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SUPERINTENDENT OF INS. OF NEW YORK v. BANKERS LIFE

June 3, 1969

SUPERINTENDENT OF INSURANCE OF the STATE OF NEW YORK, as Liquidator of Manhattan Casualty Company, Plaintiff,
v.
BANKERS LIFE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, Irving Trust Company, Belgian American Banking Corporation, Belgian American Bank & Trust Company, Garvin, Bantel & Company, New England Note Corporation, George K. Garvin, John F. Sweeny, the Estate of Standish T. Bourne, by Standish T. Bourne, Jr., as Executor, the Estate of James F. Begole, by Patricia C. R. Begole, Executrix, Defendants


Herlands, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: HERLANDS

HERLANDS, District Judge:

The issue for decision is another illustration of the recurring problem whether plaintiff's claim belongs in the state courts or whether plaintiff has stated a cause of action under the federal securities laws - the Securities Act of 1933 (1933 Act), 15 U.S.C. § 77a et seq. (1964) and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (1934 Act), 15 U.S.C. § 78a et seq. (1964), and the pertinent rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission. This question is posed by motions made by three of the defendants to dismiss the complaint.

 The movants are defendants Bankers Life and Casualty Company ("Bankers Life"), Belgian American Banking Corporation ("Belgian American Banking"), and Belgian American Bank and Trust Company ("Belgian American Trust").

 The grounds of the motions are (1) that there is lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter; (2) that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; and (3) that plaintiff lacks the requisite standing to recover damages for alleged violations of the 1933 and 1934 Acts.

 Defendants maintain that plaintiff may not recover because (i) it *fn1" is neither a defrauded purchaser nor a defrauded seller of securities within the meaning of the 1933 and 1934 Acts, and (ii) these federal statutes have never been and should not be interpreted so as to make them applicable to remedy the injury allegedly resulting from the facts asserted in the complaint. A comprehensive restatement of the facts alleged in the complaint is requisite for a comprehension of the following discussion of the critical legal issues. *fn2"

 EVENTS PRIOR TO JANUARY 24, 1962

 Manhattan Casualty Company ("Manhattan") was a New York corporation engaged in the insurance business. At the beginning of the period under consideration, Bankers Life was the owner of all of the outstanding shares of Manhattan stock. The management of Manhattan apparently was distinct from that of Bankers Life.

 During the fall of 1961, Bankers Life decided to discontinue its ownership of Manhattan. Sometime in November, 1961, *fn3" Bankers Life, through James W. Bourland, a vice-president of Bankers Life, commenced negotiations for the sale of all the Manhattan stock. The prospective purchasers were two individuals, defendants Standish T. Bourne and James F. Begole.

 At about the time that Bankers Life decided to sell its Manhattan stock, it ousted the defendant John F. Sweeny from the presidency of Manhattan. *fn4" Sweeny, however, established contact between Begole and Bourne and Bankers Life. Probably at that time, Sweeny also arranged with Begole and Bourne that he should be reinstated as president of Manhattan when, and if, Begole and Bourne acquired control of Manhattan.

 The negotiations drew to a successful conclusion. On January 19, 1962, a contract for the purchase and sale of all the Manhattan shares was entered into by Bankers Life (still through Bourland, as its vice-president) and Begole, individually. Begole, alone and in his own name, was to purchase the Manhattan shares. He agreed to deliver to Bankers Life at the closing on January 24, 1962 a bank check or certified check in the amount of $5,000,000.

 The complaint does not charge that any misrepresentations, deceit or non-disclosures had been made or practiced upon any party in connection with this contract of purchase and sale. The complaint is devoid of allegations respecting the net worth of Manhattan or its general financial position; thus, there is nothing upon which to base any finding as to the equity or unfairness of the contract.

 Financing

 Sometime after January 19, 1962 but before the closing date (January 24, 1962), Bourne had stated to Begole that he, Bourne, would arrange for the financing of the stock acquisition. Bourne made contact with defendant George K. Garvin (a partner in the note brokerage firm Garvin, Bantel & Company, also a party defendant) and asked Garvin to have a bank issue certificates of deposit in the face amount of $5,000,000 and then to have a bank make a loan, using the certificates as collateral. Other than the conclusory statement that the purpose of these two transactions was to conceal the scheme to defraud, there is nothing in the complaint's factual allegations that would explain the significance of these two transactions which, taken together, appear to be self-cancelling.

 Acting upon Bourne's request, Garvin, prior to January 24, 1962, arranged with Belgian American Trust to issue a certificate of deposit in the face amount of $5,000,000, in the name of Manhattan. The complaint is silent, however, as to whether Belgian American Trust was informed of the method of payment for this certificate of deposit. Presumably, it was so informed. Garvin also arranged with Belgian American Banking to loan to defendant New England Note Corporation - a company controlled by Bourne - $5,000,000 upon the collateral of the certificate of deposit that would be issued in the name of Manhattan.

 Also in preparation for the closing of January 24, 1962, Garvin met with C. Joseph Gunther, an officer of defendant Irving Trust Company. Gunther agreed to bring to Garvin's office on January 24, 1962 a check in the amount of $5,000,000 payable to Bankers Life. This check was to be paid for by the delivery of various securities from Chemical Bank New York Trust Company to Irving Trust Company.

