After a 12-year court battle, former American International Group (NYSE:AIG) CEO Maurice “Hank” Greenberg will pay $9.9 million to settle with the New York attorney general’s office, which accused him of corporate fraud while running the insurer.
During an exclusive interview with the FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo, Greenberg weighed in on the settlement. He said he never agreed to fraud and wants an apology from the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
“The language in the settlement by the mediator and both sides—the word fraud is never used and it shouldn’t have been.” Greenberg said. “Yet after the announcement, Schneiderman put out a release and went back and used the word fraud even though he had signed off on the language as he should have.”
Greenberg, however, did agree that there were inaccuracies, but pointed out that they had no impact on shareholders’ equity or earnings per share. Greenberg also mentioned, under the Martin Act in New York, you can be tried for fraud even without the prosecutor having to show intent to deceive.
“We were a company in 137 countries, we had thousands and thousands of employees—yes, people make mistakes periodically. That’s not fraud,” he said.
Even so, Greenberg was not upset over the financial loss forfeited in the settlement. He was more concerned with the fallout for the company.
“It’s not the money,” he said. “It’s what they did to the company that I’m unhappy about. It was the largest insurance company in history, in 137 countries, employed over 100 thousand people -- many now have lost their jobs, good paying jobs. Is that in our national interest?”
He added, “I feel good that it’s over, but that’s not vindication, not yet,” he said. “[The New York Attorney General] owes me an apology.”
Greenberg stepped down as the CEO of AIG in 2005. He is currently the Chairman and CEO of private insurer C.V. Starr.