Thanks to intrepid New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, we now find
out that AIG paid $1 million "retention" bonuses to 73 employees whose
dismal performance brought the company down – including 11 people who
have already left, rendering the retention issue moot. In a letter Tuesday to Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass), chairman of
the House Financial Services Committee, Cuomo said the so-called retention payments, ostensibly intended to keep all those talented people at AIG, were made to members of AIG's Financial Products subsidiary, which was "principally
responsible for the firm's meltdown."
"Thus, last week, AIG made more than 73 millionaires in the unit which
lost so much money that it brought the firm to its knees, forcing a
taxpayer bailout," he wrote. "Something is
deeply wrong with this outcome."
Meanwhile, Majority Leader Harry Reid
(D-NV) and 11 other senators fired off their own indignant letter to AIG CEO Edward Liddy, warning they would pass legislation reclaiming the bonuses if AIG doesn't give back the money. They blasted the "hubris" of "a company that would not exist anymore but for a $170 billion
taxpayer funded rescue" – and which then turned around and used those funds to "reward the most extreme failure."
perilous economic times, it is unconscionable for the American taxpayer
to find out that the very employees responsible for running the company
into the ground have now received "performance-based" awards that are
hundreds of times as large as the average American's yearly salary," the letter said. "...It is simply morally unacceptable to spend $165
million on bonus payments.... rewarding the employees that helped
fuel the nation's financial crisis."