A high flying investment group in Stamford gave Norman Eisler a chance to rebuild his career, after he had resigned in disgrace from chairing the New York Futures Exchange (NYFE) amid allegations of price fixing. And what does Eisler allegedly do? Walk off with the firm’s trade secrets to set up his own shop, according to allegations in a lawsuit filed earlier this month.
The company, Capital Credit Group, invests in the very new, very complicated world of “life-settlement” insurance, where complete strangers can benefit from someone else’s death. Here’s how it works, according to the Wall Street Journal: Companies like Capital approach older individuals and offer to lend them money to buy a pricey life insurance policy. The loan’s term is typically two years. The borrower gets a big policy without having to put up any money out of pocket. If the borrower dies before the end of the two years, then his beneficiaries pay off the loan with the proceeds of the policy.But if the borrower is still alive at the end of the two years, he’s got two choices. He can pay off the loan and take full ownership of the policy (which generally happens if the borrower’s health has worsened). Or, he can sell the policy to companies like Capital to cover the cost of the loan. When the guy dies, then it’s Capital (or another third party investor) who collects the death benefit- not the borrower’s family. Michael Krasnerman, an experienced insurance executive, decided to get into this business in 2003, according to his lawsuit. Krasnerman hooked up with business executive Philip Schatten, who was responsible for coming up with the financing.It was Schatten’s idea to hire Eisler, the lawsuit said. Eisler had been NYFE chairman until 2000, when he resigned. The NYFE is a subsidiary of the New York Stock Exchange.Eisler used his position on NYFE to manipulate settlement prices of certain futures in order to boost earnings in his own accounts, according to a consent order from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Eisler neither admitted nor denied these allegations.“Despite some misgivings about Eisler stemming from Eisler’s departure and alleged regulatory misconduct… Krasnerman followed Schatten’s advice” and hired Eisler, the lawsuit said. Eisler became the company’s Chief Operating Officer. However, “Schatten and Eisler agreed to form a competing business in retaliation for Krasnerman’s decision to seek funding for [Capital’s] business that did not rely on or involve Schatten,” the lawsuit said.In the weeks leading up to Eisler’s resignation on September 7, 2005, he started acting “odd,” the complaint alleged. He asked an employee to make electronic copies of case files. He started denying routine underwriting approvals for a disproportionate number of cases. He asked for a small USB thumb drive, which he then used to transfer a large amount of company data to his own personal computer, the complaint said. Shortly after leaving CCG, Eisler went to work at RAI Group, formed by Schatten to compete with Krasnerman. It is the plaintiffs’ contention that Eisler’s “odd” behavior was actually his way of unlawfully absconding with confidential company data.“RAI Premium Finance has made an offer to at least one producer for a case that CCG had shown an offer on,” the lawsuit said. “RAI’s offering term sheet included terms that were just slightly better than CCG’s, which indicates Eisler is using his knowledge of RAI’s Premium Finance product to underbid CCG and to compete unfairly.“Called for comment at RAI, both Schatten and Eisler declined, sending word through a secretary that they had not yet seen the lawsuit.