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Acrisure CFO steps down in Hollywood Ponzi scheme fallout

Acrisure logo money background with Matt Schweinzger.jpg

Matt Schweinzger has stepped down as Acrisure CFO after a fund he set up plowed $485mn into what federal prosecutors allege was a Ponzi scheme, this publication can reveal.

An internal memo seen by Inside P&C states that Schweinzger will step down to “navigate his personal situation”, as the fast-growing broker, which placed over $22bn of premiums into the insurance market in 2020, looks to draw a line under the affair. He will remain at Acrisure as an advisor, a spokesperson for the company has said.

On April 6, a college friend of Schweinzger’s, Zachary Horwitz, was arrested by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), accused of losing $227mn of investor cash in a Ponzi scheme built on faked distribution deals with Hollywood film studios including Netflix and HBO.

Schweinzger, who was also Acrisure’s chief acquisitions officer, is considered a victim and a witness in the case and is facing no criminal charges.

Horwitz’s largest investor was a Chicago-based fund called JJMT Capital, established by Schweinzger and two fellow Indiana University alumni - Jacob Wunderlin and Joseph deAlteris.

The trio invested their own personal money in loans to 1inMM, as Horwitz called his investment vehicle, as well as cash from “family, friends and associates”.

Inside P&C can reveal exclusively that those who lost money in the scheme included a group of Acrisure staff.

A spokesperson for Acrisure said “JJMT’s activities and investments were entirely unrelated to Acrisure’s business”.

“No investments were made by Acrisure and no Acrisure funds were involved in this situation,” the spokesperson continued.

“We are aware that a small group of Acrisure employees chose to invest their personal money in JJMT,” the spokesperson added.

“Mr Schweinzger’s involvement in this matter results from private investments that he made independent of, and unrelated to, his role at Acrisure.”

JJMT ultimately invested $485mn into loans to 1inMM which typically promised a yield of between 35% and 45% over the life of the note, according to a complaint by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), filed in the US District Court for the Central District of California.

The SEC alleges that Horwitz used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, buying a mansion in Beverlywood, Los Angeles for $5.7mn. He put $1.8mn on American Express credit cards, spent $100,000 in Las Vegas in two years and paid a celebrity interior designer $700,000.

Acrisure said in the internal memo that Schweinzger would be replaced by Sozon Vatikiotis, the Michigan broker’s COO, and Kent Snyder, vice president of finance and capital markets, who become co-CFOs on an interim basis.