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[American International Group is the latest in a series of large-scale enterprises whose fraudulent accounting practices have recently seen the light of day. AIG is a very big fish, not only because of the quantities of money involved but because of long-standing connections to US intelligence. This is deep stuff, reaching back to the Vietnam War, the Philippines, and the post-1989 looting of Russia. Chin provides abundant sources and links - a timely exposé. - JAH]
Fraud probe of Maurice "Hank" Greenberg intensifies
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July 1, 2005 1300 PST (FTW) American International Group's Maurice "Hank" Greenberg is now the target of multiple investigations into the orchestration of sham transactions, the inflation of reserves, illegal stock trades, deception, and book-cooking.
In an April television interview, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer declared that his office had "powerful evidence" that AIG was "a black box run with an iron fist by a CEO who did not tell the public the truth". In May, Spitzer filed civil fraud charges against Greenberg, in a probe that has ensnared another Wall Street god, Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett. Buffett cooperated with the investigation as a witness (not a target). On June 9, 2005, two executives at General Re (a Berkshire Hathaway unit) pleaded guilty to conspiring to file false financial information. Spitzer is also pursuing Hank Greenberg's son, Jeffrey, in a separate investigation of bid-rigging at Marsh & McLennan (a top Bush campaign contributor). Jeffrey Greenberg quit as Marsh & McLennan's CEO in October 2004.
Super-elite Hank Greenberg - a legendary member of world planning groups (Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberger Group, the Trilateral Commission) and the Heritage Foundation, a former candidate for CIA director (1995), Bush family crony, and high-level functionary for all US presidents stretching back to Kennedy - remains supremely confident, and defiant. His net worth is still at least $3 billion. Greenberg has transferred hundreds of shares of stock to his wife and Greenberg family trusts. Greenberg is being defended by the high-powered attorney David Boies (of Bush v. Gore fame).
Many long-time critics of AIG are justifiably skeptical that the Spitzer case is anything more than another limited hangout - a "whiter shade of Enron" - that will permit Greenberg to skate. Although recent activity leaves the prospect of criminal charges open, Spitzer "reassured" Wall Street that criminal charges are not likely.
Besides questions about how aggressively Spitzer will pursue the evidence, there are conflicts involving Spitzer himself. According to the New York Post, Spitzer received $18,500 in campaign contributions from 16 attorneys from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where Spitzer once worked as an associate - and which currently represents AIG.
Where the real bodies are hidden
Although Greenberg resigned as CEO and chairman of the AIG board, Greenberg still manages Starr International (SICO) and C.V. Starr. SICO and C.V. Starr (which was already under fire for millions in diverted commissions and questionable executive pay) are AIG private holding companies that control billions in AIG stock. More importantly, the Starr companies constitute the conglomerate's original roots as an intelligence-related proprietary founded by OSS agent Cornelius Vander Starr.
In other words, Greenberg remains in charge of the (real) "baby."
C.V. Starr's involvements in US covert operations and Southeast Asian opium trafficking going back to World War II, and connections to legendary CIA/OSS figures (Paul Helliwell, Tommy Corcoran), and infamous CIA fronts (Civil Air Transport, Sea Supply, Air America/Pacific Corp) are exposed by Peter Dale Scott in his book Drugs, Oil, and War: The United States in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Indochina.
Building on Scott's research, Michael C. Ruppert's investigation "AIG" (From The Wilderness, August 14, 2001) exhaustively deconstructed Greenberg and AIG, exposing continuing connections to covert operations, narcotrafficking, money laundering, and AIG's central role in the Wall Street/Washington power nexus. In addition to explaining how "insurance" is used in intelligence operations, Ruppert tracked down then-AIG employee Coral Talavera, the wife of Medellin Cartel co-founder Carlos Lehder. The questions raised by Ruppert regarding AIG's connection to Lehder and millions in drug money (laundered between 1987-1992) remain unanswered, and the dark realities about the conglomerate, studiously ignored.
TIME magazine's June 20, 2005 profile of the irascible Greenberg, "Down But Not Out" is written like a tribute (evidenced by the title). Still, even this breezy piece confirms how Greenberg has functioned as a career agent and strongman, deeply involved in America's most important Eastern operations for decades, for anyone with a grasp of history:
In "Enron: Ultimate Agent of the American Empire", this writer penned the following:
"In portraying Enron as a 'scandal', and as an isolated case of overheated capitalism and 'unusual political influence', the American corporate media and congressional investigators are avoiding the truth: Enron, like many multinational corporations, has functioned as an operational arm of the US government, and as a weapon of economic, political and territorial hegemony.
"In a "free market world" in which the goals of the state, corporations and the national security apparatus are indistinguishable… and government and business elites, linked by longtime ties, move seamlessly between public and private sectors, the hydra that is Enron is nightmarishly uncontroversial - and quintessentially American."
AIG and Greenberg are equally powerful examples of this same milieu.
But as noted by Michel Chossudovsky (CovertAction Quarterly, Fall 1996), "Global crime has become an integral part of an economic system with far-reaching social, economic and geopolitical ramifications… the international community turns a blind eye until some scandal momentarily breaks through the gilded surface." At such a level, business is crime, and crime is business. The players operate right out in the open. Their ticker symbols fill business pages, and crawl across television screens every weekday morning. Their names, photos, and backgrounds are printed in glossy annual reports.
In a totalitarian Bush World in which the judicial system is irrevocably corrupted, crimes of global magnitude occur on a daily basis (and go unpunished), and the media functions as the Empire's handmaid, what is the likelihood that "almighty" Hank Greenberg - "our man in Asia" - will get his just due? Don't hold your breath.