New York Life in first genocide payment

Insurance Day
January 25, 2005

New York Life in first genocide payment

THE Armenian genocide case against New York Life has taken a further
step towards resolution with $3m being released by the Armenian
Insurance Settlement Fund Board for distribution to nine Armenian

It is the first payment to be made since a $20m settlement was agreed
last January (ID, Jan 30, 2004). The settlement will see payments
made to descendants of Armenians killed 90 years ago in the Turkish
Ottoman Empire, following the agreement by New York Life to pay all
valid claims on more than 2,000 insurance policies issued before

During the 1800s and early 1900s, New York Life sold thousands of
life insurance policies to ethnic Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.
Armenians have always maintained 1.5m people were executed by Turkish
authorities between 1915 and 1919 on allegations of helping the
Russian Army. California’s insurance commissioner John Garamendi has
described the act as a “deliberate, systematic and
government-controlled genocide”.

This $3m charity payment was agreed under last January’s settlement,
and ratified at a final hearing in July.

The nine organisations set to benefit are: the Armenian General
Benevolent Union, the Armenian Relief Society, the Armenian Education
Foundation, the Armenian Missionary Association, the Armenian
Catholic Church, both the Eastern and Western dioceses of the
Armenian Church of North America, and both the Eastern and Western
prelacies of the Armenian Apostolistic Church.

The settlement fund board, an independent body appointed by Mr
Garamendi to evaluate claims relating to the case, is set to begin
considering individual claims in March. As well as the $2m charity
donations, the settlement includes $11m for the heirs of the
policyholders and $6m for attorneys’ fees and administrative

All descendants of policyholders wishing to claim must register their
notice of claim forms with the board by March 16.

Separately, JP Morgan has sent a letter of apology to staff following
the revelation that around 13,000 slaves were used as loan collateral
by two banks which later merged into the JP Morgan group.

The two companies involved Canal Bank and Citizens Bank were later
swallowed up by other organisations which merged into Bank One,
bought by JP Morgan last year.

Following the revelation, JP Morgan has said it will set up a $5m
student scholarship programme in Louisiana, where the event took