The former executive of insurer American International Group Inc. is writing to dozens of friends and associates asking permission to use their names in a public-relations campaign to rehabilitate his image, according to The Wall Street Journal, whose parent company's CEO also received a request for assistance.
Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, 80, has been under fire since his March ouster over alleged improper accounting practices during his long tenure at the world's largest insurer. The federal and state investigations pitted Greenberg against his former company over how AIG reported its financial results.
The letter, written by Vincent Tese, an outside director of Bear Stearns Cos. and a former New York state director of economic development, says the campaign would include advertisements or articles in newspapers and magazines, and other unspecified events honoring Greenberg, the newspaper reported Saturday in its Weekend Edition.
The letter's 51 recipients include chief executives Henry Paulson of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., John Mack of Morgan Stanley and William Harrison of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Other recipients include Citigroup Inc. executive Robert Rubin, a former Treasury secretary, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former president of the World Bank James Wolfensohn and talk-show host Charlie Rose.
Kissinger couldn't be reached for comment. None of the others, when contacted either directly or through representatives, would say if they would allow use of their name, the Journal reported.
Peter Kann, chief executive of Dow Jones & Co., which owns The Wall Street Journal, received a letter. Kann said in a letter to Tese that it wouldn't be "appropriate" for him to be listed as a supporter because doing so might be seen as taking sides in a dispute the paper must cover in an unbiased fashion, a Dow Jones spokeswoman said.
A number of recipients wouldn't say, when contacted directly or through representatives, whether they plan to participate, and a few individuals said they were not sure they had received the letter yet.
A few individuals have declined to participate, according to a person familiar with the plans of some of the letter's recipients, the newspaper reported.
The image-restoration campaign also might include academic events at which Greenberg could be given honorary educational degrees as a means to discuss his career and philanthropic letters, said former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.