Towns, whose committee is looking into AIG's role in the financial collapse, first asked for the documents soon after their existence was revealed late last month. Since then, as we've reported, DOJ has been dragging its heels on the request. The SEC had appeared more cooperative, but yesterday's letter makes clear that it, too, hasn't yet complied with the request.
In 2004, AIG was charged with unlawfully helping a client, PNC Financial, to evade taxes. As part of a deferred prosecution agreement, it paid an $80 million fine, and agreed to have a government monitor, with high-level access, placed inside the company. It's the information compiled by that monitor -- James Cole, a lawyer with the firm Bryan Cave -- that's at issue.
In the letters, Towns and Issa write:
With the taxpayers now having an eighty percent stake in AIG, we believe that review of these reports is critical for Congress to better understand how AIG became financially crippled and in assessing whether taxpayer's investment is being adequately protected.
...[F]ailure to comply with the Committee's request for the Cole reports raises the prospect that we will be forced to consider compulsory means to achieve compliance.
In other words: hand it over or we'll subpoena it.
It's still unclear why Justice and SEC are unwilling to provide the information. But what is clear is that this saga isn't over.
* This sentence has been corrected from an earlier version.