While we all ponder what to eat for lunch today, the board of bailed-out insurance biggie AIG are meeting today to discuss whether or not to take part in a $25 billion lawsuit filed by its former CEO against the federal government.
In an effort to try to make that decision easier on the AIG board, a handful of lawmakers have reached out to the company to ask that it opt out of suing the very folks that invested $182 billion into it when the economy crashed in 2008.
The NY Times DealBook reports that among those asking for AIG to vote against joining the lawsuit is Elizabeth Warren, the new Senator from Massachusetts who had helped set up — and many believe should have been put in charge of — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“A.I.G.’s reckless bets nearly crashed our entire economy. Taxpayers across this country saved A.I.G. from ruin, and it would be outrageous for this company to turn around and sue the federal government because they think the deal wasn’t generous enough. Even today, the government provides an ongoing, stealth bailout, propping up A.I.G. with special tax breaks — tax breaks that Congress should stop. A.I.G. should thank American taxpayers for their help, not bite the hand that fed them for helping them out in a crisis.“
A trio of Congressman — Peter Welch of Vermont, Michael Capuano of Massachusetts, and Luis Gutierrez of Illinois — sent a joint letter to the board.
“A.I.G. became the poster company for Wall Street greed, fiscal mismanagement, and executive bonuses – the taxpayer and economy be damned,” wrote the Congressmen. “Now, A.I.G. apparently seeks to become the poster company for corporate ingratitude and chutzpah.”
AIG CEO Robert Benmosche points out that the board has a responsibility to discuss the lawsuit, which alleges that the government takeover violated shareholders’ Fifth Amendment rights by taking their property (in the form of AIG shares) without providing just compensation.
“A.I.G. has paid back its debt to America with a profit, and we mean it when we say thank you to the American people,” explains Benmosche, echoing the sentiment expressed in the recent spate of AIG TV ads. “At the same time, the board of directors has fiduciary and legal obligations to the company and its shareholders to consider the demand served on us and respond in a fair, appropriate, and timely manner.”