By David Lawder and Glenn Somerville
WASHINGTON, Jan 26 (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner denied any role in disclosures about American International Group’s payments to banks and defended his decisions as New York Federal Reserve chief to pay full price to retire AIG credit default swaps.
Geithner, in prepared testimony for a much-anticipated congressional hearing on Wednesday, said protracted demands for concessions from banks in late 2008 could have triggered devastating credit rating downgrades and brought AIG down, with “catastrophic” consequences for the U.S. economy.
Geithner’s testimony is widely seen as important for his future as Treasury chief. He has denied acting in the interests of specific institutions.
“I had no role in making decisions regarding what to disclose about the specific financial terms of Maiden Lane II and Maiden Lane III and payments to AIG counterparties,” Geithner said, referring to Fed investment vehicles that bought securities from the banks. The remarks were made available late on Tueday.
Geithner, who ran the New York Fed at the time of the bailout, faces a grilling by the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is reexamining AIG’s <AIG.N> payment of $62.1 billion to bank counterparties to close out trades made before and after the insurer was rescued.