Tampa Bay Times by Susan Taylor Martin
In a response this month to a lawsuit against him, Dr. Akshay Desai says regulators pressured CFO Alec Mahmood into cooperating with them or face being blackballed from the insurance industry. The response says Mahmood “secretly and criminally” recorded at least 11 conversations with Desai and other Universal executives as regulators moved to put the company into receivership.
Universal filed for bankruptcy in February 2013 and shut down a month later after FBI agents raided its headquarters. The company’s collapse left more than 800 employees without jobs, scores of providers unpaid and thousands of members searching for alternative Medicare Advantage plans to cover their health care needs.
“We ultimately came to the conclusion that the state of Florida acted somewhat nefariously in orchestrating the receivership and they were doing a deal with someone (Mahmood) who was committing a crime,” said attorney Daniel Nicholas, who represents Desai.
In allegedly recording Desai and others without their permission, which would violate state law, Mahmood “was possibly hoping they would incriminate themselves, but they never did,” Nicholas said.
A judge in Tallahassee could rule Friday on a motion that could eventually require Desai to relinquish $2.5 million in compensation he received while at Universal’s helm. But in his response, Desai says he was entitled to the money because Universal was solvent, contrary to what Mahmood had led regulators to believe.
Mahmood could not be reached for comment. Calling Desai’s allegations “entirely baseless,” Florida’s Department of Financial Services said in a statement Wednesday that it gave Mahmood “absolutely no assurances” about his future employment.
“As this matter relates to ongoing and active litigation, no further comments will be provided,”‘ the statement said. [READ MORE]