In the financial trial of the century, the most important document is missing. The document is the term sheet that the government says it gave AIG’s board right before taking the company over in Sept. 2008. The government says the AIG board thus approved the Draconian terms that benefited Goldman Sachs and other rivals. But other evidence, including AIG’s contemporaneous securities filings, suggests the board was agreeing only to sell the government warrants not transfer 80% of the common stock to it for a song. The missing document would prove which side is telling the truth.
That’s one of many amazing points of contention noted by Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism in her relentless digging into what government really did during the financial crisis. Most recently, she alleges and documents perjury and obstruction of justice by top federal officials in the pending case of former AIG shareholders against the US. The case alleges that the government trampled on corporate law rights and that the Fed exceeded its authority—allegations that I document in my book, The AIG Story, written with Hank Greenberg, lead plaintiff in the case.
Smith lays out her claims in an extensive blog post at Naked Capitalism, accompanied by reams of additional documents and examples. For those looking for a skinny version, here is an abridged adaptation. Most examples concern Scott Alvarez, general counsel of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve; there is one with with Tom Baxter, general counsel of the New York Fed, who worked with Tim Geithner. The shareholders are represented by the noted trial lawyer, David Boies. The point about the term sheet is at the end.
Boies: Would you agree as a general proposition that the market generally considers investment-grade debt securities safer than non-investment-grade debt securities?
Alvarez: I don’t know.
Boies: [Presents a copy of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report stating that the Fed had lowered the standards it applied for the quality of collateral for its loans under two programs then devised to support lending and asks] Do you see that?
Alvarez: I see that. . .
Boies: . . . [W]ould you agree that the Federal Reserve had lowered its standards regarding the quality of the collateral that investment banks and other primary dealers could use while borrowing. . . ?
Boies: You would not agree with that?
Example 3 Read More