California Insurance Companies Respond to Terror Financing Probe

January 7, 2010

All 1,327 insurance companies licensed in California have responded to California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner’s request to provide data on their investments with companies doing business with Iran’s nuclear, energy and defense sectors. Previously, the Commissioner’s office was waiting for 216 companies to comply with the data call, but now that they all have, the previously-scheduled Jan. 12 hearing for insurers to explain why they did not comply with the inquiry has been cancelled.

“Completion of the data call is a huge first step in our efforts to identify and reduce Iranian-related holdings from the portfolios of insurance companies,” Commissioner Poizner said. “I’m pleased that insurance companies realized that attempting to obscure their investments in the Iranian nuclear, energy and defense sectors was plain wrong. I hope they will continue to do the right thing and work with us as we do whatever it takes to apply maximum pressure on the government of Iran to change its behavior.”

California Department of Insurance (CDI) personnel have been able to uncover more than $6 billion in investments in companies doing business with the Iranian energy, nuclear and defense sectors, according to the Commissioner in a statement.

With all California insurance companies reporting, CDI will soon provide a list of companies that are doing business with the Iranian energy, nuclear, and defense industries. Many of these foreign companies are based in South America, China, Russia and Europe. They include such companies as Siemens, Statoil, Petroleo Brasileiro and Total SA. The list will be created using information from the data call and input from outside consultants and other experts.

At that point, insurance companies will be given 30 days to notify CDI in writing whether they will comply with the divestment request. Insurers will be given 90 days to eliminate indirect holdings in Iran from their portfolios.

For companies that do not voluntarily agree to divest, CDI will make public a list of these companies and provide the name and value of their Iran-related investments. Commissioner Poizner will also subpoena high-ranking executives of these insurance companies to testify under oath and ask them why they believe it is in the interest of California policyholders for their premium dollars to be invested in companies propping up Iran’s energy, nuclear, and defense sectors, he said.

Source: CDI

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