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He has battled Eliot Spitzer and AIG. Now, Hank Greenberg faces another potential foe: the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The former AIG chief has received a “Wells notice”, which gives recipients a warning that civil charges may be forthcoming from the SEC. The charges, of course, stem from the financial transactions that resulted in his ouster and heavy fines for the company about three years ago.
You can almost hear the sighs coming from Greenberg’s new headquarters on Manhattan’s Park Avenue. There’s nothing the 83-year-old executive would like more than to restore his reputation and discredit those who took him away from his beloved AIG.
Greenberg has enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance lately. People seek out his views on everything from insurance trends to China’s leadership. They pine for the days when he was at the helm of the financial services giant, racking up double-digit earnings gains amid a steady ascent in the stock. Many thought Spitzer was mean-spirited in orchestrating his ouster, even joining Greenberg in raising a virtual glass when the man stepped down as New York governor after consorting with prostitutes.
And now this. Greenberg has denied again that he did anything improper when it came to presenting AIG’s financial picture. He will fight this, as he fought Spitzer.
With the SEC already so stretched, you have to wonder if this is a good use of its resources. Greenberg has been kicked out of AIG and publicly humiliated. Executives at the company he built seem hesitant to even mention his name. Now, more than three years after the alleged improprieties that ripped apart the company and its former chief (as well as several other executives), the SEC is here to wield its bat as well? Enough, already.
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