Marryatt insists on insurance claim secrecy
Details on how Civic Assurance is dealing with the Christchurch City Council's huge insurance claim will be kept secret after its chairman convinvced councillors that going public could jeopardise hundreds of millions of dollars.
Civic Assurance chairman Tony Marryatt appeared before the council's corporate and financial committee today but refused to release details on how the council's insurance claims were being handled in the public section of the meeting because of the arbitration under way with one of Civic's international reinsurers.
Marryatt said the council had a huge stake in the outcome of Civic's arbitration and it was important that he did nothing to jeopardise it.
''Civic Assurance lawyers have advised me that public disclosure of any details relating to Civic's reinsurance may well be a breach of the the reinsurance contract,'' he said.
''As much as I would like to be able to update the committee on Civic's position and strategy in public, to do so would in my opinion be totally irresponsible as I would be putting hundreds of millions of dollars of ratepayers' money at risk. I am simply not prepared to do this.''
He assured the council that Civic was committed to ensuring the council received a fair payout for its insurance claims.
''Civic's response to the Canterbury situation is being watched by local authorities throughout the country. Civic has to succeed in settling the council's claims it if wants to retain the confidence of the local government sector,'' Marryatt said.
He took the opportunity to defend his dual roles.
He said the potential for conflict between his roles as chief executive of the council and as a director of Civic Assurance had been examined by the Office of the Auditor-General.
That investigation had concluded the two roles were not incompatible.
''I have nothing to do in my council role with the [insurance] claims. I stay right out of it. I manage it [the potential for conflict of interest] as chief executive by having no involvement whatsoever in insurance matters,'' he said.
Asked by Cr Jimmy Chen how he prioritised the two roles, Marryatt said his council job ''always came first''.
Mayor Bob Parker, who does not normally attend the corporate and fianncial committee meetings, pointed out that local government executives had been involved in the governance of Civic Assurance since the sector set the company up 50 years ago because of its concerns at the ever-increasing insurance premiums councils were facing.