Maria Bartiromo accuses Eliot Spitzer of having a personal vendetta against the former CEO of AIG, Hank Greenberg: isn’t this the very same Hank Greenberg who was fined $15 million?!?!

Maria Bartiromo:  I want to ask you about these new explosive allegations surrounding your charges against Hank Greenberg when he ran AIG.  You brought eight charges against Greenberg during your time as attorney general.  Six have been dropped:  six out of the eight.  Two remain.  Six have been dropped.

Eliot Spitzer:  No.  Maria, let’s deal with facts for a minute.  We brought a charge that AIG’s accounting was fundamentally fraudulent. The company admitted that.  The Justice Department, the SEC, joined us in those charges.  The company’s board removed Hank Greenberg.

Because of the silliness that is attached to this claim, people saying that I did this out of personal invective, or somehow personal animus:  can I tell you something pretty simple?  I don’t know if this will make Hank feel better or not, I have no emotions about him one way or the other.  He is merely one in a litany of corporate executives who defrauded the market.  We prosecuted them.

The charge against a prosecutor, that a prosecutor’s motive is flawed, is the last refuge of the guilty.  I had this claim made against me by every person that we prosecuted.   Hank Greenberg was thrown out by his own company’s board.  He was called a conspirator by a federal judge.

Maria Bartiromo:  Under pressure from you.   In fact, some people might say that the collapse of AIG lays at your feet, because if Hank Greenberg had been there, he would not have allowed some of that craziness and risk being taken on.

Eliot Spitzer:  Maria, who still think that the sun revolves around the earth.  You know, let’s deal with reality here.  Hank Greenberg’s accounting was fraudulent.  His company threw him out.

Maria Bartiromo:  You can’t say fraudulent because there is no indictment.  You can’t just throw around the word fraud.

Eliot Spitzer:  Here is the federal judge’s opinion that said that he was a conspirator.  Here are the headlines:  his company throwing him out.

Maria Bartiromo:  Then why six out of the eight charges were dropped then.  What is the answer?

Eliot Spitzer:   You want to know why?  The answer is we charged the company, cleaned it up, got new leadership.  The Southern District said to me, we are going to bring the charges.  We let the Southern District.  This has all been documented.  We said, you want to do it?  That’s fine.  We let them.

Maria Bartiromo:  And Hank Greenberg is still not running, TV star, running, you know, living his life, so all of these charges that you throw away so cavalier, there is no evidence to support that.

Eliot Spitzer:   Maria, look, I hate to say this to you, deal with facts and reality, not what Hank Greenberg’s PR machine wants you to believe.  Hank Greenberg was thrown out by his own board.  His company paid $1.6 billion in a settlement, acknowledged that his accounting was fraudulent.  These are in facts.  Read the federal judicial opinion.  He was the one that instigated the conspiracy.  He is the one that began, this is a federal judge, began and instigated the conspiracy, fraudulent reinsurance contract.  Do you know who brought the case to me?

Maria Bartiromo:  But no charge.  But all those charges have been dropped.   You’re still not answering that.  I want to take you back three days ago because we talked with your predecessor in the New York Attorney General’s Office, Dennis Vacco.  He says he heard you make comments that demonstrate you had a personal vendetta against Greenberg.  Let me play what he said on this program three days ago.  I want to get your reaction.  Listen to this.  Dennis Vacco.

Dennis Vacco:  It wasn’t that he was hammering his fist on the desk or or on the table, citing allegations of wrong doing or corruption.   His tirade was much more personal in nature, and it left me with an uneasy feeling there was some kind of personal animus that was driving him at that point in time, and I was really surprised and taken aback when Mr. Spitzer, after referencing some comments that Hank Greenberg had made recently, my recollection is that Greenberg had said something to the effect that Spitzer was prosecuting him for murder for essentially jaywalking.

But what followed from that comment was rather a startling personal attack that I was really quite surprised by.

Maria Bartiromo:   That’s what I want to ask you about.  Because after the interview, we are told that you placed a call to Hank Greenberg’s lawyers, the firm Boies, Schiller.  Allegedly you told them, because your firm is in bed with someone like Hank, you will have to bear the consequences.  I have a bazooka pointed at you and everyone else at your firm who is involved.  Did you say this on July 10th?

Eliot Spitzer:  No.  Here is where we are.  David Boies is a good friend of mine.  David Boies is representing Hank Greenberg.   In the past they have made representations in their briefs that they immediately had to withdraw; you can call them and ask them about that.  They had made unsubstantiated counter-factual statements in their briefs, so they needed to send a letter to the court saying, no, we were wrong, that is not where that statement was made.   Ask them about the footnote where in the past they tried to challenge my motive for bringing the case as it is wrong.  They are hired guns.  They are paid well to say what they’re saying, and they have been wrong repeatedly.  Maria, let’s come back to facts.

Maria Bartiromo:  So are you saying you did not say it or did you say it?  Did you say, I have a bazooka at your head?

Eliot Spitzer:  No, I had a nice conversation with Nick Gravante, in which I said, can you send me the statement that David has made.   You guys have made statements in the past that have needed to be withdrawn.   Please send me the statement so that I can see what it says.

Maria, let’s come back to facts here for a minute.  Hank Greenberg was removed by his own board.

Maria Bartiromo:  From pressure from you.

