Just in case you were under the naïve impression that the folks over at AIG give a damn (or are even a little grateful for the taxpayer lifepreserver that’s still keeping them afloat), this news today at washingtonpost.com:
When word spread earlier this year that American International Group had paid more than $165 million in retention bonuses at the division that had precipitated the company's downfall, outrage erupted, with employees getting death threats and President Obama urging that every legal avenue be pursued to block the payments.
New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo threatened to publicize the recipients' names, prompting executives at AIG Financial Products to hastily agree to return about $45 million in bonuses by the end of the year.
But as the final days of 2009 tick away, a majority of that money remains unpaid. Only about $19 million has been given back, according to a report by the special inspector general for the government's bailout program.
This was millions in bonuses to the very unit that brought the company, and a good portion of the nation’s economy, to its knees. The $45 million they promised to return was hardly enough, considering the other $120 million out the door. But it was AIG's attempt to diffuse the situation. (Read our call to have the FBI investigate the whole $165 million.) Now we find out their fingers were crossed and a measly $19 million was repaid.
The lack of returns comes to light as the company gets set to pay out another multi-million dollar round of bonuses, to the same executives.
Everyone is keenly aware that another round of retention payments at
Financial Products is due soon, threatening to draw public attention to
the issue once again. AIG is scheduled to pay out an additional $198
million to employees in March.
My computer dictionary defines bonus as 1) an extra unexpected advantage, 2) an amount of money given in addition to normal pay, especially as a reward. But even setting aside the issue of whether these specific AIG employees earned their rewards, this is no ordinary company. We, the people, own 80% of AIG. That means these executives work for us. And even government workers who don't drive the nation's economy into the dirt don’t get million-dollar bonuses.
It's time to cut loose any AIG execs that continue to demand bonuses that offend reality. Lots of people are out of work. AIG can be Obama's new jobs plan.