Berkshire Hathaway Inc. duped a New York bicycle courier company into paying for a workers’ compensation plan that diverted premiums into the insurer’s own subsidiaries in violation of state laws, according to a lawsuit filed Friday.

Breakaway Courier Corp. accused Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire of “siphoning” its premiums by shuttling the payments through a network of unlicensed shell companies. The plan is essentially a “reverse Ponzi scheme” that requires purchasers of workers’ compensation insurance to cover each other’s losses, Breakaway said.

“Victims are led to believe that their ‘capital’ is being paid into ‘protected cells’ which will eventually be returned to them,” according to the complaint filed in state court in Manhattan.

Berkshire Chief Financial Officer Marc Hamburg didn’t immediately respond to a voice-mail message seeking comment on the suit.

The case is Breakaway Courier Corp. v. Berkshire Hathaway Inc., 654806/2016, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).

Topics Lawsuits New York Workers' Compensation Talent