could collect the insured value of the property, and be released from their obligations under the 99-year lease."
Don Paul, in his 2002 book that investigated the nature of the Silverstein transaction, provided some interesting background information highlighting the incredible deal and low bidding price the new owner was able to negotiate with friendly New York government officials.
"Silverstein’s winning bid was $3.2 billion for holdings estimated to be worth more than $8 billion. JP Morgan Chase, a prestigious investment-bank that’s the flagship firm of its kind for Rockefeller family interests, advised the Port Authority, another body long influenced by banker and builder David Rockefeller, his age then 85, in the negotiations," Paul wrote.
"The lead partner and spokesperson for the winning bidders, Larry Silverstein, age 70, already controlled more than 8 million square feet of New York City real estate. WTC 7 and the nearby Equitable Building were prime among these prior holdings. Silverstein also owned Runway 69, a nightclub in Queens that was alleged 9 years ago to be laundering money made through sales of Laotian heroin."
The lease deal on the WTC finally was transferred to Silverstein, officially closing on July 24, 2001, just 6 weeks prior to the 9/11 attacks. It is estimated that Silverstein Properties could walk away from the WTC disaster with a $2 billion net.
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