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MEP accuses Commission of denying access to Lloyd's probe

European Voice, April 5-11, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 14
By: Peter Chapman

The vice-chairman of the Parliament's petitions committee has lashed out at the European Commission over its refusal to hand over documents detailing its probe into the Lloyd's of London insurance market.

Several ex-members of Lloyd's, which nearly collapsed in the early 1990's following a spate of huge asbestosis claims, have petitioned MEPs to complain that the UK failed to properly apply an EU directive requiring checks that insurers could cover their liabilities.

Under Lloyd's rules these members, known as "names", are held fully liable for any losses made by the syndicates they join.

They say they would never have invested their money in the market had they known that Lloyd's faced such huge liabilities.

But although the Commission has launched a formal probe into the case, MEP Roy Perry claims officials have kept his committee totally in the dark over the progress of their investigations.

"The insurance directive says that an insurance company can trade if its assets meet its liabilities. It is doubtful that this is the case [with Lloyd's]," Perry said.

"The big issue we are facing is that the Commission and the UK government are denying us access [to information].

"The only thing we have seen is a questionnaire that the Commission sent to the UK in December. "We have not been allowed to see the answers" .

The UK conservative MEP added "I have never known anything like this before."

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