Calif. insurers urged to end Iranian investments

Calif. insurance watchdog asks carriers to end investments in companies doing business in Iran

Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Just eight of the 1,300 insurance companies doing business in California have holdings in Iran's energy, military and nuclear industries, state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said Wednesday, down from 50 in 2009 when the department began publicly naming them.

The state Department of Insurance has sought to encourage companies to divest from Iran, which is on the U.S. State Department's list of designated terrorist-sponsoring states and continues to engage in a nuclear program.

Jones reiterated that stance in a news conference Wednesday. He does not have the legal authority to require the companies to divest from Iranian companies, but said he believes the investments are a financial risk.

"Insurance companies investing in companies doing business with the military, nuclear or energy sectors of the Iranian economy are making a risky investment," Jones said in a news release.

The eight remaining companies are listed on the department's website, http://www.insurance.ca.gov .

The total value of the insurers' Iran investments has fallen to less than $200 million from about $6 billion in 2009, the department said.

Separately, the state passed a law in 2007 requiring the California Public Employees' Retirement System, the country's largest public pension fund, and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, the second largest, to divest from Iran.

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