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More to AIG Bailout Than Public Knows: Hank Greenberg

Former AIG Chairman and CEO Hank Greenberg said the public doesn't know everything about what went down with the bailout of the insurance giant and he stands by his lawsuit against the government.

"In this country the government has the right to nationalize any company, but you have to pay for it. You can't simply take somebody's assets," Greenberg told CNBC's "Closing Bell."

AIG declined to join Greenberg's lawsuit. Current AIG CEO Robert Benmosche responded to the lawsuit against the government on CNBC January 9th saying, "A deal is a deal. We have to move forward."

Greenberg responded to Benmosche on Tuesday saying, "Ask him why he is suing the Federal Reserve Bank of New York using Maiden Lane II." Maiden Lane II is a special vehicle created by the NY Fed during AIG's 2008 bailout.

Now the Chairman & CEO of C.V.Starr & Company, Greenberg says he intends to win the lawsuit even if it takes 5 to 10 years.

"I'm busy building a company. I wouldn't do this if I didn't think I would win," said Greenberg, who co-authored the new tell-all book "The AIG Story" with Lawrence Cunningham.

"The AIG Story"

"The facts were not known. It took us years to get all the facts. There is a big difference between what's been publicly acknowledged and what's in the book," he said.

Greenberg, who led AIG for nearly 40 years until 2005, told CNBC he tried unsuccessfully to reach out to regulators, like then Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, with warnings he thought they were making a mistake with company's bailout.

"AIG had a liquidity issue, not a solvency issue," Greenberg said.

In 2008, the U.S. government lent AIG $85 billion at 14.5 percent interest. AIG finished repaying the loans on December 11th, 2012. The U.S. government profited $22.7 billion.

By - CNBC's Shannan Siemens. Follow her on Twitter @ShannanSiemens

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  • With almost 30 years experience in business television, Bill Griffeth is co-anchor of the 3 p.m. ET hour of CNBC's "Closing Bell."

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    Kelly Evans is co-anchor of CNBC's "Closing Bell."