There is a suspicion that some people had advance knowledge of the approximate time of the plane crashes in order to move out amounts exceeding $100 million. They thought that the records of their transactions could not be traced after the main frames were destroyed.
In 1998, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey agreed to privatize the World Trade Center, the complex of office towers in Lower Manhattan that they had owned and operated since their construction in 1973. In April 2001 an agreement was reached with a consortium of investors led by Silverstein Properties and on July 24th, 2001 Larry Silverstein, who already owned World Trade Center Building 7, signed a 99 year lease for the Twin Towers and Buildings 4 and 5.
The lease was for $3.2 billion, and was financed by a bridge loan from GMAC, the commercial mortgage arm of General Motors, as well as $111 million from Lloyd Goldman and Joseph Cayre, individual real estate investors. Silverstein Properties only put down $14 million of its own money.
The deal was unusual in a variety of ways. Although the Port Authority carried only $1.5 billion of insurance coverage on the WTC complex, which earlier that year had been valued at $1.2 billion, Silverstein had insisted on doubling that amount, insuring the buildings for $3.55 billion. Silverstein's insurance broker struggled to put that much coverage in place and ultimately had to split it among 25 dealers. The negotiations were so involved that only temporary contracts were in place for the insurance at the time the lease was signed and by September the contracts were still being finalized.
Silverstein's group was also explicitly given the right to rebuild the structures if they were destroyed, and even to expand the amount of retail space on the site if rebuilding did take place.
Within hours of the destruction of the Twin Towers on September 11th, Silverstein was on the phone to his lawyers, trying to determine if his insurance policies could "construe the attacks as two separate, insurable incidents rather than one." Silverstein spent years in the courts attempting to win $7.1 billion from his $3.55 billion insurance policy and in 2007 walked away with $4.55 billion, the largest single insurance settlement ever. As soon as the deal was announced Silverstein sued United and American Airlines for a further $3.5 billion for their "negligence" in the 9/11 attacks, a claim that was struck down by the courts but is still on appeal.
Perhaps even more outrageously, in a secret deal in 2003, the Port Authority agreed to pay back 80% of their initial equity in the lease, but allowed the Silverstein group to maintain control of the site. The deal gave Silverstein, Goldman and Cayre $98 million of the $125 million they put down on the lease, and a further $130 million in insurance proceeds that were earmarked for the site's rebuilding.
In the end, Silverstein profited from the 9/11 attacks to the tune of $4.55 billion and counting.
But that's the 9/11 insurance heist you saw. There was a much deeper, more complex, and well-hidden heist that was taking place behind closed doors on September 11, 2001, deep in the heart of the World Trade Center itself.
Marsh & McLennan is a diversified risk, insurance and professional services firm with over $13 billion in annual revenue and 57,000 employees. In September of 2001, 2000 of those employees worked in Marsh's offices in the World Trade Center. Marsh occupied floors 93 to 100 of the North Tower, the exact area of the impact and explosion.
In the year prior to 9/11, Marsh had contracted with SilverStream software to create an electronic connection between Marsh and its clients for the purpose of creating "paperless transactions." SilverStream had already built internet-based transactional and trading platforms for Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Banker’s Trust, Alex Brown, Morgan Stanley and other financial services firms that were later involved in 9/11, but this new project was unlike anything that had been attempted before.
Richard Andrew Grove, the salesperson who handled the Marsh & McLennan project for SilverStream, explains.
“In 2000 SilverStream was contracted by Marsh to provide a technological solution beyond what we had done for any of the above-named companies; insofar as it would be used to electronically connect Marsh to its major business partners via internet portals, for the purpose of creating “paperless transactions” and expediting revenue and renewal cycles, and built from the ground up at the client’s site.
“SilverStream provided a specific type of connectivity that was used to link AIG and Marsh & McLennan--the first two commercial companies on the planet to employ this type of transaction--and in fact Marsh was presented with something called the ACORD Award in the summer of 2001 for being the first commercial corporation to do so… and what you should take away from that is this: it means that no other companies were doing this type of transaction,so the question in your mind should be- what then were Marsh and AIG doing, and why did they need to leverage technologies that no other commercial entity on the face of the earth needed to conduct business?
“Once securing the contract, SilverStream then stationed approximately 30-40 developers at Marsh, and this team was led by 2-3 managers, with whom I liaised to ensure delivery of the “solution” that was promised.The development team regularly worked late into the night if not all night, and sometimes worked 7 days a week in order to adhere to Marsh’s indicated pre-September 11th deadline.”
But it was not long before severe irregularities in the billing of the account for this project led Richard Grove into the heart of a deeper mystery about the software, and about the work he was engaged in.
