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Internal documents also showed that AIG’s auditor, PricewaterhouseCooper, reported similar problems, Mr. Waxman said.

“AIG executives should have been smarter, but they weren’t,” said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, the ranking Republican on the committee. “They should have seen the warning signs, but they didn’t. They should have questioned the exotic products and the agencies that rated them as AAA, but they didn’t.”

Mr. Sullivan, who was at AIG for more than 30 years, said it was “unintended consequences” - not corporate maleficence - that led to a “dominolike series of repercussions” to its eventual collapse.

Mr. Willumstad added that financial rating agencies initially had agreed to wait to review AIG’s ratings until he was scheduled to release a strategic plan of the company Sept. 25. But when Lehman Brothers and other financial giants began to falter in early September, the rating agencies said they no longer would wait and then downgraded AIG’s holdings, leading to company’s financial downward spiral.