London marine insurers widen Middle East threat zone after ship attacks

London’s marine insurance market has extended the list of waters deemed high risk to include Oman, the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf after ship attacks off Fujairah. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 May 2019

London marine insurers widen Middle East threat zone after ship attacks

  • The London insurance market’s Joint War Committee said in a statement that the additions cover areas of perceived enhanced risk for marine insurers and reflected enhanced regional risk
  • The Joint War Committee also added adjacent waters around the Gulf of Oman to its high risk list

LONDON: London’s marine insurance market has extended the list of waters deemed high risk to include Oman, the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf after ship attacks off Fujairah, officials said on Friday, in a move that could push up premiums.
The London insurance market’s Joint War Committee said in a statement that the additions cover areas of perceived enhanced risk for marine insurers and reflected enhanced regional risk.
“The situation will be kept under close review,” said the Joint War Committee, whose guidance influences decisions by underwriters on insurance premiums.
Four tankers, comprising Saudi Arabian, UAE and Norwegian-flagged ships, were attacked on Sunday off Fujairah. No one has claimed responsibility for the incident.
The attacks took place against a backdrop of US-Iranian tension following Washington’s decision this month to try to cut Tehran’s oil exports to zero and beef up its military presence in the Gulf in response to what it called Iranian threats.
Iran accuses Washington of stoking tensions and had denied it had any role in the attacks.
The Joint War Committee, made up of syndicate members from the Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA) and representatives from the London insurance company market, normally meets every quarter to review areas it considers high risk for merchant vessels and prone to war, terrorism, piracy and related perils.
The Joint War Committee, which met on Thursday after developments in the Middle East ahead of Friday’s decision, also added adjacent waters around the Gulf of Oman to its high risk list. The last update to the list was in June 2018.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Norway have launched an investigation and have described the attacks as deliberate. They have not blamed anyone.
“Very little information is to hand about the explosions at Fujairah anchorage on May 12 and the circumstances and methods employed remain unclear,” the Joint War Committee said in further comments.
“There is no doubt that considerable damage was done and there will be significant claims,” it added.
The London marine insurance market plays an influential role in the global marine insurance industry.
A confidential Norwegian insurers’ report seen by Reuters concluded that Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards were “highly likely” to have facilitated the attacks on the tankers.
Iran has said the attacks on the tankers were a cause for concern and has called for an investigation.
Iran said on Friday it could “easily” hit US warships in the Gulf, the latest verbal broadside in the spat between Washington and Tehran.


South Korea seeks arrest of Samsung heir in succession probe

Updated 04 June 2020

South Korea seeks arrest of Samsung heir in succession probe

  • Jay Y. Lee faces a return to jail just a little over two years after being released from detention

SEOUL: South Korean prosecutors have requested an arrest warrant against Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee, they said on Thursday, in the investigation of a controversial 2015 merger and alleged accounting fraud in a suspected bid to aid his succession plans.
The move spells fresh trouble for Lee, who, if arrested, faces a return to jail just a little over two years after being released from detention in February 2018.
Lee already faces trial on a charge of bribery aimed at winning support to succeed ailing group patriarch Lee Kun-hee, and which involved former President Park Geun-hye, and spent a year in detention until the bribery case was suspended in 2018.
Prosecutors said they sought Lee’s arrest on suspicions of stock price manipulation and audit rule violations, among other offenses.
In a statement, Lee’s lawyers expressed “deep regret” at the prosecution’s decision to seek his arrest, adding that he had fully cooperated with the investigation while Samsung was going through management crises.
Prosecutors have been investigating suspected accounting fraud at drug company Samsung Biologics after the Korean financial watchdog complained the firm’s value had been inflated by $3.7 billion in 2015.
Prosecutors contend the violation helped boost the value of its major owner, Cheil Industries, which counted Lee as its top shareholder, and merged with Samsung C&T, a de facto holding firm, Yonhap news agency said.
Samsung requested an outside review of the investigation to weigh the validity of the indictment and the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office is following the necessary procedures, it said in a statement.
Last month, prosecutors questioned Lee, 51, over the latest investigation. He also apologized for a series of controversies around his succession planning.
Lee’s year in detention followed separate charges that he bribed Park to win government support for the 2015 merger which helped tighten his control of South Korea’s top conglomerate.