Eliot Spitzer:  No, no pressure from me.

Maria Bartiromo:  C’mon! Ha, Ha!

Eliot Spitzer:   The Board of AIG, which had the most august membership, fired and removed Hank Greenberg because I called up the phone and said I want him gone?!

Maria Bartiromo:  You went on Sunday morning television and said he committed fraud And you have no evidence of this so many years later, still.  His people say you destroyed his reputation and caused the collapse of AIG.

Eliot Spitzer:  Unfortunately I have in front of me the transcript of what I said on Sunday morning TV.  You want the transcript?   These were created for the purpose of deceiving the market.  That’s fraud, it was a black box run by a CEO that did not tell the public the truth.

Maria Bartiromo:  You used the word fraud, that’s the point.   That’s the point, and then you color everybody else’s opinion even though to this day we don’t have any charges of that.  The charges are being dropped.

Eliot Spitzer:  Here is the federal court judgment.  Facts matter.  I know this is cable TV, but facts matter.

Maria Bartiromo:  I’m aware of facts matter.

Eliot Spitzer:  You need to understand that AIG was being lead by a CEO whose accountant was fraudulent.

Maria Bartiromo:  Hank, you know — I know he is trying he is trying to get your personal e-mails because he says you also tried to get him — bring him down.  Are you going to release those e-mails?

Eliot Spitzer:  As I said to people, well, ain’t no such thing.   Hank Greenberg at AIG committed fraud.   The record of on —

Maria Bartiromo:  You keep saying it again, fraud, but there’s no charge of fraud.

Eliot Spitzer:  Here is the 29-page federal court opinion.  I don’t know why you keep saying there’s no evidence.

Maria Bartiromo:  I say it because when you’re the judge, jury, and executor, it’s important for our viewers to understand what went on and give people the benefit of the doubt if there is no evidence supporting that.

Eliot Spitzer:  Have you read this opinion?  I’m waiting for an answer.

Maria Bartiromo:  What was the question.

Eliot Spitzer:  Have you read the opinion?

Maria Bartiromo:  Yes i have.

Eliot Spitzer:  Does it say that he’s a conspirator.  Let’s talk facts.  I’m going to be very serious.

Maria Bartiromo:  I’m not under oath for you, and I’m not in your courtroom. you’re on my show, and thank you for joining us Eliot Spitzer.  I’m asking you a question.

Eliot Spitzer:  You said you read the opinion, because its says that Hank Greenberg’s action led to fraud.

Maria Bartiromo:  You said it, you have continued to say it, and you say it all the time, and I just want to get to the facts here.

Eliot Spitzer:  Maria, here is the problem.  The problem is that you want to repeat ad nauseam things that are coming out of the PR machine of Hank Greenberg that defie factual record.   Maria, I will ask you to give deference to a guest.   The reason the Wall Street environment is falling apart, pardon me, is there is an inability on Wall Street’s part to acknowledge what happened.  If they said those were flawed, we should not have done it, we won’t do it again, we’re done.  That’s what we did in most of the cases.

He continues to this day to dispute facts that have been proven beyond any dispute. Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett came to us and said it.   It’s all documented.  This is the history, it is clearly known.   I think if the public were to understand what was going on at AIG, they would agree that if anything, more should have been done.   The Justice Department looked at it, the SEC looked at it, we all forced that change at AIG, there is no doubt about it, no dispute about it, this is what we need in terms of smart prosecution.

Maria Bartiromo:  It’s good to have you on the program, I enjoyed this.  Very good exchange.

Eliot Spitzer:  Here is the deal, next time you come on my show.

Maria Bartiromo:  I’ll see you on current TV.

Eliot Spitzer:  We’ll see you soon, thank you.

Maria Bartiromo:  You can catch Mr. Spitzer on Current TV week nights at 8:00 PM.

[Unofficial transcript!]

About William Brighenti

William Brighenti is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified Business Valuation Analyst. Bill began his career in public accounting in 1979. Since then he has worked at various public accounting firms throughout Connecticut. Bill received a Master of Science in Professional Accounting degree from the University of Hartford, after attending the University of Connecticut and Central Connecticut State University for his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees. He subsequently attended Purdue University for doctoral studies in Accounting and Quantitative Methods in Business. Bill has instructed graduate and undergraduate courses in Accounting, Auditing, and other subjects at the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University, Hartford State Technical College, and Purdue University. He also taught GMAT and CPA Exam Review Classes at the Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Center and at Person-Wolinsky, and is certified to teach trade-related subjects at Connecticut Vocational Technical Schools. His articles on tax and accounting have been published in several professional journals throughout the country as well as on several accounting websites. William was born and raised in New Britain, Connecticut, and served on the City's Board of Finance and Taxation as well as its City Plan Commission. In addition to the blog, Accounting and Taxes Simplified, Bill writes a blog, "The Barefoot Accountant", for the Accounting Web, a Sift Media publication.
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One Response to Maria Bartiromo accuses Eliot Spitzer of having a personal vendetta against the former CEO of AIG, Hank Greenberg: isn’t this the very same Hank Greenberg who was fined $15 million?!?!

  1. Pingback: Cenk Uygur attacks Maria Bartiromo and CNBC for protecting the fraudsters on Wall Street | The Barefoot Accountant on Accounting, QuickBooks, Taxes, Money, and Politics

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