The pit boss of the AIG Financial Products casino, Joseph Cassano, lives in London with his millions in bonuses, awaiting that eventual knock on the door from UK police, who will hand him over to American authorities for trial.
In the meantime, says the Times of London, he’s grown out a beard and rides a 10-speed, with a red helmet, in what we imagine must be an incredibly uneasy luxury retirement.
In addition to the bits of Cassano trivia, the paper takes a too-long-to-excerpt look at the history of AIG (AIG), and slowly hints at the idea that Cassano is really a fall guy.
Long before AIG got into the credit defaults swaps business, there were problems. There were ongoing legal problems brought on by financial products designed to help counterparties hide losses. In 2001, when independent analysts working for The Economist magazine questioned the company’s rich valuation, they were met with legal threats from the company. When AIG’s stock would flag, former CEO Hank Greenberg would (ludicrously) yell at the NYSE, threatening to move to the NASDAQ. That’s perhaps the most Enron-esque detail of them all.
In other words, rather than a healthy insurance business with a crazy hedge fund bolted on — which is what everyone, including Obama and Geithner have said — AIG was always looking for the next scam to keep it growing, and CDS was the last in a long chain.
Seen from this lens, it would appear that Cassano was just the guy running the show when it all came down, rather than the lone jackal, who would’ve never been unleashed had it not been for Spitzer canning Hank Greenberg — as Hank Greenberg would have you believe.
But, screw nuance. We don’t think this will help Cassano much once the authorities decide they have enough to go on (and they will).