Top executives of Aon, the world’s second-largest insurance broker, directed transactions that helped mislead customers and possibly increased costs for them, the New York attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, said yesterday.

Aon Corp. agreed to pay $190 million to settle charges by three states that it accepted hundreds of millions of dollars of improper payments in exchange for steering clients toward favored insurance companies, the Illinois attorney general said on Friday.

The world’s second-largest insurance broker, based in Chicago, settled with Illinois, New York and Connecticut, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said.

British MP George Galloway and his opponent the Daily Telegraph will leave no stone unturned to sort out what could be a spectacular libel case.

One of the authors claiming Dan Brown’s bestseller The Da Vinci Code copied his ideas has admitted he exaggerated his case in an interview with a journalist.