Breyer's Investments `Reckless,' Sen. Lugar Charges

By Tim Poor Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), July 27, 1994 | Go to article overview

Breyer's Investments `Reckless,' Sen. Lugar Charges


Tim Poor Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


CONTRARY TO HIS public assertions, Supreme Court nominee Stephen G. Breyer will be unable to resign from his investment in Lloyd's of London by the end of next year, a congressional opponent said Tuesday. Some other Lloyd's investors agreed.

Sen. Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind., told reporters that Breyer would continue to be liable for losses sustained by one of the Lloyd's syndicates that insures companies against losses from environmental cleanups. The extent of the syndicate's losses will be determined largely by court rulings on environmental law, Lugar said.

"This is a gentleman who was either careless or injudicious in the handling of his personal affairs," Lugar said. "It's not that he made a bad investment, but that the nature of the investment is inextricably involved in pollution and asbestos law and will continue to be."

Lugar is the only senator to announce that he will vote against Breyer when the Senate votes on the nomination this week. He said "an increasing number" of senators had expressed concern to him, although none has committed to joining his opposition.

"They're not necessarily convinced, but they're disturbed," Lugar said.

The Lloyd's investments came up briefly in Breyer's three days of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which unanimously recommended last week that he be confirmed.

Breyer told the committee that he would immediately "ask the people who handle my investments to divest any holdings in insurance companies as soon as possible." He said he had resigned as an investor in Lloyd's in 1988, although he could not quickly extricate himself from the most controversial syndicate, "Merrett 418," the one that writes environmental insurance policies.

"I have been advised that I can leave altogether by the end of 1995, but I intend to ask the people involved to expedite my complete termination of any Lloyd's relationship. I'll be out of that as soon as I possibly can be," said Breyer, who is a federal appeals judge in Boston.

Breyer's office referred reporters to the White House, which did not return inquiries Tuesday. On Monday, it made public a letter to Lloyd Cutler, the White House counsel, from Lloyd's of London attorneys, saying that Lloyd's was forming NewCo, a reinsurance company that would be established by the end of next year to cover the syndicate's liabilities and take Breyer and other investors off the hook.

Lugar and burned Lloyd's investors are skeptical about that plan. They say that if the reinsurance company goes broke, Breyer and others still will be liable for Lloyd's losses. …

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