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Citizens Closes Office of Corporate Integrity

In a questionable move for a state-run company that has been recently plagued by internal complaints and that is being investigated for corporate improprieties, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has shut down its Office of Corporate Integrity.

No New Auditors To Replace Dismantled Unit Yet

According to, Citizens dismantled its Office of Corporate Integrity by firing the four officers in charge of these investigations. T.W. Smart, a former senior official with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who ran the Office of Corporate Integrity; Selisa Daniel, a former economic crimes investigator with the attorney general’s office, and two other employees were those let go because they lacked the necessary expertise to handle the type of high-level fraud taking place at the company.

A spokesperson for Citizens, Christine Ashburn, has stated that: “in order to better understand and focus attention on the management of the risk of fraud and how this risk needs to be addressed within the organization, Citizens has determined a need to enlist well-skilled and qualified forensic accountants that have specific experience in the management of fraud in organizations such as Citizens”. Yet, no forensic accountants (or any other staff) have been hired since the office was dismantled.

However, the company’s new president, Barry Gilway, stopped taking reports from Mr. Smart as soon as he took office last June and started taking those reports from a former colleague at Zurich North America (an insurance company where they both worked together), whom he had hired as Chief Internal Auditor soon after assuming his position.

Mounting Allegations of Corruption

It is important to note that the number of corporate complaints within Citizens jumped 52% between 2009 and 2011, with an increasing amount of allegations of corruption, sexual harassment and improper spending. For example, allegations about Citizens employees spending over $500,000.00 in beverages and millions of dollars on expensive furniture and illegal non-bid contracts were made in an anonymous letter sent to the company’s Board of Directors last March.

In addition to its internal problems, Citizens has been sharply criticized for intending to lend $350 million to private insurance companies that agree to take over policies currently underwritten by Citizens for a period of at least 10 years. The money for this loan would come from the company’s contingency coffers which have grown to a whopping $6.2 billion thanks to the combination of a benevolent few years without hurricane claims (since Wilma in 2005) and a continued increase of premiums and deductibles.

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