AIG Turns Over Bonus Names to N.Y. AG Cuomo

By | March 20, 2009

American International Group Inc. turned over details on Thursday of bonus recipients in an investigation by New York’s top legal officer, who promised to be sensitive to the company’s concerns for the security of its employees.

“The Attorney General’s Office will responsibly balance the public’s right to know how their tax dollars are spent with individual security, privacy rights, and corporate prerogative,” New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in a statement after the insurance company complied with a subpoena.

AIG Chief Executive Edward Liddy told a congressional committee on Wednesday that some executives had received death threats as public outrage grew over multi-million dollar bonuses within companies that had received taxpayer money to stay afloat.

“At this moment, with emotions running high, it is important that we proceed diligently, with care, reflection, and sober judgment,” said Cuomo, who had set a deadline of the close of business on Thursday for AIG to provide names and details of bonuses paid to members of its Financial Products division.

For months, Cuomo has been pressing for details on compensation paid to executives at several banks and companies that received U.S. government bailout funds.

Cuomo’s investigation is intended to determine if companies broke securities laws by not disclosing certain information, such as the awarding of bonuses. Executives at AIG received $165 million in bonuses at the weekend.

Cuomo said on Thursday that his office would work with AIG in coming days to determine which employees received the payments and who had returned them. Liddy said in his testimony on Wednesday that some bonus recipients had already agreed to return the payments in full.

AIG said it was pleased to resolve the issue of divulging the names of the recipients with Cuomo’s office.

“We are confident that the Attorney General will thoroughly weigh the safety risks before disclosing any employee’s name, and we look forward to continuing to work with him on these issues in a cooperative and constructive manner,” the company said in a statement.

Cuomo released details of his AIG probe earlier this week, saying 73 AIG employees had received bonuses of $1 million or more in 2008, even as the insurer was being supported by some $180 billion in taxpayer bailout money.

Cuomo told reporters on a conference call earlier on Thursday that in accordance with a state court ruling published on Wednesday, he expects Bank of America Corp to hand over the names of the 200 highest bonus earners in 2008 at Merrill Lynch & Co. The bank has said it would comply with the ruling.

At Merrill, bonuses totaling $3.6 billion were paid just before the company was bought by Bank of America on Jan. 1.

(Reporting by Grant McCool; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

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