Five defendants convicted last year of engaging in a scam to inflate AIG's loss reserves have filed papers asking the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn their convictions. To increase their chances, three of them have shaken up their legal teams by adding Am Law 200 lawyers with sterling appellate resumes.
To review: One ex-AIG employee and four top execs at General Re, an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway, were convicted of participating in a sham reinsurance transaction that prosecutors claim cost shareholders as much as $500 million, according to the Associated Press.
The deal, which prosecutors say the defendants struck in secret in 2001, was designed to inflate AIG's loss reserves by $500 million. In reality, AIG was paying General Re $5 million to participate in the transaction, prosecutors said.
The defendants' lawyers are asking the 2nd Circuit to toss out the convictions on several grounds, including claims that the trial judge admitted hearsay evidence and gave improper jury instructions. The lineup of lawyers in the case has changed considerably. Christian Milton, a former executive vice president at AIG, has retained Williams & Connolly partner Kannon Shanmugam to lead his appeal. (Hafetz & Necheles represented Milton at trial and remains involved).
As we've written before, Shanmugam has made regular appearances in federal appellate courts for years, having argued eight cases before the U.S. Supreme Court during his time at the Office of the U.S. Solicitor General.
The man who used to head that office, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner Seth Waxman, will take the lead in the appeal of Ronald Ferguson, the ex-CEO of Gen Re who was sentenced to two years in prison for his role in the alleged scam.
Clifford Schoenberg, who moved from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft to Mayer Brown earlier this year, served as Ferguson's lead attorney in the criminal case. He declined to comment on his role in the appeal.
Ira Feinberg of Hogan & Hartson is heading the appeal for Elizabeth Monrad, the former chief financial officer at Gen Re who was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Steptoe & Johnson partner Reid Weingarten, who led Monrad's defense at trial, will remain involved in the appeal, Feinberg says.
Proskauer Rose has retained its role as lead counsel to Christopher Garand, a former senior vice president at Gen Re sentenced to 366 days in prison. Partner Robert Cleary is listed as Garand's lead counsel.
Covington & Burling partner Alan Vinegard will also keep his role as lead counsel to Robert Graham, a former assistant general counsel at Gen Re who received the same 366-day sentence as Garand, court records show.
This article first appeared on The Am Law Daily blog on AmericanLawyer.com.