Monday, August 10, 2009

AIG and Greenberg

Hank Greenberg at one point was considered a genius taking a small AIG founded by an American entrepreneur, C.V. Starr in 1919 and his Shanghai partner to become the largest global insurance company in the world. Not much is ever said about the Shanghai banker who helped Starr to build his business. Corporate mythology could only allow one hero. Chinese back in those days were considered lesser being.

Surprise. Greenberg turned out to be a crook. Strong word. Well, what do you call a person who produced false accounting numbers to hide the truth? Read Here.

I have a real problem with this story. This guy who made off billions from inflated share prices based on fake company earnings number between 2000-2005 he knew were false only paid $15 million for a fine to get off a suit that could put him behind bars for years? Isn't that a steal? How did he manage? Were those years the only years he faked his numbers?

Without trying to be a conspiracy nut, remember a lot of pubic bailout money sent over to AIG actually went to Goldman Sachs to settle a payable? And a lot more went to settle payables with other banks including an European bank?

Why did the money go straight out of AIG's door to other coffers? Wasn't the money meant only for AIG?

Elementary. Wall Street works on connections and relationships. In Chinese lexicon, that is known as "guanxi" a word at one time was derogatory intended to show how corrupt the Chinese communism was and still is on the mainland.

Greenberg is not just another crook. He is a well connected crook. Madoff, the crook, is behind bars. He is not well connected. $15 million to buy off a jail sentence? That's small change by Wall Street standards and by what Greenberg had made off from inflated share prices that also boosted his stock options, bonuses and other compensations. So much for American justice.

No comments: