30 SEPTEMBER 1905, Page 2

The inquiry which is proceeding in the United States into

the conduct of certain well-known American insurance com- panies is revealing very remarkable methods of doing business. It will be remembered that the quarrel between the president and vice-president of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, and the charges flung about, so diminished the profits of the Society that a Committee of Investigation was appointed, whose Report was followed by a Government inquiry. The state of affairs then revealed was so unsatisfactory that a Joint Legislative Committee was appointed to investigate the whole subject. So far it is alleged that the management Of the Society formed themselves into a private syndicate to use the Society's capital in speculative transactions, any losses incurred being borne by the Society, but only a small portion of the profits going to the Society's account. The syndicate, it is said, was in the habit of underwriting bonds, and then. selling them to the Society at a profit; of putting Equitable funds into other companies so as to gain the control of them and receive large fees ; and of lending money to companies at a high rate, of which the Equitable received only a low pro- portion. It is stated that similar methods are in vogue in the management of certain other well-known American insurance companies. We have no desire to comment on these revela- tions till the final Report is published; but, if substantiated, they must seriously shake the confidence of the public in American insurance. In an insurance society the directors stand in a special fiduciary relation to members, and private gambling with the society's capital involves the gravest breach of trust.