Geithner Feuds With Greenberg Over Book in AIG Bailout Suit

Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner joined the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in declining to give drafts of a book he’s writing to Maurice “Hank” Greenberg for a lawsuit challenging the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc.

Greenberg is seeking book material, interview transcripts and other documents that are irrelevant to his $25 billion class-action suit, Geithner said in a filing today in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington.

Greenberg, 88, the former chairman and chief executive officer of New York-based AIG, claims the September 2008 assumption of 80 percent of the insurer’s stock by the New York Fed, which Geithner headed at the time, violated shareholders’ rights to due process and equal protection of the law.

“Mr. Geithner’s importance is not a reason for compelling the production of hundreds of pages of non-responsive materials that he privately generated as raw materials for the purpose of organizing his thoughts before writing his book,” his lawyers wrote in the filing.

Greenberg, who headed AIG until 2005, filed suit through his closely held Starr International Co., a shareholder in the insurer.

Geithner’s book and other documents are needed because his statements “could not be fully understood absent the appropriate context, which had been redacted or withheld for purposes of non-responsiveness,” David Boies, a lawyer for Starr International, wrote in the company’s portion of the filing, a joint status report on the case to Judge Thomas Wheeler.

Interview Transcripts

Disputed items include interview transcripts and drafts shared between Geithner, 52, and journalists Michael Grunwald and Charlie Anderson, who are helping write the book, as well as documents the U.S. Treasury Department gave Geithner when he was president of the New York Fed.

Some of the book material involves Grunwald and Anderson’s interviews of Geithner, which would be inappropriate for disclosure, wrote John Kiernan of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP., who is representing the New York Fed and Geithner.

In those sesssion, Geithner “talked in free association about a wide variety of subjects, and has spoken about people and events with a degree of informality and looseness of language that was not contemplated for a broader audience and that he would not use without scrupulous refinement of language in any document intended for public consumption,” they wrote.

Geithner, who is not a party to the case, was deposed on Sept. 19, according to the filing.

Privileged Information

In its portion of the status report, the New York Fed said that the withheld information is protected by attorney-client privilege.

An appeals court yesterday reversed a ruling by Wheeler and blocked Greenberg’s bid to force Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to sit for a deposition.

The effort to question Bernanke appeared to be “a fishing expedition rather than an effort to establish legally material facts,” Circuit Judge Timothy Dyk wrote in the ruling.

The case is Starr International Co. v. U.S., 11-cv-00779, U.S. Court of Federal Claims (Washington).

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