Wednesday, March 09, 2011

New Chairman of Law Society’s Master Policy brokers, Marsh & McLennan is Tory Peer Lord Ian Lang, linked to 90’s Scots Tory scandal cover-ups

Conservative Peer Lord Ian Lang, Baron Lang of Monckton has been named as the new Chairman elect of the US Insurance giant, Marsh & McLennan Companies, of which their UK arm, Marsh UK insure all Scottish solicitors under the infamous Master Insurance Policy, an arrangement enforced by the Law Society of Scotland requiring all Scottish lawyers & law firms to be a part of, if they wish to practice law. Lord Lang is listed in Marsh’s 2011 annual report as currently chairing their “Compensation Committee” as well as sitting on its Directors & Governance, Executive & Finance Committees.

While Lang’s appointment as Chairman was announced in a Press Release from Marsh UK last year, there was apparently no mention of the fact the Tory peer had been named in a 2005 Consolidated Class Action against Marsh & McLennan Companies, which claimed : “Defendant Lang has been a director of Marsh since 1997. Lang was Chairman of the Company's Audit Committee between 1998 and 2001 and has also served on the Board's Executive, Compensation and Governance Committees. During the Class Period, Lang signed SEC filings containing materially false and misleading statements.”

The Class Action, which can be downloaded in its entire 291 page form, HERE went onto allege Lord Lang, along with several other identified directors of MMC were involved in supplying ‘materially false & misleading statements’ : “Defendants Greenberg, Wijnberg, Rapport, Cabiallavetta, Fanjul, Groves, Hardis, King, Lang, Olsen, Simmons, Sinnott, Smith, King and Schapiro either authorized registration statements containing materially false and misleading statements and/or served as directors at the time the Company issued securities pursuant to false and misleading registration statements.”

In 2004, the Independent newspaper reported that : “Lord Lang of Monkton, the president of the Board of Trade in the last Conservative government, is being sued for his role as a director of Marsh & McLennan, the US insurance broker accused of orchestrating a massive fraud against customers. Lord Lang is one of a number of directors accused of breaching their fiduciary duty to Marsh's shareholders in a class action organised by the New York law firm, Goodkind Labaton Rudoff & Sucharow. The move is a blow for Lord Lang, who has kept a low profile since Marsh was last month accused by New York's combative Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, of manipulating insurance bids to collect inappropriate fees. The action increases pressure on Lord Lang to step down from Marsh's board.

Goodkind's case alleges Marsh forced its employees to use their retirement savings programmes to invest heavily in its shares. Employees face heavy losses since the company's stock plunged after Mr Spitzer's allegations."Marsh's 'bid rigging' schemes were fraudulent and illegal, and have opened the company up to massive civil and criminal liability. For these reasons, the defendants knew or should have known that Marsh stock was an imprudent investment alternative for the [retirement] plans," the claim says.”

Lord Lang joined the Marsh McLennan Companies Board in 1997. He chaired the Audit Committee from 1998 to 2001 and has served as chair of the Compensation Committee since 2007. Lord Lang began his career as an insurance broker. He later served as a member of the British Parliament from 1979 to 1997; in the Cabinet as President of the Board of Trade and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry from 1995 to 1997; and as Secretary of State for Scotland from 1990 to 1995.

MMC’s profile on Lord Lang fails however, to mention activities reported in the Scottish Press in March 1997 where Lang was accused of being among “Tory top brass who covered up the gay double-life of shamed chairman Sir Michael Hirst” during a series of reports on appointments within the Conservative Party in Scotland at the time which were later claimed to have “buried the party in Scotland”.

The reports from the Daily Record stated : “Tory top brass covered up the gay double-life of shamed chairman Sir Michael Hirst. Former Scots Secretary Ian Lang knew about his homosexual affairs with TWO young Tories. But he took no action after Hirst denied the flings with former researcher Andrew Barnett and personal assistant Paul Martin. Barnett blurted out the secret at the party's Brighton conference two years ago. One senior Tory said: "This went all the way to Ian Lang."

Earlier this year, Lord Lang who is also now the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, which vets the jobs of former ministers was back in the news, attempted to justify the ‘Establishment’ make-up of his committee, which comprises four peers, two knights and a dame. The Daily Mail newspaper reported that Lord Lang said : “Bus drivers, waitresses and other people in ‘unimportant’ jobs are not fit to sit in judgement on the business interests of former ministers.”, more on which can be read here : Bus drivers and waitresses? Those sorts of people aren't important claims Tory peer

The Daily Mail article also reported on Lord Lang’s interests :

Former Cabinet minister Ian Lang knows more than most about the links between the worlds of politics and big business. Lord Lang, who served as trade secretary under John Major, has carved out a highly lucrative portfolio of private interests since losing his seat at the 1997 election.

The 70-year-old peer, who was educated at Rugby School and Cambridge University, is a director of no fewer than five corporations. His most prominent role is at giant U.S. insurance firm Marsh and McLennan, where he due to become chairman in May this year. He is also a non-executive director at the hedge fund Charlemagne Capital and the Russian energy firm SoyuzNefteGaz. Other directorships include Ukrainian wine company OJSC Sun Valley and management consultants SI Associates.

Last year Lord Lang was one of a number of senior politicians caught up in a sting by Channel Four’s Dispatches programme. Researchers set up a fake lobbying firm to establish what politicians would be prepared to offer. Lord Lang submitted his CV and went for an interview. But he insisted yesterday that he had never agreed to lobby on behalf of the firm’s clients and had only been interested in a job on its advisory board.

Marsh & McLennan Companies Press Release of last year stated : “The Board of Directors of Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. (MMC) announced today that Ian Lang, Lord Lang of Monkton, will succeed Stephen R. Hardis as Independent Chairman of the MMC Board of Directors when Mr. Hardis retires from the Board in May 2011.”

“I am honored to be taking the role of Independent Chairman of this Board of experienced leaders,” commented Lord Lang. “Steve Hardis has set the bar high, but I look forward to following his fine example in seeking to help MMC achieve its strategic goals and in providing value for shareholders.”

The MMC 2011 annual report made little mention of Lang’s history, simply stating : “Our following directors were marked as “Flagged (Problem) Directors” by The Corporate Library due to their Marsh & McLennan board tenure when MMC was sued by the State Attorney General for alleged bid rigging, price fixing, and kickbacks: Gwendolyn King, Stephen Hardis, Adele Simmons, Oscar Fanjul, Morton Schapiro and Ian Lang. Our entire Nomination and Executive Pay committees were filled with “Flagged (Problem) Directors.” Nonetheless “Flagged Director” Ian Lang will become our Chairman in 2011.”

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