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Booming maritime trade provides opportunities for drug and car smugglers

By Christopher Reynolds


MONTREAL _ On a crisp day in early March, Tony Boemi looks out on the stacked shipping containers that stretch into the horizon of the 26 kilometre-long Port of Montreal.

“We’ve been going up tremendously,” the port authority vice-president says.

Traffic at Canada’s second-largest port rose nine per cent in 2018 to the equivalent of more than 1.6 million 20-foot containers for the fifth straight year of record volumes, prompting concerns the docks will be overloaded by 2022. Vancouver and Halifax, the largest and third-largest ports, respectively, also saw record container traffic last year.

“I’d be lying if I said we weren’t struggling with managing the sudden surge,” Boemi says.

Driving the boom is Canadian demand for clothing, appliances and other consumer products made in Asia, as well as a new free trade agreement with Europe.

However, the surge in traffic comes with a downside: The additional containers present an opportunity for criminals to capitalize on limited law enforcement resources and hide more contraband among the legitimate goods.

Bud Garrick, an investigator with Presidia Security Consulting and former deputy director-general of the RCMP’s criminal intelligence service, said imported drugs and exported stolen cars constitute the biggest smuggling problem, with authorities nabbing only a small fraction of the spoils.

“Marine ports are an attractive environment for individuals with ill means and mind to smuggle things into Canada,” he said.  “The amount of cargo shipping containers that moves in and out of ports is phenomenal…It’s a magnitude problem.”

The criminal allure of ports is simple. Airports are under too much scrutiny, and air freight is costly. Overland smuggling does occur, but on a smaller scale.

“Trying to intercept smuggled cargo at a port is expensive and disruptive, and you’ll never have enough resources to catch most things through random screening,” Peter Hall, an associate professor of urban studies at Simon Fraser University, said in an email. “Mostly 1/8the CBSA 3/8 focus on screening for terrorist and bio-hazards.”

A 2015 federal auditor general’s report found that the Canada Border Services Agency “did not fully have the necessary authorities, information, practices and controls to implement its enforcement priorities and prevent the export of goods that contravene Canada’s export laws.”

Just like legitimate trade, black market port activity works both ways. Incoming ships bring drugs such as cocaine and heroin, while outbound ships contain a growing number of stolen vehicles.

“The most prolific is actually in Alberta,” said Henry Tso, vice-president of investigative services at the Insurance Bureau of Canada. “A lot of the cars are being shipped from Alberta to various ports in Canada, mainly Vancouver.”

More than 25,000 vehicles were stolen in Alberta in 2018, part of a 50 per cent increase over the past five years that stems in part from overseas demand for high-end pickup trucks and SUVs.

The thefts, which recent cases have linked to criminal organizations in West Africa, northern Europe, the Middle East and China, rely on human as well as technological flaws.

“Certain docks, there are some you know are run by organized crime. Even in Quebec, like the Montreal ports, one terminal is clean, the other one is not clean,” said Tso.

“The major issue is corruption,” said Anthony Nicaso, who has authored more than two-dozen books on organized crime.

“There is no political will to fight organized crime,” he said,  “probably because money does not stink, so who cares  money is money.”

Back at the Montreal port, Boemi estimates the CBSA thoroughly inspects about three per cent of containers that roll through the port. The CBSA declined to give statistics, but noted that screening devices such as gamma-ray detectors which sense radioactive material scan each container.

“The CBSA requires marine carriers to electronically transmit marine cargo data to the Agency 24 hours prior to the loading of cargo at a foreign port. This requirement allows the CBSA to effectively identify threats to Canada’s health, safety and security and take actions prior to cargo and conveyances leaving foreign ports,” the CBSA said in an email.

A Canadian Senate report from 2006 found that 15 per cent of stevedores and more than two-thirds of checkers who worked at the Montreal port had criminal records, along with more than half of the workers at an outside company contracted to pick up waste and maintain ships at the docks.

In an effort to boost security, the Port of Montreal now requires that truckers with Transport Canada security clearance have their fingerprints scanned upon entry.

The port and CBSA have signed on for a trial run of blockchain technology that aims to better secure and streamline freight shipping.

Jean-Pierre Fortin, president of the Customs and Immigration Union representing some 10,500 CBSA employees, is not satisfied.

“With stolen cars, with drugs, with guns, we need to increase our capacity to monitor this properly,” he said.

Increased Chubb Ownership in Huatai Insurance Group

Chubb Limited (NYSE: CB) today announced that it has received approval from the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission to increase the company’s ownership in Huatai Insurance Group Company Limited to 26.2% from its current 20%, effective February 27, 2019.  With the increased Chubb stake, Huatai Group becomes the first domestic Chinese financial services holding company to convert to a Sino-foreign equity joint venture.

Huatai Insurance Group is the holding company of Huatai P&C Insurance Company, Huatai Life Insurance Company, Huatai Asset Management Company, Huatai Baoxing Fund Management Company, among other subsidiaries.  Huatai Group’s insurance operations have more than 600 branches and 11 million customers.

