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MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR INVESTMENTS IN IRAN’S ENERGY, NUCLEAR, DEFENSE, AND BANKING SECTORS BY INSURANCE COMPANIES EXPOSED

MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR INVESTMENTS IN IRAN’S ENERGY, NUCLEAR, DEFENSE, AND BANKING SECTORS BY INSURANCE COMPANIES EXPOSED

At a press conference at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, California’s Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner revealed the initial shocking results of the Commission’s terror financing probe that exposed as much as $12 billion of direct and indirect insurance company investments in Iran’s energy, nuclear, defense and banking sectors. The probe asked 1,327 insurance companies licensed in the state of California to report their investments. The 1,111 who complied admitted to $12 billion in indirect investments in companies like Shell Oil, Siemens and Petroleo Brasileiro. Mr. Poizner urged these companies to voluntarily divest from these Iranian entities but promised “to do whatever it takes” to force divestment with “every available legal means” available. Mr. Poizner also said that he plans to subpoena the 216 remaining companies who have yet to comply with the probe to force their compliance. Hearings are set for early January 2010.

“These are shocking revelations. Insurance companies, using money gained from American citizens, emerge as key players in propping up those sectors of the Iranian economy that underpin a regime that sponsors terrorist groups, threatened genocide against a member state of the United Nations and which continues to rush towards nuclearization.,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

“Short of military action, the only hope of stopping the Iranian regime’s in-your-face nuclearization is through concerted international efforts to hurt the regime economically. As the United States and other world powers push for tougher economic sanctions, we commend Commissioner Poizner’s trailblazing efforts and hope other states will follow California’s lead,” said Rabbi Cooper.

Iranian voices were also heard at the press conference community to speak at the press briefing. Roozbeh Farahanipour, a secular Muslim activist, imprisoned and tortured by the Iranian regime, said he opposed any military action against the regime of President Ahamadinejad declared that divestment actions such as those demanded by Commissioner Poizner, and tough international sanctions, are the only way to help peacefully bring democracy back to the people of Iran. Iranian American Nooshin Meshkaty, the outgoing Board of Education President for the Beverly Hills Unified School, made an emotional plea: “What the Iranian people want is freedom from fear. We need to support them and tell them that we are with them and that the United States will not be afraid.” She said that targeted efforts like the terror probe should be initiated at every level of government.

Underscoring the bipartisan nature of this initiative, Commissioner Poizner pointed out he launched the terror probe as a result of a request from the California legislature. Shortly following the Press conference, Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger endorsed Poizner’s actions.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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