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LONDON-Britain's Serious Fraud Office is to join the international investigation into the alleged insurance fraud perpetrated by Dai Ichi Kyoto Reinsurance Co. S.A., which collapsed at the end of 1995 owing millions of dollars to U.S. and U.K. insurers and brokers.
A spokesman for the Serious Fraud Office confirmed that the SFO has become involved at the request of Belgian police, who are already working with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Brussels-based Dai Ichi Kyoto and its reinsurance units Kobe Reinsurance Co. S.A. and North American Fidelity & Guarantee collected premiums during the first half of the 1990s, but allegedly their operations were merely a cover for fraud. The companies had claimed to be strongly backed by numerous Japanese pension funds and a U.S. bank, but subsequent investigations have shown that the former did not exist and the latter was secretly owned by Dai Ichi.
In addition to attempting to track down the millions of pounds which disappeared from Dai Ichi bank accounts in London, the SFO is likely to become involved in the search for Irishman Steven Baker, who posed as the group's European liaison officer and is believed to be behind the charade.
The spokesman would say nothing more about the terms of the investigation.
Commenting on the fact that the SFO's involvement comes a year after the Belgian authorities first requested its help, he said the SFO received authorization only last month to become involved in the investigation.