In an exclusive CNBC interview
yesterday, former New York Attorney General Dennis Vacco dropped a bombshell on his disgraced successor Eliot Spitzer that raises new questions about the lingering charges Mr. Spitzer lodged against former AIG chief Maurice “Hank” Greenberg nearly eight years ago.
On September 28, 2004, before any official investigation against AIG or Mr. Greenberg had even been publicly launched, Mr. Vacco says he was in the room when Mr. Spitzer went on a curse-filled, fist-pounding rant against Mr. Greenberg that led him to believe Spitzer’s targeting of Greenberg was inspired more by a personal vendetta than any serious wrongdoing.
“It was a rather startling personal attack that I was really quite surprised by,” said Mr. Vacco. “His tirade was much more personal in nature. It left me with an uneasy feeling that there was some personal animus that was driving him.”
Asked why he was only now coming forward with the new information, Mr. Vacco explained that when he read press reports that “there is a treasure trove of personal emails” from Mr. Spitzer that may prove he possessed a personal motive for going after Mr. Greenberg, he felt compelled to go public.
“I’m now motivated about my concern over these emails and I don’t think we ought to have government officials who are prosecutors and law enforcement officials being able to conduct business in a shadowy fashion,” said Mr. Vacco. “I believe if these charges were unfounded and politically motivated and now you add to it that there might have been some shadowy e-mail accounts that helped advance the investigation during the investigation, I think that is inappropriate.”
Mr. Greenberg’s attorney, David Boies, expressed serious concern over the new revelation:
These are obviously very disturbing charges. Over the last seven years, almost all of the claims originally brought by the Attorney General against Mr. Greenberg have been dismissed. We have always believed that the two remaining technical accounting issues, neither of which affected AIG's reported net income or shareholders equity, will also ultimately be dismissed. If these claims were brought with knowledge that they were without merit for the purpose of retaliating against a political critic, this was an even greater miscarriage of justice and abuse of the legal system.
Will the court order the release of Mr. Spitzer’s personal emails and the potentially embarrassing contents they may contain?
Photo credit: Azi Paybarah