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Greenberg defender accuses Spitzer of making threats

Ex-Goldman chief wrote op-ed piece

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Reuters / December 23, 2005

NEW YORK -- Former Goldman Sachs chairman John Whitehead yesterday said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer threatened him during an April phone call for writing an opinion piece critical of Spitzer's attacks against prominent insurance executive Maurice ''Hank" Greenberg.

Through a spokesman, Spitzer denied he made threats, disputed Whitehead's version of the exchange, and said Greenberg, who resigned as chief executive of American International Group Inc., put Whitehead up to writing the op-ed piece.

In a second Wall Street Journal op-ed piece yesterday Whitehead, currently chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., said Spitzer threatened him.

''Mr. Whitehead, it's now a war between us and you've fired the first shot," Whitehead quoted Spitzer as angrily stating.

''I will be coming after you. You will pay the price. This is only the beginning and you will pay dearly for what you have done. You will wish you had never written that letter," Whitehead said Spitzer said.

But Darren Dopp, a Spitzer spokesman, said, ''This account is not accurate. It is embellished and false. [Whitehead] is simply not telling the truth." Dopp also said Greenberg asked Whitehead to write a letter attacking the attorney general.

Whitehead could not be reached for comment. Howard Opinsky, a spokesman for Greenberg, said Whitehead wasn't pushed into writing the op-ed by anyone.

Spitzer launched a sweeping investigation in 2004 that first targeted insurance brokerage Marsh & McLennan on charges of bid-rigging.

Spitzer initially named AIG as a party to some Marsh deals, but the firm quickly took center stage as the investigation focused on questionable reinsurance transactions and accounting moves.

''The evidence is overwhelming that these were transactions created for the purpose of deceiving the market," Spitzer said in a nationally televised interview. ''We call that fraud. It is deceptive. It is wrong. It is illegal."

Spitzer's office filed a civil lawsuit against AIG on May 26. A trial has not been scheduled as settlement talks continue. AIG is also under investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department.

Greenberg has argued AIG did nothing wrong and that the board caved in to Spitzer's demands.

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