By Frank Whalen
While Americans mourned the tragedies of the 9-11 attacks, World Trade Center (WTC) complex owner Larry Silverstein had other things in mind, particularly cashing in on insurance money from the properties he had purchased on July 24, 2001.
In an entry dated Sept. 12, 2001, History Commons cited author Steven Brill as stating: “According to two people who called him that morning to offer their sympathy, Silverstein soon changed the subject. [He] told one of the callers that the way his insurance policies were written, two planes crashing into the two towers had been two different occurrences, not part of the same event.” Brill added that: “Silverstein’s lawyers claimed the developer had been on the phone to them on the evening of 9-11 wondering whether his insurance policies could be read in a way that would construe the attacks as two separate, insurable incidents rather than one.”
To understand this situation: In 2001 the WTC complex was viewed by real estate moguls as a white elephant. With a low occupancy rate, toxic asbestos that would cost $200M to remove, substandard elevator systems and an outdated technological network, nobody could understand why Silverstein would purchase this albatross for a $124M down payment, which, in hindsight, now looks like a steal of a deal.
Six weeks later, Silverstein began angling for a $7B double-indemnity payout on his $3.55B insurance policies. Although he waged a lengthy courtroom battle that would last six years, Silverstein eventually collected $4.56B from his investment in the WTC leases.
Seven insurance companies out of 24 agreed to settle with Silverstein. Those companies were: Travelers Cos., Zurich American Insurance Co., Swiss Reinsurance Co., Employers Insurance Company of Wausau, Allianz Global Risks U.S. Insurance Co., Industrial Risk Insurers and Royal Indemnity Co.
However, a glaring oddity still remains: Insurance companies are notorious for investigating every aspect of every claim made against a policy, regardless of how seemingly insignificant. The reason is that the legwork cost of such investigations usually pales in comparison to the money saved from a payout.
Here is where this situation gets interesting: Silverstein didn’t have one company insuring his properties—he had 24. From a business perspective, it’s reasonable to conclude that 24 separate insurance policies were taken out to spread the financial burden so that all of the companies would be able to pay a portion without going bankrupt. Having multiple insurance companies also minimized public scrutiny enough so that stockholders wouldn’t ask why CEOs were agreeing to pay out such enormous sums based solely on the government’s questionable version of events.
Nonetheless, the question remains: Why would any of these companies agree to compensate Silverstein when there were countless reasons for denying his insurance claims?
Based on the facts of this story, it appears that the payouts were agreed upon in order to lend credence to the government’s official account of what took place on Sept. 11, 2001. If any of these 24 companies had seriously challenged the official version of events, the entire house of cards would have collapsed like the World Trade Center towers.
Going even deeper, in a September 29, 2006 article entitled “9-11 and the Greenberg Familia,” Jerry Mazza pinpoints another major player in this scam: Maurice Greenberg. As a former deputy chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and former director of the New York Federal Reserve, Greenberg also has notable CIA ties and is known as the godfather of insurance giant AIG.
Mazza wrote: “The three companies who originally insured the WTC were AIG, Marsh [McLennan] and ACE, all run by the Greenbergs at the time. They then sold stakes in the original contract to their competition, a technique called reinsuring. Once the towers came down, the reinsurers got caught holding the bag. This would inextricably tie the Greenbergs to Silverstein and the larger conspiracy of 9-11. If they had no foreknowledge of the events to occur, why would the Greenbergs have unloaded so many stakes in their contract?”
Greenberg also has a decades-old connection to Henry Kissinger, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and members of Mossad. Furthermore, Greenberg became partners with Jules Kroll in 1993. Conveniently, Kroll & Associates was responsible for security at the WTC towers on Sept. 11, 2001. Some researchers have even concluded that Greenberg’s AIG served as a successor to BCCI, the most corrupt money-laundering syndicate in history.
Greenberg’s son Jeffrey was chairman of Marsh McLennan, one of the three companies that originally held insurance claims for Silverstein before dumping it to reinsurers, while Greenberg’s other son Evan was CEO of ACE Ltd., the third company holding insurance claims for Silverstein before peddling them elsewhere.
In the end, Silverstein pocketed $4.56B, while the Greenberg family profited from dumping Lucky Larry’s insurance policies on other unsuspecting companies before they were compelled to shell out a single penny.
Adding insult to injury, Greenberg’s AIG has received, to date, at least $85B in bailout money from U.S. taxpayers via a loan from the Federal Reserve.
Frank Whalen has been a radio talk show host for the past 17 years, and worked as a consultant for Maxim magazine. For more news and views from Frank, see www.frankwhalenlive.com.