Monday, November 21, 2016

WWII hero fights the last battle

Things aren't going too well for prosecutors who are determined to have the Great White White that is former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg.  They are pretty desperate as they recently tried to use his World War II service against him.  The Wall Street Journal reported in an October 13 editorial:

The first weeks of Hank Greenberg’s trial suggest that, 11 years after then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer cried fraud and drove Mr. Greenberg out as CEO of AIG, prosecutors are still struggling to make a case.

The New York Attorney General’s office has been overruled on efforts to introduce hearsay evidence, as well as material irrelevant to the case. Prosecutors also struck out when they tried to have a lay witness offer opinions, a legal privilege reserved for experts. Without direct evidence that Mr. Greenberg committed fraud or told anyone to do so, the prosecution is attempting to make a circumstantial case that he was a control freak who therefore must have been responsible if anything improper occurred.

To buttress this narrative, the AG’s office has pointed to excerpts from a corporate memoir Mr. Greenberg co-authored in 2013. “Many of AIG’s senior managers were former U.S. military officers,” Mr. Greenberg and Lawrence Cunningham wrote. “The command-and-control hierarchy of military discipline, loyalty, and organization became part of AIG’s culture. Managers and employees assumed that corporate directives would be followed.”

What a destructive precedent it would set if courts decide that running a disciplined organization counts as evidence of complicity in allegedly illegal acts, whereas lax management is a liability shield on the assumption that weak executives don’t recognize wrongdoing.

If Mr. Greenberg’s request for a jury trial had not been denied, a panel of citizens would likely have been interested in more than mere assumptions. Two unassailable facts are that Mr. Greenberg built one of the largest insurance companies in the world and that Eliot Spitzer nearly destroyed it by replacing Mr. Greenberg with managers who bet on the housing market.

The various courtroom references to Mr. Greenberg’s military service may have inspired this illuminating exchange between Justice Charles Ramos and the former AIG CEO, captured in the trial transcript:

The court: I have one question or a couple of questions to ask Mr. Greenberg. You said you visited Europe from England. Was that in 1944?

The witness: Yes.

The court: Do you recall the month?

The witness: June.

The court: You wouldn’t recall the day; would you?

The witness: 1944, June 6th.


A note to the youngsters prosecuting Mr. Greenberg: That was D-Day. We’re guessing that the young staff sergeant who landed on Omaha Beach never dreamed that his military service would be used 72 years later as evidence against him. He probably had other things on his mind.

Kingfish note: Mr. Greenberg was attached to the Army Rangers on D-Day and earned a Bronze Star.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

So the Chevy chase rant from Christmas vacation comes to mind here. Especially the part where I believe he would call this lawyer a low life.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand don't forget golden parachutes and bonuses.

Anonymous said...

I'm not shedding any tears.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/may/28/bank-bailout-cost-taxpayers

Kingfish said...

Tell the truth.

Spitzer and his gang forced him out of AIG based on trumped up charges. They then dictated who would replace Greenberg. Spitzer's handpicked idiot is the one who got into the CDO crap, not Greenberg. He had the sense to stay away from that stuff.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish go watch the BIG SHORT. Movie is on Netflix right now. You cannot feel sorry for these guys. I won't do it., think about all the people who were in there late 60s who were forced to work at Walmart because of this tool shed.

Kingfish said...

I did. good movie. And you aren't paying attention to facts. Greenberg opposed the move into credit default swaps. AIG went all in on them when his successor pushed them.

Anonymous said...

"f Mr. Greenberg’s request for a jury trial had not been denied, "

Lawyers - help me out here. Isn't the right to be tried by a jury of one's peers guaranteed in the Constitution?

Anonymous said...

Overinsurance for private subprime mortgages, no one is innocent during 2007-2008 debacle. They knew and bet big that the govt would not fail. Problem is that me and you Mr.taxpayer pick up the bill when the casino(govt) fails which is pretty crappy.

Anonymous said...

Agree with kingfish on this one 100%. Eliot spitzer is one despicable human being. Someone should have beat the hell out of him decades ago. He resigned in disgrace as governor for paying prositutes. He went after Greenberg and his family on a personal vendetta. Really appalling for the prosecution holding a military heroes background/service to this country against him in a court of law. Wish Greenberg could sue spitzer personally.

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