Georgia Insurance Commissioner asked to resign by Governor following federal fraud accusations

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Georgia’s insurance commissioner Jim Beck has been asked to resign by Governor Brian Kemp following an indictment that was delivered Tuesday for 38 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering which allegedly occurred before his election in November.

Beck, who was sworn into office on Jan. 14 had previously served as the general manager of operations for the Georgia Underwriting Association, “which was created to provide high-risk property insurance to Georgia homeowners,” according to previous reporting by the Associated Press.

The indictment also alleges that Beck stole $2 million up to November 2018 when he ran for statewide office.

“The indictment says Beck, a Republican, used the money for personal expenses and to fund personal investment, retirement and savings accounts, as well as his statewide election campaign. The indictment also says he used the funds to buy and improve personal rental property and for personal state and federal income taxes,” reports the AP.

“While Beck served as General Manager at GUA, he also maintained controlling financial interests in two businesses known as Creative Consultants and the Georgia Christian Coalition.  Beginning in 2013, Beck allegedly talked four associates into forming four separate businesses which supposedly supplied necessary services including residential property inspections and water damage mitigation to GUA,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak.

While an FBI investigation is in progress, according to the Department of Justice, some information from the department has been included in the indictment announcement.

“The FBI investigation found that Beck abused the trust of friends and his employer (GUA), in an elaborate scheme to enrich himself at GUA’s expense,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The indictment is a testament to the fact that the FBI will expend all resources necessary to hold those who seek to enrich themselves through fraud and deceit, accountable for their actions.”

Beck allegedly set up “an elaborate system of fradulent invoicing which included producing false documentation and concealing the truth from his four associates,” says the DOJ. He also allegedly “regularly approved substantial GUA payments to the four new companies,” before sending fraudulent invoices from “Creative Consultants and the GA Christian Coalition” to those same four companies.

“At Beck’s direction, his four associates paid the fraudulent invoices form a portion of the money they had been paid by GUA.” This activity, between February 2013 and August 2018, is what constituted the alleged defrauding of $2 million.

While Beck’s attorney Bill Thomas said that his client will be fighting “to clear his good name,” Governor Kemp has requested the Commissioner’s resignation because “In light of this connection and the possibility of new revelations, it would be highly inappropriate for you to continue to hold public office. I ask that you do what is right for our state and step down immediately.”

Request for comments from the Department of Insurance yielded a short statement from their Communications Director.

“The accusations that were made against Commissioner Beck yesterday have no bearing on his service as an elected official to the people of Georgia. The Commissioner maintains his innocence and he is entitled to the same presumption of innocence that every citizen of Georgia walks into a courtroom with when accused of a crime. The Department is focused on fulfilling the vital mission we have to protect Georgia consumers,” said Brandon Wright.

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