The former head of Transit Casualty Co., a high-risk insurer that left up to $4 billion in unpaid claims when it crumbled in 1985, has pleaded innocent to a charge of filing a false financial statement.
George Pettengill Bowie, 64, Transit's former chairman and chief executive, entered the plea Thursday in Circuit Court after his indictment by a Cole County grand jury, county prosecutor Richard Callahan said Sunday.
Transit's court-appointed liquidator, Burleigh Arnold, said Transit left $3 billion to $4 billion in unpaid claims in all 50 states from mainly corporate customers with high-risk insurance policies, including policies on race horses and toxic waste dumps.
That made Transit the biggest property and casualty insurance failure ever in this country, said Michael Barrett Jr., staff director for the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which is probing the case.
Callahan kept the indictment sealed until Sunday.
The charge stems from the company's 1984 financial statement, which indicated a $21.9-million surplus when in fact Transit's records were "incomplete, inaccurate, unauditable and in such a state that it was impossible to construct an accurate financial statement," the indictment said.
The statement was filed with state regulators.
"Their records were so unreliable they shouldn't have filed anything," Callahan said.