Investigators are starting to zero in on the crucial issue of how much access AIG’s risk control team had to Joe Cassano’s deals.
Earlier this week, we wrote about a December 2007 presentation in which AIG execs assured investors that the firm’s risk control officers looked closely at the credit default swaps made by Cassano’s financial products unit. But as we noted, those assurances were contradicted last month by AIG CEO Ed Liddy, who told Congress that Cassano limited the access of the risk control team to his unit. And there’s additional evidence (sub. req.) supporting Liddy’s claim.
And now it looks like one Democratic lawmaker is picking up on that same discrepancy.
Rep. Gary Peters of Michigan — who at that hearing of the House Financial Services committee questioned Liddy about the role of the firm’s risk control offciers — has sent a letter to the AIG chief, obtained by TPMmuckraker, that lays out the contradiction between the public comments at the 2007 presentation and what Liddy said in his testimony.
It then asks Liddy a series of questions designed to probe the issue, for instance:
Did the Credit Risk Committee have authority to review the activities of the Financial Products Unit or give approval to credit default swaps entered into by members of the Financial Products unit?
In your testimony, you state that AIG executives responsible for risk management were not allowed to investigate the activities of the Financial Products unit. If those executives had reason to believe that there were problems with the activities of the Financial Products unit, what action should they have taken to protect AIG’s shareholders from potential losses? Were those actions taken, and if not why not?
Peters asks Liddy to respond by April 24th.
As we told you earlier this week, then-AIG CEO Martin Sullivan, Chief Risk Officer Robert Lewis, Credit Credit Officer Kevin McGinn, and Cassano himself, all vouched for AIG’s robust risk-control practices at the December 2007 presentation. As Peters’ letter notes, McGinn even said that the Credit Risk Committee, which he chaired, was “really involved” in looking specifically at credit default swaps.
Peters’ effort may not be the only chance to get answers from Liddy on this. The AIG chief is likely to testify before Congress again, this time before the House Oversight committee, probably later this month or next.
Of course, there’s also evidence that Cassano blocked the firm’s internal accountant, as well as its outside auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers, from having full access to his unit’s books.