Cablegate: New Zealand Response On Dprk Flag of Convenience
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T WELLINGTON 000900
STATE FOR NP, ISN, EUR, EAP/ANP
TREASURY FOR OFAC
NSC FOR STEPHENS
E.O. 12958: DECL: UPON KOREAN REUNIFICATION
TAGS: KNNP MNUC PARM PREL EWWT PHSA KN NZ
SUBJECT: NEW ZEALAND RESPONSE ON DPRK FLAG OF CONVENIENCE
REF: STATE 204250
(U) Classified by Political-Economic Counselor Katherine B.
Hadda. Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (S/REL NZ) Summary: The New Zealand government does not
consider Maritime Mutual Insurance Association NZ (MMIA) to
be an insurance company. Although MMIA is incorporated in
New Zealand, the government says that it has advised the
Japanese government that the company does not meet New
Zealand's legal requirements for issuing insurance. The New
Zealand government recognizes that it needs to change its
law, which as now written does not allow it to halt MMIA's
activities or withdraw its incorporation. The government says
it will be unable to do so until 2007. End summary.
2. (U) Econoff delivered reftel points November 10 to Gavin
Quigan of the Ministry of Economic Development's Insurance
and Superannuation Unit and Bruce McCallum of the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and Trade's North America Division.
3. (S/REL NZ) Quigan stated that MMIA is not a bona fide
insurance company under New Zealand law. The Insurance
Companies (Deposit) Act 1953 requires insurers to post a
deposit with the Public Trustee before they can undertake
insurance business in New Zealand. The amount of the deposit
depends on the type of insurance being offered, but generally
is NZ $500,000. MMIA has made no such deposit.
4. (S/REL NZ) Quigan said that the Japanese government,
through its embassy in Wellington, has been advised that the
New Zealand government does not recognize MMIA as a
legitimate insurance provider. Quigan suggested that
information might be sufficient for the Japanese to deny
entry to North Korean-flagged ships relying on insurance
provided by MMIA. He compared MMIA to three New
Zealand-incorporated companies that are being prosecuted in
the United States for selling insurance fraudulently. The
New Zealand government has provided prosecutors with
documents showing that the companies had not fulfilled New
Zealand's legal requirements for transacting insurance.
5. (S/REL NZ) Quigan said the New Zealand government had
virtually no ability to prevent MMIA from selling insurance
overseas, even if fraudulently. It also could not shut down
the company. Under the Companies Act 1993, companies face
almost no restrictions to incorporate in New Zealand, beyond
the payment of a NZ $100 fee. The registrar of companies can
remove a company from the registry only if it fails to file
an annual return. That return is easy to fill out, requiring
a listing of the company's addresses and directors, and can
be submitted via e-mail. MMIA filed its last annual return
on August 2, 2005. (The return can be accessed via the New
Zealand Companies Office website,
www.companies.govt.nz/pls/web/dbssiten.main; search the
register for company number 1521418.)
6. (S/REL NZ) Quigan said the government does not want the
name of New Zealand misused in this way and will have MMIA in
mind when drafting revisions to the Insurance Companies Act
1953. However, with consultations on the revision not
expected to begin until 2006, it is unlikely that an
amendment would be enacted before 2007, Quigan said.
7. (S) Quigan said he had no information on the Korean
Foreign Insurance Company. Meanwhile, the New Zealand
Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) has investigated MMIA.
Post will report septel if NZSIS uncovered additional
information about the company. MMIA's website is at