“I first noticed fiscal anomalies with respect to the Marsh.com project, when I was in a meeting on the 98th floor in October of 2000 with a gentleman named Gary Lasko. Gary was Marsh’s North American Chief Information Officer, and that particular afternoon a colleague and I helped him identify about $10,000,000 in suspicious purchase orders-after I recognized that certain vendors were deceiving Marsh, and specifically appeared to be selling Marsh large quantities of hardware that were not necessary-as this was later confirmed by Gary.
“I brought my concerns up to executives inside of SilverStream, and I was urged to keep quiet and mind my own business. I went to an executive at Marsh, and he advised me to do likewise… but THEN I mentioned it to a few executives at Marsh who I could trust--like Gary Lasko…and Kathryn Lee, Ken Rice, Richard Breuhardt, John Ueltzhoeffer--people who became likewise concerned that something untoward was going on.
“The concerned colleagues I just mentioned, were murdered on September 11th, and the executives who expressed dismay at my concerns, are alive and free today because of it.
“I feel that it’s no coincidence, as the Marsh Executive who urged me to drop my line of inquiry made sure that his personnel, who I just mentioned, were in the office bright and early for a global conference call before the staff meeting upon which I was to intrude… a conference call which I was informed this executive in question conducted but attended from the safety of his Upper West Side apartment.”
The global conference call with Marsh's IT staff on the morning of 9/11, a meeting that included the staff who were investigating the suspicious billing on the SilverStream deal, was confirmed in a 2006 interview with Marsh's then-Chief Information Officer, Ellen Clarke.
Richard Grove had been asked to attend the meeting but was stuck in traffic on the way to the Towers when the attack began. His friends at Marsh were not so lucky. 294 Marsh employees, including all of the participants in the conference call in the North Tower, died that morning. Meanwhile the Marsh executive who had scheduled the meeting, the same one who had asked Grove to drop the issue of the billing anomalies, was safe in his apartment, attending the meeting via telephone.
So what was the Marsh.com project really about? Why was it so important for it to be finished before September 11th, and what kind of transactions did it enable? More importantly, what information was lost when the data center on the 95th floor of the North Tower suffered a direct hit on 9/11 and the buildings were demolished?
A partial answer comes from reports that emerged in late 2001 that a German firm, Convar, had been hired to reconstruct financial data from the hard disks recovered at Ground Zero. The firm talks about this work in its promotional videos.
More details on the work come from an IDG News Service story posted to CNN.com in December 2001. Under the headline "Computer disk drives from WTC could yield clues," the article notes: "An unexplained surge in transactions was recorded prior to the attacks, leading to speculation that someone might have profited from previous knowledge of the terrorist plot by moving sums of money. But because the facilities of many financial companies processing the transactions were housed in New York's World Trade Center, destroyed in the blasts, it has until now been impossible to verify that suspicion."
A Reuters article from the same time, later posted to Convar's website, offers revealing glimpses into the investigation's early results. It quotes Peter Herschel, Convar's director at the time.
"The suspicion is that inside information about the attack was used to send financial transaction commands and authorizations in the belief that amid all the chaos the criminals would have, at the very least, a good head start. Of course it is also possible that there were perfectly legitimate reasons for the unusual rise in business volume. It could turn out that Americans went on an absolute shopping binge on that Tuesday morning. But at this point there are many transactions that cannot be accounted for. Not only the volume but the size of the transactions was far higher than usual for a day like that. There is a suspicion that these were possibly planned to take advantage of the chaos."
It also quotes Richard Wagner, one of the companies data retrieval experts. "There is a suspicion that some people had advance knowledge of the approximate time of the plane crashes in order to move out amounts exceeding $100 million. They thought that the records of their transactions could not be traced after the main frames were destroyed."
Was the revolutionary electronic trading link between AIG and Marsh being used to funnel money through the World Trade Center at the time of the attack? Were the attack perpetrators hoping that the destruction of Marsh's data center, on the 95th floor at the dead center of the North Tower explosion, would conceal their economic crime?
One piece of corroborating evidence for this idea comes from author and researcher Michael Ruppert, who reported in 2004 that immediately before the attacks began, computer systems in Deutsche Bank, one of SilverStream's other e-link clients, had been taken over from an external location that no one in the office could identify.
Sadly, no answer to the questions raised by these accounts is forthcoming from Convar. After the initial reporting on the investigation, which noted that the company was working with the FBI to recover and analyze the data, Convar now refuses to talk about the information they discovered.
It is very possible that, until now, the real 9/11 terrorists have managed to get away with the ultimate heist. 9/11 Trillions: Follow The Money Podcast