New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office released the following press release this morning.
Speaker Sheldon Silver announced the passage of legislation that expands on the Iran Divestment Act by prohibiting domestic insurers from including as admitted assets investments in any company engaged in investment activities in Iran (A.6855/Silver).
Admitted assets, which are defined in the state Insurance Law, are investments included on an insurance company’s financial statements. Admitted assets are used to determine an insurance company’s solvency and, therefore, ability to pay claims. This legislation would establish that investments made by domestic insurance companies in entities that invest in the Iranian energy sector would be considered non-admitted assets. Insurers would be required to determine what investments, transfers or other transactions have been made with companies included on a list of entities that invest in the Iranian energy sector maintained by the state Office of General Services (OGS). As of March 1, 2014 and annually thereafter, insurers would be required to provide the state Department of Financial Services with the list of such investments and transactions.
“Investing in a nation that enforces tyrannical and brutal oppression, that supports terrorism worldwide, that continues its development of nuclear weapons and threatens usage of them against Israel and other Western countries is unacceptable,” Silver said. “My goal in expanding on the Iran Divestment Act of 2012 is to ensure our state’s policyholders are protected and domestic insurers are able to make financially sound investments, which is good policy for our state and even better for New Yorkers. I commend my colleagues in the Assembly for their support and passage of this important legislation.”
The Iran Divestment Act, sponsored by Speaker Silver and signed into law last year, conforms New York State’s procurement practices to authorization granted by the federal government to states allowing them to use their procurement powers to contribute to efforts to halt the development of nuclear weapons in Iran. It requires OGS to create a public list of individuals or companies that invest an excess of $20 million in goods, services or credit in the Iranian energy sector. Entities on the list are prohibited from entering into or renewing contracts with New York State and local governments. The provisions of the act were later expanded to apply to SUNY, CUNY and state and local public authorities.
“Among many other volatile discrepancies, the government of Iran has a blatant disregard for the most basic of human rights and poses a significant threat to world peace,” Assemblyman Charles Lavine said. “In order to protect our policyholders and ensure our domestic insurers have solvent investments here and abroad, this legislation to expand upon the Iran Divestment Act is absolutely necessary.”
The Iran Divestment Act was conceived with the aid of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and is similar to legislation in California. Laws with the same purpose are in effect in Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, and Indiana and have been introduced in several other states including neighboring Connecticut.
“Once again, Speaker Silver and the New York State Assembly have demonstrated that the State of New York will do everything in its power to isolate the Iranian regime and prevent it from achieving nuclear weapon’s capability. By throwing the weight of New York State behind growing national and international efforts to stop Iran, we stand here confident in our knowledge that our representatives are on the right side of history,” Michael S. Miller, executive vice president and CEO, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.
“AJC NY applauds the NY State Assembly’s commitment to further isolating the Iranian regime and its ability to benefit economically from US corporations and the insurance industry. For over a decade, AJC has been at the forefront of advocating against Iran’s dangerous quest for nuclear weapons,” said Michael Schmidt, AJC NY Director.
In 2009, at the direction of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, more than $86 million in New State Common Retirement Fund investments were divested from nine companies that were linked to business activities in Iran and Sudan.
Nationally, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama in July 2010, blocking any companies that are linked to Iran’s regime from winning contracts with the federal government.