American International Group Inc. must give former Chief Executive Officer Maurice R. Greenberg and former Chief Financial Officer Howard I. Smith access to AIG legal documents in their defense against fraud charges brought by the New York attorney general, an intermediate New York appeals court has ruled.
Overturning a lower court decision that AIG could withhold the documents as privileged, a unanimous five-judge panel of the Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court ruled that the two former AIG executives are entitled to the legal memoranda, which include some related to AIG’s allegedly fraudulent 2000 loss portfolio reinsurance deal with General Re Corp.
Yesterday’s appeals ruling stems from then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s 2005 lawsuit charging Messrs. Greenberg and Smith with fraud related to the Gen Re deal and other allegedly sham transactions designed to manipulate AIG’s financial statements. AIG itself was originally a defendant, but settled with regulators in 2006, paying $1.6 billion.
Messrs. Greenberg and Smith have argued in part that they relied on the advice of legal counsel in the transactions cited in the attorney general’s lawsuit, and have sought copies of all legal memoranda related to the transactions prepared at the time they were AIG officers.
AIG refused to turn over the documents, and a New York judge ruled that they were protected by AIG’s attorney-client privilege.
The Appellate Division panel reversed that ruling, though, finding that the two former executives have a qualified right to inspect the memoranda.