28-Year-Old Retired P.E. Honcho Good At Sweet-Talking Regulators, Less Good At Restructuring Insurance Assets

Technical phrase: "snookering regulators."


In all, Mr. Burns, now 28 years old, amassed a business including two U.S. insurance companies, two offshore reinsurers, a brokerage firm and a web of dealings with other insurers that left him in charge of investing hundreds of millions of dollars in additional assets. Regulators seized control of the two main insurance companies last April. One in Delaware now is being liquidated, while one in Louisiana has been sold. Insurance-company losses total nearly $250 million, based on write-downs taken, while insurers still hold tens of millions of dollars in other questionable assets, according to insurance regulatory filings and court documents. Louisiana Insurance Commissioner James Donelon, whose department opened a fraud investigation, said Mr. Burns “apparently is convincing and good at snookering regulators.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, there's this:

Mr. Burns, growing up in Westport, Conn., was a financial prodigy. When he was about 13, his mother told Robert N. Gordon, a friend and head of Twenty-First Securities Corp., that her son had determined that a famed options-pricing model “was wrong” and “he had a better idea,” Mr. Gordon recalls. The model, called Black-Scholes, had won its authors a Nobel Prize. Mr. Burns’s mother, a former Citigroup Inc. executive, declined to comment.

Young Financier’s Insurance Empire Collapses [WSJ]
Regulators Missed Chance to Block Bad Deals [WSJ]