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My Florida C F O
Weekly eNewsletter from Florida's Chief Financial Officer

Dear Fellow Floridian:

Recent reports reflect that Florida has fallen behind in venture capital funding - a trend that deserves immediate attention. My goal is to encourage venture capital and investment in our state’s entrepreneurs, innovators, and small businesses by working to create an environment that is attractive for building and growing a business.

Venture capital investment, particularly in the areas of biotechnology, trade logistics, and software technology, are integral to strengthening Florida’s position as a global economic leader. Despite being the fourth largest state, Florida closed only ten venture capital deals this quarter, receiving a combined $48.3 million in the third quarter. Even with our prime location and geographic diversity, Florida is not seen as an opportunistic place to find burgeoning business endeavors that would attract and reward venture capitalists. We have an opportunity to renew our commitment to attracting venture capital and encouraging investment in innovative start-ups.

Florida must work to promote and facilitate startups that are seeking funding, create a stable tax and regulatory system that does not discourage venture capital investment, and reduce the burden of governmental red tape. In doing so, Florida will be strengthened in the high value-add industries of the future which will lead to long-term economic stability and diversification that will make Florida a global leader in the 21st century.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

Jacksonville Daily Record: Interview with Florida CFO Jeff Atwater

Sun-Sentinel: Five arrested in alleged staged accident ring

St. Petersburg Times: At STEM summit, a call for Florida to raise its competitive bar

Miami Herald: Port of Miami tunnel on the cutting edge

Wall Street Journal: Home Lending Revamp Planned

Pensacola News Journal: Final BP spill payout on way

Miami Herald: Florida’s economy continues its growth streak, Fed says

Bradenton Herald: Mega-yacht industry has ‘enormous’ economic impact

Palm Beach Post: Brazilian firm to open $25M Riviera Beach site to make organic caffeine, will hire 75

Orlando Sentinel: $200M downtown development would tie into SunRail station

St. Petersburg Times: Free trade agreements hold promise for Florida

Tampa Tribune: Internet cafes stir heated debate

Rina Serves as a Reminder - HurricaneHurricane Season: Are you prepared? Season is Not Over

Hurricane Rina has weakened, and is now a tropical storm. Her path has shifted away from us, but two to three inches of rainfall could impact South Florida.

If you haven’t done so, now is the time to make sure your plans are in place should another storm decide to come our way. The Atlantic Hurricane Season continues through the end of November. What should you do to stay prepared?

  • Check your disaster supplies and replace/restock as needed.
  • Make sure your home inventory checklist and important financial documents are gathered and in order.
  • Make sure items and materials outside your home are picked up so they are not scattered by wind.

If your home is damaged, report it immediately to your insurance company, take pictures (keep a disposable camera in your disaster supply kit), and make any necessary emergency repairs to prevent further damage - keep all receipts.

For more disaster tips, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com.

 

Five Suspects Arrested in Miami Staged Accident SchemeFraud Detective Badge

Florida CFO Jeff Atwater announced on Tuesday the arrests of five individuals involved in a staged accident scheme in Miami. Mario J. Chavez, 53, Robin Nelson Campanioni, Jr., 23, Jorge J. Mota, 27, Naima Basnueva Lastre, 24, all of Miami, and Eduardo Figueredo, 44, of Miami Springs were charged with insurance fraud, grand theft and staging an auto accident.

“Fake accidents like these are happening everyday in Florida’s biggest cities and are costing Floridians millions of dollars a year in increased auto insurance rates,” said CFO Atwater. “My office is cracking down on this costly crime. The perpetrators will be caught; they will go to jail, and we will work to get Floridians the relief they deserve on their auto insurance premiums.”

An investigation conducted by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud revealed that the five suspects met at a house in Miami to plot the staged auto accident and how the scheme would go down. After faking the accident, the participants sought treatment for their phony injuries at Doral Center Rehab and Justin Medical Services, both located at 3900 NW 79th Avenue, in Miami.

As a result of this staged accident, nearly $83,000 in fraudulent insurance claims were submitted by the clinics to Geico, Kingsway Amigo, Progressive and Unitrin Direct insurance companies. Additional arrests are expected. If convicted, each suspect faces up to 35 years in prison.

Insurance Consumer AdvocateFlorida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott, appointed by CFO Atwater, has convened a working group of interested parties to gather and develop ideas to address the fraud and other potential alternatives to Florida’s current no-fault system. The working group’s report will be completed and delivered to state policymakers in the coming weeks.

Anyone with information regarding suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Individuals who provide tips can remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward of up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $250,000 to approximately 40 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program.