Court heard that premium was secretly diverted to an offshore entity for profit

Markel has won its case in the Commercial Court in London against the individuals behind Surety Guarantee Consultants Limited (SGC).

SGC, which is now in liquidation, was a niche firm of surety bond underwriters set up by Tim Higgins. The other individuals involved in SGC were Barry Williams, Cliff Felstead and Ralph Brunswick. For a short period of time in 2005, SGC held a binding authority granted by Markel to issue certain specified bonds.

In the action, Markel sought damages for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. An identical action was begun by QBE, which granted a binding authority to SGC following the termination of the Markel binding authority.

The action was started by Markel obtaining worldwide freezing injunctions and a search and seizure injunction against SGC following the identification by Markel of a systematic fraud orchestrated upon it, whereby, amongst other things, premium was diverted by way of a secret profit to an offshore entity owned by three of the defendants.

Markel was successful against all defendants, each of whom was found to have acted dishonestly in respect of one or more aspects of the operation of SGC, and Markel will be pursuing all avenues to effect a recovery.

“Markel is delighted with this result and will be referring the matter to the relevant regulatory and other authorities,” said Markel International’s chief administrative officer, William Stovin. “We take these kind of issues extremely seriously and will always pursue them with the ultimate vigour.”