WASHINGTON BUREAU — Maurice Greenberg, former chairman of American International Group Inc., has agreed to pay $15 million to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges that he made AIG’s finances look artificially strong.
The SEC has accused Greenberg of misstating earnings while he headed AIG, New York.
Greenberg, who built AIG into the world’s largest insurance company before he stepped down in 2005, agreed to pay $7.5 million in penalties and $7.5 million in disgorgement, SEC officials say.
Howard Smith, who was chief financial officer of AIG from 2000 to 2005, has agreed to pay penalties and disgorgement fees totaling $1.5 million to settle SEC charges relating to the same alleged accounting irregularities, officials say.
Smith’s settlement prohibits him from acting as an officer or director of any public company for 3 years. Smith also consented to the entry of an SEC order that will suspend him for 5 years from appearing or practicing before the SEC as an accountant, the SEC says.
Greenberg and Smith have neither admitted nor denied the SEC allegations.
The charges and settlement were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The SEC has alleged that Greenberg. Smith were responsible for “material misstatements” that enabled AIG to create the false impression that the company was consistently meeting earnings and growth targets.
Greenberg “publicly described AIG as the leader in the insurance and financial services industry with a history of delivering consistent double-digit growth,” the SEC alleges in its complaint.
“However, AIG faced numerous financial challenges under Greenberg’s leadership that were disguised through improper accounting,” the SEC alleges.
The SEC says Greenberg and Smith are liable as control persons for AIG’s violations of antifraud law provisions and other securities law provisions.
Smith also was charged with direct violations of the antifraud law provisions and other securities law provisions.
The SEC says the accounting irregularities included: