AIG Paying Bonuses To Unit That Helped Trigger Crisis


It’s hard to blame people for tuning out the periodic reports of bailed out financial firms still paying huge bonuses to their staff. After all, there’s only so much outrage a person can summon over the long haul.

But here’s one that’s worth a fresh round: AIG, the bailed-out insurance behemoth whose lavish “retention payments” triggered the first round of fury last year, plans more payments this month, worth $100 million, reports the Washington Post. And this week, the employees scheduled to cash in are from the firm’s financial products division. That’s the unit whose dodgy credit default swaps triggered the billion dollar losses that led to the financial crisis, and subsequent bailout, in the first place.In fact, those employees will get their payouts more than a month early, because they agreed to accept 10 to 20 percent less money than they were originally promised two years ago.

One employee told the Post that “current employees stepped up” by agreeing to reduced payments, in order to put the issue behind them.

And an AIG spokesman told the paper:

We are greatly appreciative that virtually all — some 97 percent — of active FP employees have volunteered to reduce their upcoming 2010 payment to help achieve our giveback target. We have decided to begin these reduced payments to these active employees as well as those non-active employees who agreed to reductions. The reductions from these two groups stand at about $20 million, and we believe this allows us to largely put this matter behind us.

As we’ve reported, federal investigators are currently probing whether Joseph Cassano, who helmed the division at the time, deliberately misled investors in telling them about the firm’s process for valuing the swaps.

AIG has received about $180 billion all told from U.S. taxpayers.