FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., March 11 (UPI) -- A now-closed Florida insurance company whose executives have been charged with running an investment scam also laundered drug cartel money, authorities allege.
U.S prosecutors in January charged the two top executives, lead attorney and trustee of Mutual Benefits Corp., of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with organizing an elaborate Ponzi scheme that cheated investors out of nearly $1 billion.
Court documents obtained by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel indicate the executives also are suspected of fraudulently selling life insurance policies on people with fatal diseases to Latin American narcotics traffickers, who allegedly cashed the policies out early as a way to launder the drug money.
U.S. and Florida regulators shuttered Mutual Benefits in 2004, seizing its assets, and since then nine employees have been convicted on a range of federal fraud charges.
Mutual Benefits' Joel Steigner, his brother Steven Steiner, attorney Michael McNerney and trustee Anthony Livoti have all pleaded not guilty to fraud and money laundering charges, the Sun-Sentinel reported. None of them have been charged in connection with any alleged drug-related transactions, the report said.