Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said the government inquiries into accounting at its insurance units are part of an investigation that began in January, and not a new probe.

The company officially disclosed inquiries from the Securities and Exchange Commission and New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office in a regulatory filing last week. Berkshire, run by billionaire Warren Buffett, is a holding company for a variety of businesses, including property and casualty insurance lines. In January, the SEC and Spitzer subpoenaed Berkshire's General Re and National Indemnity Co. units as part of an industry-wide investigation of reinsurance products.

Federal investigators have said that certain reinsurance products, which are purchased by primary insurance companies to protect themselves against the risk of future liabilities, could have helped insurers boost their financials.

Investigators have been examining General Re's role in a 2000 contract that helped insurer American International Group Inc. improperly increase reserves by $500 million and in June, two former General Re executives pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.

Berkshire also said that the authorities were questioning whether General Re, or its subsidiaries, conspired with others to misstate financial statements. According to the company, all of its affiliated insurance units were included in the original SEC subpoena. Others examining activities involving Berkshire units include regulators in Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany and Ireland.

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