Last month, as we noted at the time, House Oversight committee chair Ed Towns formally asked the Justice Department for records kept by a government monitor, who since 2004 has had access to high-level internal deliberations at AIG.
But DOJ seems to be dragging its heels.
Today — 15 days after Towns made his legally binding request, and 13 days after the deadline he set for Justice to respond — department spokesman Ian McCaleb told TPMmuckraker: “We’re working on submitting a response.” Asked what was causing the hold up, McCaleb declined to elaborate.
At issue is information compiled by James Cole, a lawyer with Bryan Cave, who was placed as a government monitor inside AIG, as part of a 2004 deferred prosecution agreement after AIG had been charged with helping clients avoid taxes. As Towns put it in his letter, Cole “had a seat at the table” for the string of cataclysmic developments at AIG over the last few years. Whatever reports or other information he compiled could therefore be of great value to investigators, like Towns, who are probing the causes of last fall’s financial collapse, which was triggered by the failure of AIG’s Financial Products unit.
DOJ may have legitimate concerns about allowing Cole’s information to be made public. The department is reportedly conducting a criminal investigation into AIG, focused on whether financial products unit chief Joseph Cassano, and other company execs, misled investors as to AIG’s exposure to sub-prime losses. But so far, it hasn’t cited that probe as a reason for its failure to comply with Congress’s request. Though it also hasn’t publicly confirmed the existence of the criminal investigation, so it may feel its hands are tied.
In any case, we’ll keep pressing DOJ for a response…