Robert Benmosche, the new CEO of AIG, tells us he regrets tough comments he made about New York’s attorney general, explaining that he was trying to bolster a demoralized AIG work force. “You can characterize me as a goon or you can characterize me as somebody who is attempting to deal with a complex issue of a very demoralized employee force and said those things to them in confidence to reassure them that they no longer have to be afraid that they are going to be attacked again,” Benmosche told Adam Tanner in an interview.
During a closed-door staff meeting in Houston, Texas, last month, Benmosche said New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo “doesn’t deserve to be in government” and had acted like a “criminal.” Cuomo’s office declined to comment on the matter.
Given the poisoned chalice the stewardship of AIG has been for his predecessors, Benmosche may be taking the only tack available. The former CEO of MetLife and native New Yorker, who prides himself on a reputation for toughness, did try to couch his comments somewhat, saying from his Croatian villa that “one should not assume that my aggressiveness is disrespect.”
While the New York AG or another, higher official might not call for his head, it’s hard to imagine such insults being tolerated for very long.