Insurance broker Willis in $120 million settlement on Stanford Ponzi scheme
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By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) - The insurance brokerage Willis Towers Watson Plc (NASDAQ: WLTW) has agreed to pay $120 million to settle litigation accusing it of helping now-imprisoned Texas financier Allen Stanford run a $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme, court papers show.
The papers, in which Willis denied wrongdoing, were filed on Wednesday with the federal court in Dallas. The accord requires court approval.
In a lawsuit, investors and a court-appointed receiver for Stanford's companies accused Willis of providing letters describing the insurance policies and touting the credentials of the swindler's Antigua-based Stanford International Bank.
They said Willis did this with an expectation that Stanford would use the letters to lure investors into buying his bogus offshore certificates of deposit and assure them that his business was sound and their investments were safe.
The settlement is the largest in 7-1/2 years of litigation brought on behalf of roughly 18,000 former Stanford investors, Edward Snyder, a lawyer for the Official Stanford Investors Committee, said in an email on Thursday.
Overall settlements total well over $300 million, Snyder added. Many lawsuits remain pending.
In a regulatory filing, London-based Willis said it has set aside reserves to cover its settlement.
A spokesman, Josh Wozman, declined to comment on Thursday.
Stanford's fraud was uncovered in 2009. Now 66, he is serving a 110-year prison term following his March 2012 conviction.
The case is Janvey et al v. Willis of Colorado Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, No. 13-03980. The main Stanford litigation is SEC v. Stanford International Bank Ltd et al in the same court, No. 09-00298.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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