MINNEAPOLIS (AP) â€” The state will review a Dutch finance giant's record of paying life insurance claims for Holocaust victims when deciding whether to let the company acquire a U.S. insurer.
ING Group, Europe's fifth-largest financial services firm, announced Monday it had agreed to acquire the Minneapolis-based ReliaStar Financial Corp. for $6.1 billion, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval. The acquisition would make ING the third-largest U.S. life insurer.
The state Commerce Department, required by state law to help Holocaust victims recover unpaid claims, will review allegations that ING is one of several European insurers that haven't done enough to honor the victims' life insurance policies.
Al Parsons, president of the Insurance Federation of Minnesota, said state regulators ``have a lot of power,'' but said he doubts the department would reject the acquisition.
ING said the Nazis seized 22,368 ING policies owned by Jews during World War II. After the war, ING tracked down Holocaust survivors and their families, and by 1955 only 10 percent of the affected policies remained unclaimed, the company said. Those policies were turned over to the Dutch government, which took over reparation efforts.
Several European insurers have faced allegations that they didn't make good on insurance policies written before the war. Five European insurers formed the International Commission on Holocaust-era Insurance Claims to find uncompensated Holocaust victims and their heirs and make reparations.
ING has applied to join but is not yet a member of the commission. The company's initial delay brought concern from commission head Lawrence Eagleburger, the World Jewish Congress and various state insurance commissioners. Some have called on Minnesota to delay ING's plans to buy ReliaStar until the issue is resolved.
State Commerce Commissioner Jim Bernstein said the department's acquisition approval process is expected to take about 30 days.