 TRANSACTIONS OF JANUARY 24, 1962

 The Closing, the Payment for the Manhattan Shares, and the Sale of Manhattan's Portfolio

 On the morning of January 24, 1962, Bourne, Sweeny, Begole, and Gunther appeared at Garvin's office. Begole then executed two notes, *fn5" both payable to New England Note Corporation. One was in the amount of $5,000,000, interest payable at 7 1/2 per cent; the other in the amount of $250,000, interest payable at 5 per cent. The complaint is silent as to whether these notes were delivered. Begole also executed in favor of New England Note Corporation an assignment of the Manhattan stock that he would receive. The economic purpose underlying these transactions is neither explained nor readily discernible.

 Sweeny, Begole, Garvin, and Gunther then went to Manhattan's office for the closing of the sale of Manhattan stock. Gunther handed the $5,000,000 Irving Trust Company check to Leo Lehane, an executive vice-president of Bankers Life, and received in return an unsealed envelope. The complaint contains no other allegations pertaining to the actual closing. It would be sheer speculation to assume that the envelope did or did not contain the shares of Manhattan stock.

 Nevertheless, Begole and Bourne presumably did obtain possession of the shares of Manhattan stock at some point because (as will be detailed later) these shares apparently were physically tendered as security for a loan.

 Once the ownership of the shares of Manhattan stock apparently changed hands on January 24, 1962, the following took place: United States Government securities owned by Manhattan, in the face amount of $5,155,000, were delivered through Garvin, Bantel & Company to Irving Trust Company.

 During the same day of January 24, 1962, Garvin, Bantel & Company sold these securities for Manhattan's account. Irving Trust Company delivered these securities to the purchaser and received the proceeds of $4,854,552,67, which amount it then credited to an account in Manhattan's name.

 Manhattan (by some person not named) then transferred some cash to Irving Trust Company, which amount was also credited to this Manhattan account.

 Finally, the $5,000,000 check of Irving Trust Company that Gunther had handed to Leo Lehane of Bankers Life was charged against this same Manhattan account in Irving Trust Company - which had been built up by the crediting of the proceeds of the sale of Manhattan's portfolio of United States Government securities plus the additional Manhattan cash.

 The net effect of the foregoing series of financial manoeuvres appears to be, up to this point, as follows:

 (i) Bankers Life received $5,000,000 in cash for which it had ostensibly delivered all of its Manhattan stock;

 (ii) Presumably, Begole (or possibly Bourne - through New England Note Corporation - as a result of Begole's prior assignment of the Manhattan stock Begole would receive) owned all of the stock of Manhattan;

 (iii) Manhattan's portfolio of United States Government securities had been sold off;

 (iv) Manhattan transferred some cash to Irving Trust, thereby further building up its account;

 (v) Irving Trust applied the total credit - created out of the Manhattan portfolio proceeds and the Manhattan cash - to the payment of the $5,000,000 Irving Trust check which Gunther had given Lehane of Bankers Life;

 (vi) As a result, Manhattan's net assets were diminished by approximately $5,000,000; and

 (vii) Payment of $5,000,000 to Bankers Life for the purchase of its Manhattan stock was effected by using Manhattan's own assets to pay for all of its stock, which Begole or Bourne thereby obtained without using a dollar of their own money.

 Though the complaint is devoid of factual allegations on the point, apparently Sweeny assumed the office of president of Manhattan immediately after the acquisition of the Manhattan shares. *fn6" Conceivably it was he who directed the Chemical Bank to deliver Manhattan's portfolio of United States Government securities to Irving Trust, authorized the sale of these securities, and then transferred Manhattan cash to Irving Trust in order to cover completely the $5,000,000 Irving Trust check payable to Bankers Life.

 The complaint is explicit, however, in charging that Sweeny, in his capacity as president of Manhattan, effected other transactions on January 24, 1962.

 The Certificates of Deposit

 Later that day, Gunther, at the request of Garvin, Bantel & Company, brought another Irving Trust check in the amount of $5,000,000, payable to Belgian American Trust, to the offices of Belgian American Trust. Gunther gave the check to Sweeny who delivered it to someone at Belgian American Trust. Belgian American Trust then issued a six-months certificate of deposit in the amount of $5,000,000 in the name of Manhattan, pursuant to Garvin's prior discussions with Belgian American Trust. Sweeny received the certificate of deposit and, in his capacity as president of Manhattan, immediately endorsed it to New England Note Corporation.

 Bourne, as president of New England Note Corporation, accepted the certificate of deposit from Sweeny; and, in turn, Bourne endorsed the certificate to Belgian American Banking. *fn7"

 Belgian American Banking then made a six-months loan of $5,000,000 to New England Note Corporation and took possession of the certificate of deposit as collateral.

 Belgian American Banking drew a $5,000,000 check, apparently payable to Irving Trust Company and delivered it to Gunther.

 To recapitulate for a moment at this point:

 (1) Irving Trust Company in effect exchanged its $5,000,000 check payable to Belgian American Trust for a $5,000,000 check drawn by Belgian American Banking, payable to Irving Trust Company.

 (2) Belgian American Trust issued a $5,000,000 certificate of deposit which in reality was paid for by the $5,000,000 emanating from Belgian American Banking in the form of the loan in the same amount made by Belgian American Banking to New England Note Corporation and collateralized by ...


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