Willis Group


, a large insurance broker, agreed Friday to pay $50 million in restitution to its customers to settle allegations it accepted "kickbacks'' for steering work to a group of big underwriters.

The settlement with New York insurance officials and prosecutors comes five months after Willis announced it would stop accepting the controversial payments, called contingent commission in the insurance industry.

"Willis has rightly agreed to undertake a broad range of substantive business reforms which will benefit customers by providing more disclosure to them about the services they are receiving,'' says New York Acting Insurance Superintendent Howard Mills.

With all eyes focused of late on

American International Group

(AIG) - Get Report

and its fishy accounting, it's hard to remember that insurance industry investigation began with an assault last fall on payments by commercial insurers to big brokers to push their policies.

The investigation also exposed a price-fixing scheme orchestrated by Marsh, the nation's biggest insurance broker and a division of

Marsh & McLennan

(MMC) - Get Report


In an earlier settlement, Marsh agreed to pay $850 million in restitution. The investigation at Marsh has led to a number of arrests and the ouster of the company's former CEO Jeffery Greenberg. Greenberg is the son of Maurice "Hank'' Greenberg, the former longtime chieftain of AIG, who was forced to step down because of the current accounting scandal at the nation's biggest insurer.

Last month



, the nation's second biggest insurance broker, agreed to pay $190 million in a settlement involving similar kickback allegations.