Did AIG's Mr. Greenberg set out to become the poster boy for corporate ingratitude and chutzpah?
I expect you've heard about this Maurice Greenberg, the former AIG chief executive who had his ass saved by the government bailout and was inspired to a novel form of thanks: suing the federal government to the tune of $25B for amounts he and other AIG shareholders say they lost as the result of what they claim, as represented by the NYT's Michael J. de la Merced and Ben Protess, were the "onerous terms" exacted by the dagnab gummint.
As a counter-offer, I suggest taking the final value of the suers' shares and subtracting the value they would have had if the government hadn't intervened -- as, perhaps, toilet paper -- and giving the sons of bitches 48 hours to write checks for what they owe. Once payment is received, we can call it quits, except of course for parties at AIG who are adjudged to have engaged in civil or criminal malfeasance.
For them, and surely at the top of the list would be our Mr. Greenberg, it should be possible to come up with a generous enough package of both civil and criminal wrongdoing to ensure that even by the time the sentences are knocked down to a small fraction of their proper size by the "rich white scumbags' network" that cradles our "justice" system, the asshole Greenberg will be left with:
* on the criminal front, a term of incarceration that guarantees he will die in prison, and --
* on the civil front, penalties stiff enough to ensure that he's not left with a thin dime -- not him or anyone related to him, or anyone who's ever so much as said hello to him in the street (and anyone who tries to slip him so much as a thin dime should know that investigators will instigate full inquiries to determine whether any portion of that dime might be the proceeds of illegal activity).
The suit has already been tossed by the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, which is the district that includes, you guessed it, Wall Street! As the NYT team reports, "That decision is under review by the federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, though the judge in the Court of Federal Claims in Washington declined to dismiss the case."
The new development in the case is that at a meeting of the current board of AIG this morning, it was decided that the company would not support Mr. Greenberg's
After the meeting, which lasted all morning, the board voted to steer clear of the case. It also opted to ask Mr. Greenberg to stop pursuing legal claims in the company's name.It's pointed out that AIG had some sort of legal obligation on behalf of its shareholders to at least consider joining the lawsuit.
"In considering and ultimately refusing the demand before us, the board of directors properly and fully executed our fiduciary and legal obligations to A.I.G. and its shareholders," Robert S. Miller, A.I.G.'s chairman, said in a statement.
A.I.G. directors faced a difficult choice. Joining the case would have added to public outrage over the company's bailout, one of the biggest and most controversial of the crisis. Lawmakers in recent days have warned the company not to side with Mr. Greenberg, which would make it "the poster company for corporate ingratitude and chutzpah."In case you were worried about our Mr. Greenberg and his fellow suers running short of pocket cash for the occasional night out at Wendy's, they're represented by David Boies. He said in a statement: "We continue to believe that the attempt by the A.I.G. board to prevent Starr International from pursing claims on behalf of A.I.G. shareholders is contrary to the shareholders’ interests.
The meeting coincided with an aggressive advertising campaign by the company thanking taxpayers for rescuing it during the crisis. And it comes only weeks after the insurer fully repaid its bailout, generating about $22 billion in profit for the public.
Mr. Miller reiterated the company's gratitude for the bailout.
"America invested in 62,000 AIG employees, and we kept our promise to rebuild this great company, repay every dollar America invested in us, and deliver a profit to those who put their trust in us," he said. "We continue to thank America for its support."
But the members of A.I.G.'s board, most of whom joined after the rescue effort, owed a duty to shareholders to consider the lawsuit. Mr. Greenberg could challenge the decision to abstain as failing to fulfill legal obligations to investors.
Still, corporate law afforded the board leeway in deciding whether to pursue the case.
For further background on the suit, we turn to the Borowitz Report.
Januar 8, 2013
NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) -- Today, American International Group (A.I.G.) issued the following letter to American taxpayers.
Dear American Taxpayers:
In 2008, you paid for a bailout of A.I.G. totalling $182 billion. Today, we are writing to tell you that we're thinking of suing you.
When we made this decision, we knew we were in for some rough treatment from the media. We've been called everything from soulless bloodsuckers to Satan's scabrous handmaidens, and worse. At A.I.G., though, we have a different name for ourselves: true American heroes.
You see, by suing the same people who bailed out our asses just five years ago, we are standing up for one of the most precious American rights of all: the right to sue someone who has just saved your life.
Let's say that you're trapped in a burning building and a fireman pulls you out to safety. Once you're out of the fire, though, you notice that the fireman carelessly ripped the lapel of your Armani jacket. Shouldn't you be able to sue the fireman for the full cost of its replacement?
Or let's say you're drowning in the ocean. A lifeguard dives in, pulls you back onto the shore, and administers mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Aren't you entitled to take appropriate action -- i.e., sue him for sexual harassment?
By suing you, we are standing up for the right of every other American who might, through no fault of his own, have his life saved and want to sue the person who saved him for millions of dollars. And that's why we're asking for your help today.
Lawsuits aren't cheap. They require highly paid lawyers, who rack up millions in legal fees, not to mention first-class airfare, hotels, and sumptuous gourmet meals -- hardly the kind of expense that we at A.I.G. can afford.
That's why we'd like you to pay for it.
You may think we're expecting a lot, asking you for the money necessary for us to sue you. But, remember, there's a bigger principle at stake, and someday, if you're pulled from a burning building or an ocean, you'll be glad you stood with us today.
Oh, and as for our ad campaign, "Thank you, America"? We're sticking with that, just changing the first word.
See you in court,
Your friends at A.I.G.