AIG Bailout Trial Starts Monday; Wall Street Bigwigs to Testify

The trial on the lawsuit filed by Maurice “Hank” Greenberg against the United States government in connection with the bailout of American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG) will start on Monday, September 29.

Some of the big names at Wall Street are preparing to testify at the AIG bailout trial including John Studzinski, a senior managing director at The Blackstone L.P. (NYSE:BX) and Rodgin Cohen, senior chairman at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP.

Former government officials including former Treasury secretary Hank Paulson, his successor Tim Geithner, former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and vice chairman Dohn Kohn, are expected to give their testimony during the AIG bailout trial.

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The existing and former board members of American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG) are also expected to testify during the hearing.

In a ruling last Friday, Judge Thomas Wheeler of the United States Court of Federal Claims emphasized that all witnesses were given sufficient time to plan for the hearing. They are expected to appear in court as scheduled.

Greenberg’s allegation against U.S. gov’t over AIG takeover

Greenberg and his firm, Starr International alleged that the United States government’s decision to takeover American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG) during the 2008 financial crisis was unconstitutional, and violated the Fifth Amendment—improper use of private sector assets.

The United States government provided $182.3 billion bailout and acquired 79.9% stake in American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG) during the financial crisis in 2008. The government conducted a reverse stock split, which diluted the stockholdings of the existing shareholders of the insurance giant.

Prior to the bailout, AIG was suffering huge losses. At the time, Starr International was AIG’s largest shareholder with 12% stake in the company. The insurance giant completely repaid the bailout in 2012, and taxpayers gained almost $23 billion.

According to a former official from the Treasury department who repeatedly testified in several cases said, “They are re-litigating the whole bailout. The argument from his lawyers is basically that AIG was entitled to a better bailout and that others such as Citi had better terms.”

The former Treasury official added, “They say the government was obligated to be even-handed. They are implying that before the crisis government was so lax that it encouraged AIG to take a risk and allowed it to fail in a scheme to extract equity.”

Greenberg’s legal counsel, David Boies previously stated that the main intention of the U.S. government in taking over American International Group Inc (NYSE: AIG) was to protect the financial system and economy. He pointed out the government’s intention might be commendable, but as a matter of basic law, it “could not and did not justify the unlawful means employed. The government is not empowered to trample shareholder and property rights in the midst of a financial emergency.”

Court rejected government’s motion to dismiss Greenberg’s case

Last month, Judge Wheeler dismissed the motion of the United States government to dismiss Greenberg’s lawsuit related to the AIG bailout. The judge ruled that the case deserves analysis and testimony from qualified witness because it involves “complex financial and economic issues.”