Greg Evan Lindberg, who was born in 1970 in San Mateo California, is a former business executive and founder of Global Growth, a conglomerate private-equity firm.
In 1991, while still attending Yale University, Lindberg launched Home Care Week, a health insurance compliance and reimbursement newsletter for home health agencies. He later transformed this venture into a conglomerate, Eli Global, based in Durham, North Carolina. The conglomerate operated as a private-equity firm.
In 2012 Lindberg began investigating the possibility of acquiring insurance companies, displaying a particular interest in the large number of assets retained by such companies to fulfill payouts. In 2014 Eli Global made its first insurance acquisition when it purchased a burial-policy insurer based in Alabama.
Lindberg wished to loan the insurer’s assets to other businesses he owned, but the number of the company’s assets he could invest in affiliated enterprises was restricted by Alabama state laws. Lindberg then relocated the insurer to North Carolina, where regulations on such practices were vaguer, and began trading the burial-policy insurer’s investments in treasury bonds for large loans in his own companies.
Though North Carolina regulators usually enforced a cap of affiliated investments on insurers at 10% of their assets, the North Carolina Department of Insurance led by North Carolina Commissioner of Insurance Wayne Goodwin reached a special agreement with Lindberg, allowing his burial-policy insurer to invest as much as 40% of its assets in affiliates, though this limit was also eventually breached.
In 2015 and 2016 Lindberg acquired more insurers and grouped them together as the Global Bankers Insurance Group. Global Bankers Insurance Group, which in turn is part of a larger group of companies known as Global Growth (formerly known as Eli Global), which is owned by Greg Lindberg.
Lindberg ultimately loaned about $2 billion from the insurance companies he had acquired to his affiliated corporations, using much of it to expand his private holdings. By 2019 he had acquired over 100 companies.
On June 27, 2019, the North Carolina Department of Insurance placed several of Lindberg’s insurance companies into “rehabilitation”, citing concerns about their liquidity and ability to meet their obligations to policy holders.
In late July 2019, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed a legislative proposal – created in reaction to Lindberg’s investment strategy and widely dubbed “the Lindberg bill” – into law setting a statutory limit on affiliated investments by insurers at 10% of their assets. Eli Global was re-branded as Global Growth in September and Lindberg resigned as its chief executive officer.
On March 18, 2019, Lindberg, two business associates, John Gray and John Palermo Jr., along with the chair of the North Carolina Republican Party, Robin Hayes, were indicted by a federal grand jury for financial crimes including wire fraud and bribery.
According to the indictment, Lindberg and his associates – coordinating with Hayes – promised to donate millions of dollars to the North Carolina Republican Party in exchange for favorable treatment of Global Bankers Insurance Group by Causey and the dismissal of the deputy insurance commissioner responsible for regulating Lindberg’s businesses.
On March 5, 2020, Lindberg was found guilty of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and bribery by a jury and On August 19, Lindberg was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison. However on June 29, 2022 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned his conviction, ruling that the jury instructions supplied by the judge in the original proceedings poorly described what constituted an “official act” and stating that a new trial should be held. He was released from prison on July 15 and a retrial of that case was scheduled to begin in March 2023.
Meanwhile, last month federal prosecutors announced that federal grand jury in Charlotte returned an indictment charging Lindberg with masterminding and directing a massive scheme to deceive state insurance regulators and defraud thousands of policyholders and others in connection with insurance companies he controlled.
Lindberg allegedly deceived the North Carolina Department of Insurance and other regulators, evaded regulatory requirements meant to protect policyholders, concealed the true financial condition of his insurance companies, and improperly used insurance company funds for his personal benefit.
In particular, the indictment alleges that Lindberg personally benefited from the fraud in part by using insurance company funds to finance his lavish lifestyle, including the purchase and refinancing of personal real estate and “forgiving” more than $125 million in loans from his affiliated companies to himself.
The charged conduct allegedly caused substantial financial hardship to the victims. Lindberg allegedly caused the insurance companies to engage in investments of nearly $2 billion as part of his scheme, most of which remained outstanding as of September 2022.
In December 2022, one of Lindberg’s top executives, Christopher Herwig, pleaded guilty in a related case to conspiring with Lindberg and others to commit wire fraud, investment advisor fraud, and money laundering, as well as to the making of false statements in the business of insurance.
Separately, Lindberg remains under indictment and is awaiting retrial in the earlier case in which he faces several charges stemming from alleged attempts to bribe the Commissioner of the North Carolina Department of Insurance.