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AIG Chief Risk Officer Robert Lewis to Retire

American International Group's chief risk officer, Robert Lewis, is retiring after overseeing the troubled insurer's risk management functions for more than six years, Chief Executive Robert Benmosche said in an internal memo on Tuesday.

Robert E. Lewis, Senior Vice President and Chief Risk Officer, American International Group(center), being sworn in during a Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
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Robert E. Lewis, Senior Vice President and Chief Risk Officer, American International Group(center), being sworn in during a Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Lewis, a 17-year AIG veteran, took the role of chief risk officer in July 2004, and saw the giant insurer brought to the brink of collapse as the risk taken on by its Financial Products unit proved unmanageable.

AIG had to be bailed out in September 2008 by U.S. taxpayers, with a rescue package that eventually swelled to $182.3 billion.

Lewis will stay at AIG to ensure a smooth transition, Benmosche said, adding that AIG expects to name his successor soon.

At a Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission hearing this summer, Lewis said he believed that collateralized debt obligations in loan portfolios linked to credit default swaps were relatively conservative and could have recovered with time.

Lewis said at the hearing that the deteriorating financial environment triggered collateral calls that depleted AIG's liquidity and the federal government stepped in.

"What ended up happening was so extreme that it was beyond anything we had planned for," he told the crisis panel. "As it turned out, we were wrong about how bad things could get."

In February this year, AIG brought on Peter Hancock, a former KeyCorp vice chairman and financial services veteran, to oversee finance, risk and investments.

AIG shares closed higher at $39.94 on Tuesday, but inched lower in after hours trading. Get extended hours quotes here.