Appellate judge orders NY Insurance Dept. to turn over MBIA-related emails
A New York appellate judge is permitting a limited search of New York State Insurance Department emails to uncover any communications that could suggest bias by the Empire State regulators when they agreed to approve the 2009 restructuring of mortgage insurer MBIA Inc. The discovery request is tied to a major legal action involving MBIA and the state insurance department. In the original complaint, the plaintiffs — including Bank of America and others — alleged the New York Insurance Department and its former superintendent, Eric Dinallo, approved "one of the largest fraudulent conveyances in history" by allowing MBIA to create a second mortgage insurer, using $5 billion siphoned from the company's original insurance subsidiary. The plaintiffs allege executives within the state's insurance department at the time ignored their statutory duties when ruling in favor of granting MBIA's request to split up its insurance business. The motion granted by the judge this week permits a search of all relevant emails sent and received during the first two months of 2009. The email search will be limited in scope to communications that include the search terms "MBIA" and "transformation." The probe also will be limited to emails sent between or among Dinallo, as well as Jack Buchmiller, Hampton Finer, Michael Moriarty and Scott Fischer. The New York State Insurance Department declined to comment on the order granting the email search. Any records recovered will be turned over to a judicial hearing officer for that party to determine the relevance of the emails, according to court records. Filings in the case indicate attorneys representing the insurance department motioned against the email search on the grounds that they believe there are "zero" emails tied to the plaintiffs' request. Parties familiar with the matter said the department's legal team also saw the request as being too broad, considering this is an Article 78 case, which is generally more limited when it comes to discovery. Write to Kerri Panchuk.