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Former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg sues Eliot Spitzer for defamation

Hank Greenberg
Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Hank Greenberg

Everyone wondered how long it would take for Wall Street to jump into the ring once they found out former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was running for public office again. Well, now we know the answer: Just a few days.

Former AIG CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, who has sparred with Spitzer for years since Spitzer accused him of fraud to juice AIG's results, is suing Spitzer for defamation.

Spitzer, formerly known as the "Sheriff of Wall Street" for aggressively pursuing financial misdeeds of Wall Street while he was New York Attorney General, announced earlier this week that he is running for New York City comptroller, five years after he resigned in disgrace as governor amid a prostitution scandal.

On Friday, Greenberg filed the suit, which alleges that Spitzer made defamatory statements against him between 2004 and 2012.

It cites a May 21, 2012 interview Spitzer did with the New York Law Journal, in which he said Greenberg and other executives have "run the company in a corrupt way" and "were running a corrupt company."

Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is mobbed by reporters while attempting to collect signatures to run for comptroller of New York City.
Getty Images
Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is mobbed by reporters while attempting to collect signatures to run for comptroller of New York City.

It also cites a July 13, 2012 interview with Maria Bartiromo on CNBC's "Closing Bell" in which Spitzer said "Hank Greenberg's accounting was fraudulent."

Furthermore, the suit says, these comments by Spitzer "are part of a long-standing malicious campaign by Mr. Spitzer ... to discredit Mr. Greenberg and damage Mr. Greenberg's reputation and career, while attempting to bolster Mr. Spitzer's own reputation and career."

The suit was filed in Putnam County, where Greenberg resides. Under "factual allegations," it states that "Mr. Greenberg has lived an exemplary life and enjoyed a good reputation in this community" and that he is "widely recognized as one of the greatest American business leaders of the 20th century."

In an interview with CNBC earlier this week, Spitzer said he thinks that primary voters will look at "the totality of my career" as opposed to the scandal that pushed him out of elective office.

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