Insurance chief to issue subpoenas

Chuck Quackenbush, California's insurance commissioner, announced his plan at a press conference Tuesday. He plans to start issuing subpoenas next week to force companies to attend at two public hearings — one on Dec. 1 in Los Angeles and the other on Dec. 2 in San Francisco.

The hearings will determine whether the companies are prepared to turn over their lists of Holocaust-era policyholders, in compliance with California's newly enacted Holocaust Registry law.

"The time for excuse making and obfuscation is over," Quackenbush said. "Those companies that believe they are not compelled to turn over their lists should understand now that they will not long be doing business in California, should they maintain such a defiant position."

Subpoenas are expected to be issued to 15 European insurance companies doing business or having subsidiaries in California.

At the top of the list are some of the world's largest insurers, among them Allianz AG of Germany, AXA of France, Assicurazioni Generali of Italy, and three Swiss companies: Baloise Insurance Group, Winterthur Swiss Insurance and Zurich Financial Services.

The press conference took place at the Simon Wiesenthal Center on the 61st anniversary of Kristallnacht, when synagogues and Jewish stores were torched and looted throughout Germany.