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Fri, Apr 03, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Former AIG head Greenberg feels ‘no responsibility’

AFP , WASHINGTON

The former head of disgraced insurance giant American International Group (AIG), Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, said in an interview published yesterday that he does not “feel any responsibility at all” for the company’s problems.

Greenberg, 83, was set to testify yesterday before a congressional committee, his first public appearance under oath since the government’s first bailout of the firm in September.

At the hearing, he plans to propose reducing the government’s stake in AIG and pressuring trading partners to invest back into the company, the Wall Street Journal said on its Web site.

“Somebody should lean on them,” Greenberg told the Journal, referring to trading partners that received massive payments thanks to a government rescue that has so far exceeded US$170 billion.

AIG has been vilified by politicians and analysts after it was revealed it was still paying bonuses worth around US$165 million despite the huge cash injections by Washington to keep it from collapsing. The company has since said it will return about US$50 million of the bonuses.

Greenberg helped turn the firm into the world’s biggest insurer before he was forced out in 2005.

“I don’t feel any responsibility at all” for AIG’s problems, Greenberg told the newspaper. “How can I be responsible for something that occurred when I’m not there?”

In his prepared testimony, Greenberg said that reducing the federal government’s stake in the company from its current level of about 80 percent to 15 percent would attract private investors.

The Journal said Greenberg was expected to urge pressuring AIG’s trading partners — including big US and foreign banks — to invest some of the money they received from the bailout back into the company.

The former AIG executive, who now leads another insurer, C.V. Starr & Co, acknowledged he had been impacted by AIG’s decline, although he minimized his losses.

“Of course, I lost considerable net worth,” he told the Journal. “But I’m working. My life is not materially changed.”

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