@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Another subpoena shows federal inquiry into NC political donor continues

Posted February 5, 2019 5:00 a.m. EST
Updated February 5, 2019 2:57 p.m. EST

Greg Lindberg

— The state Department of Insurance received another subpoena last month in the federal inquiry surrounding Durham businessman Greg Lindberg, who is also the largest single donor in state politics.

The subpoena seeks only more timely records as a follow-up to a subpoena a federal grand jury sent the department in September, department spokeswoman Marla Sink said.

The department released a copy of that subpoena in October in response to WRAL News' requests. It declined to provide a copy of the latest subpoena, with Sink saying the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina asked the department not to release it. She cited an exemption in state open records laws for documents tied to criminal inquiries.

Update: On Tuesday, after this story published and after WRAL News pointed out that the exemption in state open records laws for documents tied to criminal investigations deals with state agencies, not federal ones, the department released the second subpoena. It runs along the same lines as the first subpoena, asking for newer records related to Lindberg and the same list of eight companies named in the first subpoena.

The details of this investigation aren't publicly known, but the initial subpoena keyed on Lindberg's business dealings in sectors regulated by the insurance department. Subpoena documents at the time indicated that a federal investigator with a background in white-collar crime and an FBI forensic auditor were involved and investigating "drug offenses, crimes against financial institutions, or money laundering crimes."

There's a potential political angle as well: Lindberg has given more than $5 million to campaigns around the state in the last few years and came out of political obscurity to do so. Both the state Democratic and Republican parties confirmed they got subpoenas last year, and WRAL News has confirmed that at least two people from the world of North Carolina politics have testified before the grand jury.

State Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey turned a $240,000 campaign donation over to the U.S. Marshals Service last fall as part of the case. That donation had come from the North Carolina Republican Party, to which Lindberg had previously given nearly $1.5 million.

Lindberg had previously tried to donate directly to Causey's campaign, but the commissioner returned the money, state campaign finance records show.

Causey has said several times that he's cooperating with the investigation and that it "has nothing to do with me or the department," but with Lindberg companies regulated by the department. The September subpoena sought documents going back to January 2014 relating to Lindberg and eight companies, including Eli Global and Global Bankers Insurance Group, both main holdings for the wealthy Durham investor.

An attempt to reach Lindberg through spokespeople was not successful Monday. He has declined a number of interview requests over the last year.

He appears to be selling his home in Durham, which is listed for $4.5 million and features outdoor and indoor tennis courts, garage space for 10 vehicles, his and her locker rooms, a pool and an underground tunnel connecting two wings of the home.

Executives at Eli Global did not return messages seeking comment Monday. The media contact email listed on the company's website bounced back as undeliverable.

A company spokesman reached out Tuesday morning after this story published to say Eli Global continues to cooperate with the investigation.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray's office and the FBI have both declined to comment on the case in the past.