Poochigian Presents Bill to Ensure Genocide Life Ins. Settlements

Poochigian Presents Bill to Ensure Armenian Genocide Life Insurance
Settlements Reach Victims’ Families
Published on Thursday, April 22, 2004

April 21, 2004

SACRAMENTO – Senator Chuck Poochigian (R-Fresno) has introduced Senate Bill
1689 to exempt Armenian Genocide life insurance settlements from state
taxation and other calculations related to income. The bill passed out of
the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee today o­n a 5-0 vote.

If ultimately approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor
Schwarzenegger, recipients of settlement payments would not have their state
income tax, financial aid or unemployment benefits negatively impacted by
their receipt of such settlements. The bill’s language mirrors exemptions
similarly afforded recipients of reparations and other legal
settlements related to the Holocaust.

“Survivors and heirs of victims of the Armenian Genocide have waited many
decades to resolve their claims. Correcting a past wrong should not have the
unintended consequence of financially harming the victims and their heirs
now,” said Senator Poochigian.

The Armenian Genocide-the First Genocide of the 21st Century-was marked by
unspeakable crimes against humanity. 1.5 million Armenians were subjected to
forced marches into the desert, torture, mayhem and murder. Thousands of
innocent children were orphaned. Those who escaped left behind all their
worldly possessions and emigrated to other nations.

Prior to 1915, the New York Life Insurance Company wrote over 2,000
insurance policies to Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Many of these
policies were written for individuals who became victims of the Armenian
Genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Heirs o­n the policies later
sued for the value of the policies. In 2004, New York Life settled with
claimants resulting in a settlement of $20 million. A significant portion of
settlement will go to settle claims with heirs o­n the policies.

Senate Bill 1689 is modeled after Senate Bill 1397 (Brulte) and Assembly
Bill 989 (Chan) which exempted Swiss bank claim settlements and restitution
payment made to victims of the Holocaust.

Senate Bill 1689 reflects Senator Poochigian’s o­ngoing effort to affirm the
historical fact of the Armenian Genocide, promote the cause of justice for
victims, and guard against recurrence of such acts. In 2000, Senator
Poochigian authored Senate Bill 1915 which enabled victims and heirs of
victims of the Armenian Genocide to access the California court system to
compel insurance companies to pay insurance claims owed to victims of the
Genocide. That bill received the unanimous approval of the Legislature and
provided the opportunity to pursue contractual claims pertaining to the
recent settlement.

SB 1689 is expected to be heard next in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
No hearing date has been set.


Senator Poochigian’s website can be found by visiting:


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