Insurance firm asks court to sort claims on Zaveri estate

By WILL ASTOR - 5/26/2011 2:50:49 PM

An insurance company that wrote a policy on the life of alleged Ponzi schemer Ashvin Zaveri--now deceased--is asking courts to sort out who should get what share of the policy’s $3 million-plus-interest payout.

The William Penn Life Insurance Co. of New York filed an interpledar action May 23 in the U.S. District Court in Rochester asking that Zaveri heirs and other named beneficiaries be barred from collecting payoffs until courts sort out their conflicting claims to assets in Zaveri’s estate.
Interpledars are lawsuits in which parties holding assets belonging to others ask a court to compel claimants to such assets to litigate among themselves to determine who should get what share. 

Federal prosecutors criminally charged Zaveri, who ran a Monroe County investment firm, in 2009, alleging in a six-count indictment that high-return shares in supposed oil-and-gas leases Zaveri sold were a $35 million Ponzi scheme.
Prosecutors dropped the criminal case before it was tried, asking for it to be dismissed some four months after Zaveri committed suicide last year.

Since then, victims of the alleged Ponzi scheme, Zaveri’s heirs and the federal government have vied to claim some or all of an estimated $12 million estate, most of which consists of proceeds from several life insurance policies including the William Penn policy.

Competing claims to part or all of the Zaveri estate are filed in state Supreme court, Surrogate Court and federal court. 

The William Penn interpledar names 10 individuals, including Zaveri’s widow, who have stated claims to part of the $3 million policy’s payout. 

“William Penn is indifferent and disinterested as to which of the defendants is entitled to proceeds of the policy… (and is) unable to safely determine which of the defendants is entitled to that amount. As a result of these adverse claims, William Penn is or may exposed to multiple liability,” the insurance company’s court filing states.

In addition to being excused from any liability in any payout it might make, the insurance company asks to be repaid for its costs in filing the interpledar.

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