The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Caitlin MacNeal,COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER,(202) 347-1122,

POGO's Concerns About Insurance Companies Confirmed by SIGTARP Report


A new audit released today
by the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program
(SIGTARP) confirms concerns raised by the Project On Government
Oversight (POGO) about insurance companies gaining access to bailout
funds that were intended for banks.

The SIGTARP's audit examined the use of TARP funds by six firms,
including two large insurance companies: Hartford Financial Services
Group and Lincoln National Corporation. Hartford and Lincoln were able
to obtain a total of $4.3 billion in taxpayer funds under the TARP's
Capital Purchase Program (CPP), even though the Treasury Department claimed that CPP funds would be used to "invest up to $250 billion in U.S. banks that are healthy, but desire an extra layer of capital for stability or lending" (emphasis POGO's).

As POGO pointed out in a letter to Congress
last December, Hartford and Lincoln were able to qualify for these
funds by acquiring smaller banks and thrift savings institutions. POGO
noted at the time that "these companies' back-door efforts to access
TARP funds is a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the
[Emergency Economic Stabilization] Act and does not comport with the
real interests of the taxpayer."

The SIGTARP's audit echoed POGO's concerns, finding that the
participation of these insurance companies "was incongruous with the
spirit and intent of the CPP program." Moreover, the SIGTARP reported
that the amount of CPP funds provided was determined by the assets of
the parent insurance companies, not just the assets of the smaller
thrifts, and that the companies ended up using little or no CPP funds
to support the activities of the smaller thrifts.

"The public has every right to be upset about large insurance
companies hiding behind small banks in order to feed at the TARP
trough" said POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian. "This just
confirms that Treasury needs to do a much better job of enforcing the
terms of its own bailout programs, and ensuring that TARP recipients
aren't abusing taxpayer funds."

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more effective, accountable, open and honest federal government.