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Fireman's Fund to pay $44 million to settle U.S. charges

Fireman's Fund to pay $44 million to settle U.S. charges

(Reuters) — Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. agreed to pay $44 million to settle U.S. charges that it knowingly issued policies that did not qualify for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's federal crop insurance program, and also falsified documents.

The settlement announced on Monday by the U.S. Department of Justice resolves claims brought under the federal False Claims Act.

Fireman's Fund, a unit of Germany's Allianz S.E., was accused of backdating policies, forging farmers' signatures, accepting late and altered documents, whiting out dates and signatures and signing documents after deadlines had passed.

The affected policies were issued by six U.S. offices between 1999 and 2002, when Fireman's Fund sold and serviced crop insurance policies on which the USDA reinsured some of the risks, the Justice Department said.

Crop insurance protects farmers against losses attributable to natural disasters such as disease, droughts, floods, freezes and hail, as well as falling commodity prices.

The Justice Department said the Fireman's Fund settlement involved no determination of liability.

Richard Manson, a Fireman's Fund spokesman, declined to comment. The insurer has offices in Novato, California.

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