Posted on 14 Jan 2010
A public hearing into why insurers would not disclose their investments in Iran was canceled after all 1,327 companies licensed in the state outlined their financial dealings to state regulators.
California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner recently announced that the remaining 216 insurers who had yet to respond to his inquiry had submitted information, hence ending the need for a Jan. 12 session where the insurers would explain why they did not comply with his request.
In December 2009, Poizner, a Republican running for governor of California this year, required that each insurer licensed in the state disclose their investments in “state sponsors of terrorism,” starting with Iran’s nuclear, energy and defense sectors to find out if any premium dollars from California consumers were headed to those outlets.
In a statement, Poizner said receiving all of the data from insurers “is a huge first step in our efforts to identify and reduce” such holdings from insurers operating in his state.
“I’m pleased that insurance companies realized that attempting to obscure their investments in the Iranian nuclear, energy and defense sectors was plain wrong,” he said. “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.”
The California Department of Insurance has uncovered more than $6 billion in investments in companies doing business with the Iranian energy, nuclear and defense sectors, Poizner’s office said.
His next step is the release of a list of those companies, many of which are located outside of the United States, creating information from the data provided, outside experts and other consultants.
Following release of the list, insurers will be given 30 days to notify Poizner’s office in writing whether they will divest those holdings and 90 days to eliminate indirect holdings in Iran from their portfolios.
California regulators said those companies that do not voluntarily agree to divest will be put on a public list with the name and value of their Iran-related investments.
Poizner added that he will subpoena high ranking officials of those insurers to testify under oath as to why they believe it is in the interest of California policyholders for their premium dollars to support Iranian interests.