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SFO adds weight to CBL Insurance probes

The Serious Fraud Office is now investigating CBL Insurance and associated entities, adding to investigations by the Reserve Bank and Financial Markets Authority.

Auckland-based CBL Corp had its stock suspended from the NZX on February 8 amid concerns from NZX Regulation about the information it had given the market. This follows communication between NZX, the FMA, Reserve Bank and a number of overseas regulators with prudential oversight of CBL’s international insurance business. On February 20, CBL Insurance told the Reserve Bank it was continuing to operate despite being below the minimum regulatory solvency level.

CBL then appointed KordaMentha as voluntary administrators on March 2, after the Reserve Bank sought an interim liquidation of its New Zealand supervised arm, and the Central Bank of Ireland made a similar move against the insurer's European division. CBL Insurance is a unit of NZX-listed company, CBL Corp, which is in voluntary administration.

Yesterday the SFO said it is "investigating matters relating to CBL Insurance and associated entities". It said the Reserve Bank is cooperating, but it would not be commenting further at the moment.

The Auckland High Court has set aside three days beginning July 30 to hear the Reserve Bank’s application to liquidate CBL Insurance, with the central bank alleging CBL breached solvency margins and statutory directions.

The FMA said last month that it intends to clarify with the court whether continuous disclosure rules still apply to listed companies if they enter voluntary administration, due to the circumstances surrounding CBL.

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