A shadowy political committee supporting the re-election of Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness is funded by the director of a Cayman Islands-based reinsurance company. Even though the Latino Vote of South Florida political committee was formed in July 2015, it did not receive any contributions until last week. Four of the five contributions are tied to Krishna Persaud, the director of Oxbridge RE Holdings in the Cayman Islands.
According to their website, Oxbridge RE Holdings is a “Cayman Islands reinsurance holding company that provides reinsurance business solutions primarily to property and casualty insurers in the Gulf Coast region of the United States. Through our wholly owned Cayman Islands reinsurance subsidiary, Oxbridge Reinsurance Limited, we write fully collateralized policies to cover property losses from specified catastrophes.” Basically, Oxbridge insures waterfront properties from risks posed by hurricanes. Oxbridge is closely tied to Homeowners Choice, Inc. (HCI) a private Tampa-based insurance company which is supposed to help Citizens Insurance. Published reports claim nearly all of Oxbridge’s revenue comes from dealings with HCI. Persaud is the former director of HCI and Oxbridge chairman Paresh Patel is the founder of HCI.
In 2013, Tampa television investigators looked into the financial health of HCI. WFTS-ABC reported “Although Homeowners Choice’s parent company saw its New York Stock Exchange-listed common shares more than double in price during the past year, its insurance unit gets a “D” from Weiss Ratings, which evaluates the strength of financial services companies.” Investment watchdogs worried about HCI’s financial practices.
“Seven years on, they’re still not, in our opinion, able to deal with a severe catastrophe,” said analyst Gavin Magor. He was troubled that Homeowners Choice pays regular dividends to common shareholders so soon in its history. “It’s preferable for them not to do that,” he said. “And I would say that for any of these young startup companies.”
The Motley Fool website was stunned HCI used its finances to purchase waterfront real estate property instead of bonds. “Most insurers invest premiums held in reserve against future payments in conservative bonds and other fixed-income securities. This allows the insurer to earn investment profits while still maintaining its ability to pay claims. And even stranger, the company has purchased real estate — it spent $13.7 million to buy two marinas and an adjacent property that are susceptible to Gulf of Mexico storms.” The website called the practice a “red flag.”
The four contributions to the Latino Vote group were made by real estate companies owned by Krishna and Sumentra Persaud. These same companies and others owned by Persaud have made direct contributions to Holness’ campaign. In Broward county, Persaud has regularly purchased foreclosed developments at bargain prices.
Still, Broward County Commissioners have little say over Tampa and Cayman Island insurance companies. So why the big push for Holness?
ANOTHER “FAKE” ENDORSEMENT CARD?
While the group has not listed any expenses, Latino Group endorsement cards have been spotted at early voting locations in Broward. A fancy card bearing the likenesses of Holness and Congressman Alcee Hastings were spotted earlier this week. It was labeled as the “diversity ballot.”
The card urged voters to “increase diversity” by voting for African-American judicial candidates, but the real stars of the card were Hastings and Holness.
A second card replicates the official Broward Supervisior of Elections ballot with one exception: Dale Holness’ name is bigger than his opponent Chris Smith. Also of note, the card endorsed Willie Jones over Broward Sheriff Scott Israel.
Earlier this month, Dan Lewis, a local beekeeper, printed the “fake” blue card supporting Jim Fondo, another Israel opponent. The Lewis card has been a flop at early voting as other candidates urged voters to ignore it. As of Saturday, some campaign workers were handing out photocopies of the blue card.
Will the Latino Vote card work? We will find out Tuesday night.