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Former CEO of Berkshire Subsidiary Sentenced to Two Years In Prison

Warren Buffett, right, chairman of Berkshire Hathawy Inc., speaks to the media while Ron Ferguson, chairman and chief executive officer of General Re, listens in New York on Friday, June 19, 1998. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is buying General Re for $22 billion worth of stock, adding one of the world's leading insurers of insurance companies to its portfolio. Berkshire announced Friday after the stock market closed that it would let General Re operate independently of its other insurance operations,
Adam Nadel
Warren Buffett, right, chairman of Berkshire Hathawy Inc., speaks to the media while Ron Ferguson, chairman and chief executive officer of General Re, listens in New York on Friday, June 19, 1998. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is buying General Re for $22 billion worth of stock, adding one of the world's leading insurers of insurance companies to its portfolio. Berkshire announced Friday after the stock market closed that it would let General Re operate independently of its other insurance operations,

The former chief executive of General Re was sentenced today to two years in prison and fined $200,000 by a federal judge in Hartford, Connecticut.

66-year-old Ronald Ferguson was convicted in February of participating in a secret scheme with other Gen Re executives and an AIG official to make AIG's financial picture look better than it really was back in 2000 and 2001.

General Re is a subsidiary of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. AIG was Gen Re's client at the time.

The two-year sentence is well short of the life term called for by federal sentencing guidelines. The defense had asked for leniency based on Ferguson's age and his plans to become an ordained minister.

The AP quotes the sentening judge as saying, "This case is a tragedy, especially for Ronald Ferguson. We will never know why a good man did such a bad thing."

The defense argued in the trial that the government's case was "full of confusion, uncertainty, complexity and doubt" and that Gen Re executives didn't think there was anything wrong about the transactions at the center of the case and aren't responsible for how AIG accounted for them.

One of Ferguson's co-defendants, former Gen Fe finance chief Elizabeth Monrad, told Bloomberg last week that she knows she is "innocent" and that she should deeply regrets the decision not to testify on her own behalf at the trial. Monrad's sentencing date has not yet been set.

Before the trial began, one of the defense lawyers indicated hemight call Buffett to testify, but that didn't happen. Buffett was not accused of doing anything wrong in the case.

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