Meet the man who could own aviva france
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The Frenchman could end up destroying, or owning, the company which runs the pension funds for hundreds of thousands of people. He looks like a graduate business student or a trainee lawyer. In any event, what young woman would put up with a life like that? George, a Frenchman who lives in Switzerland, does not immediately strike you as a financial terrorist or a man who might be a billionaire by the end of the decade.
And yet he is fighting — and winning, according to the French courts — a merciless legal war against Aviva, the British-based insurance giant. Although Aviva refuses to accept his claim, or even to talk to him, young George could end up destroying, or owning, the company which runs the pension funds of hundreds of thousands of people in Britain, France and other countries.
At least 30 others — and maybe many more — are said to have a similar claim on Aviva France which might ultimately have to be settled by its British parent company. By failing to show these potential losses on its books, it is also neglecting its duty to its shareholders and policyholders. George, 25, is not a rogue trader.
He is not a financial genius. Imagine being allowed to fill in a winning ticket for the Euromillions lottery after the draw has been made. This contract, an investment vehicle rather than a classic life insurance policy, allows him to switch his funds to profit from weekly upward movements in markets. After the event, I was able to instruct Aviva to move my money into Asia at the prices which applied before the markets rose.
George and his family have won 30 legal judgments against Aviva France in the past 15 years. The contracts which are no longer being written may be stupid, the court decided, but they are legally binding under French law.
Asked to comment by The Independent, an Aviva spokeswoman in London said the company had nothing to say on the record at this stage.
It is understood, however, that insurance giant may now be prepared to acknowledge that it has no more legal recourse in France and must therefore obey the French court rulings. And that is just George. His mother, brother and sister hold similar contracts. His father and grandmother made settlements with Aviva some years ago which, he says, he is forbidden for legal reasons to discuss.
Other French insurance companies wrote similarly bizarre contracts. Why such bizarre deals should have been offered is unclear. They were always a risk. They became calamitous once the digitalised world made it simpler for clients to follow market movements.
Other companies have paid large sums to buy out the time-bomb contracts. Aviva France has mostly refused to do so. George has therefore made no money — so far — from his magic contract. In fact, he says, it costs him a great deal of money to pursue his claim. Apart from that, there are legal and other costs. He is a partner in a hotel project and another real estate investment in Switzerland. Swiss banks have decided, after examining his Aviva claim, that George, at 25, is an excellent credit risk.
The original document allows George to top up his fund whenever he wants. Although he declines to admit it in so many words, this ratcheting up of the claim is part of a war of nerves — a multi-billion euro game of chicken — which George is waging against Aviva. Neither company was amused. This, in essence, has been the basis of their case in the French courts — a case which has been rejected over and over again. Does Aviva not have a point, we asked George. He may be legally in the right.
It is they who have refused to face up to their legal and financial responsibilities. That is the problem that Aviva has with me. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists? Start your Independent Premium subscription today. Independent Premium Comments can be posted by members of our membership scheme, Independent Premium.
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"Meet the man who could own Aviva France"
He is best known for his legal battle with life insurance company Aviva. George is the youngest child in the family, born March , he grew in Metz, France with his brother and sister. From a very young age George showed great interest in economics and finance. Seeking to concentrate on his professional career he abandoned studying in , having completed only two years. As early as , George took part in the litigation case instigated by his parents in his and his sibling's name against the French branch of the Insurance giant Aviva.
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It lets him turn back the clock, to invest with perfect hindsight week after week, steadily accumulating a fortune. The ticket is a life insurance contract and Mr George, now 25, has fought for years in the French courts to preserve its magic. He could be a billionaire by the end of this decade and, by the end of the next, his contract would be worth more than the insurance company which stands behind it, Aviva France. There is no mystery to the financial magic, however. Instead it is a story of grand stupidity, of how a French insurer wrote the worst contract in the world and sold it to thousands of clients. Life insurance is a popular savings product in France, and typically the customer allocates their money among different investment funds offered by the insurer. But this contract was not typical: prices for the funds were published each Friday, and clients were allowed to switch funds at those prices anytime before the next price was published, even if markets moved in the meantime. Is the stock market up this week?
Meet the man who could own Aviva France
The contract allows him to switch his sum insured between Aviva funds at every week and to make the decision in retrospect. This man has been making paper gains of circa Aviva is challenging the contract in court. But if they lose and he lives for a few more years, Aviva France may not according to the FT article have enough money to pay out on his life insurance This leaves me with two questions: 1. Would Aviva plc have to cover the losses should this contract exceed the amounts that Aviva France can afford?