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Giethner’s AIG Coverup

January 8, 2010

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An arm of the Federal Reserve, then led by now-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, told bailed-out insurance giant AIG to withhold key details from the public about overpayments that put billions of extra tax dollars in the coffers of major Wall Street firms, most notably Goldman Sachs.

The sordid tale unfolds in a series of e-mails between the company and the New York Fed obtained by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and first publicly disclosed by Bloomberg News.

The matter is the subject of an “ongoing review” by the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), communications director Kristine Belisle said in an e-mail to the Huffington Post. SIGTARP is headed by Neil M. Barofsky, a former federal prosecutor.

Taxpayers have committed about $182 billion to AIG. The under-regulated firm developed and sold complicated derivatives products without having adequate capital in place if those bets went bad, which they eventually did. The firm nearly single-handedly wrecked the entire financial system.

After the firm was given a taxpayer-funded backstop, one of its most controversial acts was to repay banks at 100 cents on the dollar for what was by that point nearly worthless insurance the banks had bought from AIG, known as credit-default swaps.

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