“We made our first investment in Huatai in 2002 and became the company’s largest shareholder.  This increased ownership is an important milestone towards our goal of majority and beyond ownership,” said Evan G. Greenberg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Chubb.  “Chubb’s continuous investment in China over the past 17 years, including our wholly owned Chubb China subsidiary, demonstrates our long-term commitment to the development of a strong Chinese financial services industry and the important role it plays in serving Chinese society and the welfare of its people.”

About Chubb in China

Chubb’s history in China dates back to 1792 when a legacy company – the Insurance Company of North America (INA) – began providing protection to the pioneers of trade between the United States and China.  In 1897, INA appointed an agent in Shanghai and started to officially conduct business in China. Today, Chubb is proud to have participated in over 200 years of U.S.-China relations and views China as one of its greatest long-term opportunities.  The company looks forward to expanding its presence in China and making further contributions to the development of its insurance industry.

About Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company. With operations in 54 countries and territories, Chubb provides commercial and personal property and casualty insurance, personal accident and supplemental health insurance, reinsurance and life insurance to a diverse group of clients. As an underwriting company, we assess, assume and manage risk with insight and discipline. We service and pay our claims fairly and promptly. The company is also defined by its extensive product and service offerings, broad distribution capabilities, exceptional financial strength and local operations globally. Parent company Chubb Limited is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: CB) and is a component of the S&P 500 index. Chubb maintains executive offices in ZurichNew YorkLondonParis and other locations, and employs more than 30,000 people worldwide. Additional information can be found at:

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements: 

Forward-looking statements made in this press release, such as statements regarding Chubb’s investment in Huatai, reflect the company’s current views with respect to future events and are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements involve risks and uncertainties, which may cause actual results to differ materially from as set forth in these statements. Additional information regarding factors that could cause differences from these forward-looking statements appears in the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date on which they are made.

SOURCE Chubb Limited

Chubb & Carnegie Mellon University Award Cyber COPE Insurance Certification Designations to Agents and Brokers

Chubb and Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy have awarded the Cyber COPE Insurance CertificationSM (CCIC) designations to a group of insurance professionals who recently completed the program.

Co-created by Chubb and Carnegie Mellon in 2018, the program gives commercial agents, brokers, and wholesalers the opportunity to learn and become certified in industry best practices in cyber security risk management, governance, and operations.

“Agents and brokers who have completed this rigorous program have demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of the cyber risks facing businesses and organizations of all sizes and industries,” said Bobbie Goldie, Senior Vice President, North America Financial Lines at Chubb. “By being better educated about current cyber exposures, CCIC agents are better positioned to educate their clients on how to improve their cyber security protocols and manage their cyber risks.”

The seven-month program consisted of three residential sessions on Carnegie Mellon’s campus, a series of virtual learning modules, and a capstone project. Participants engaged in sessions about origins of computer science; cyber-risk resilience; cyber governance and insurance solutions; cyber law; diagnostics, assessment and measurement, including presenting about exposures and subsequent coverage; and more. The curriculum was administered by a combination of Chubb professionals and Carnegie Mellon professors.

“We are pleased to offer the prestigious CCIC designation to these outstanding graduates,” said David Ulicne, Heinz College Senior Director of Executive Education Programs. “This designation shows their incredible dedication to the insurance industry, as well as their ongoing commitment to educating themselves and their clients on the current cyber security risk challenges and mitigation practices.”

To maintain the designation, participants must attend two virtual sessions each year.

Chubb is currently accepting applications for the 2019 program. To apply, please visit:

About Chubb Cyber
Chubb is a leader in insuring cyber risk. Combining industry-leading underwriting and expert third-party incident response services, Chubb offers policies that are tailored to the specific needs and risks of its clients to ensure they are ready with the tools and expertise necessary should a cyber incident occur. Moving swiftly to connect clients with the proper parties to minimize data loss is only part of what Chubb delivers. Keeping an eye on the ever-evolving cyber security landscape, Chubb looks for ways to do more for its clients by offering cutting-edge products and holistic services to each and every client.

About Heinz College
The Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy is home to two internationally recognized graduate-level institutions at Carnegie Mellon University: the School of Information Systems and Management and the School of Public Policy and Management. This unique colocation combined with its expertise in analytics set Heinz College apart in the areas of cyber security, health care, the future of work, smart cities, and arts & entertainment. In 2016, INFORMS named Heinz College the #1 academic program for Analytics Education. For more information, please visit

About Chubb
Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and the largest commercial insurer in the United States. With operations in 54 countries and territories, Chubb provides commercial and personal property and casualty insurance, personal accident and supplemental health insurance, reinsurance and life insurance to a diverse group of clients. As an underwriting company, we assess, assume and manage risk with insight and discipline. We service and pay our claims fairly and promptly. The company is also defined by its extensive product and service offerings, broad distribution capabilities, exceptional financial strength and local operations globally. Parent company Chubb Limited is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: CB) and is a component of the S&P 500 index. Chubb maintains executive offices in Zurich, New York, London and other locations, and employs approximately 31,000 people worldwide. Additional information can be found at:

Chubb Insurance Company of Canada has offices in Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver and provides its products and services through licensed insurance brokers across Canada. For additional information, visit:


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