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Calif. Insurers Say $12 Billion Invested In Iran

DON THOMPSON

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) ¿ California's insurance commissioner said Tuesday he will push insurance companies doing business in California to divest up to $12 billion in indirect investments in Iran's defense, nuclear, energy and banking industries.

Commissioner Steve Poizner said he will urge the companies to voluntarily sell the investments they reported to his office. If they refuse to sell within 120 days, he plans to try to force the divestment so money paid by California policyholders is not flowing to a U.S.-listed state sponsor of terrorism.

He also intends to subpoena executives from other companies that didn't provide the Iranian investment information to his office.

Poizner, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor next year, is lining up support from other states' insurance regulators even as insurance companies object to a state-by-state approach they said could interfere with U.S. foreign policy.

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, secretary-treasurer of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, said he is consulting other states' commissioners to see if it is practical to develop a national effort similar to California's.

"We ought to do it through the states, but in a coordinated fashion," said Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario, who also is considering a divestment push.

Steve Suchil, the American Insurance Association's assistant vice president for state affairs, said the industry has never questioned Poizner's authority to request the investment information.

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