Former Independent boss Michael Bright continued to present his defence against charges of conspiracy to defraud this week, as he was cross examined by prosecution lawyers.
Bright, founder of the insurance firm that famously collapsed in 2001, insisted that he had not been aware of information being withheld from auditors, actuaries and reinsurers.
Tuesday’s questioning centred on Independent’s relationship with its reinsurer, Ireco.
Bright maintained that he had acted in good faith despite submissions from the prosecution.
Under cross examination from Andrew Baillie QC for the Serious Fraud Office, on Monday, Bright admitted that there were documents that went across his desk.
“Had I spent more time,[they] would have told me that there was significant money not included in the case reserves.”
He also admitted that he knew about abuse of the reinsurance whiteboard (where a record of unregistered claims was kept).
But Bright accused senior staff of manipulating figures to keep him quiet and said that he was not a details man.
He said: “I don’t believe I ever asked for reserves to be kept off the system. I have already made the point that I knew from various documents that you have put in front of me.
“I happened to be aware of lists [of reserves that had not been entered on the system]. But I do not believe that I ever asked for information to be kept back, and I don’t believe that, other than in a drive for accuracy – which I must admit I was paranoid about – I don’t believe that I did anything else.”
Bright, former chief executive of the £1bn company, said he had not understood the significance of certain key documents.
Bright, a 62-year-old diabetic, returned to the witness box on Monday following his near collapse while under questioning the previous Friday.
The judge ordered that he be given a break after each hour of quest-ioning, and the session adjourned early again on Monday when he said he was having trouble focusing.
In his first evidence session two weeks ago, Bright broke down in tears as he described the state of the business in its final years.
He said: “Every time we turned something over, something else nasty, black and crawly crept out.”
Michael Bright, Philip Condon and Dennis Lomas deny charges of conspiracy to defraud.
The case continues.
Bright in his own words
Until May 1998, I thought we had the finest insurance company in Europe. I was wrong. We had a black cancer inside eating us from the inside out
We were beginning to discover appalling mismanagement, and I am amazed I took notice of much that was going on at this time
I have not and never did place limits on the amount of reserves that should go on the system, quite the opposite