Names! Barney Frank Wants Names of AIG Bonus Recipients
March 18, 2009Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, says he wants a list of all AIG employees who received retention bonuses, and he'll use subpoena power, if necessary, to get them.
The firm has received $170 billion in taxpayer-funded bailouts, and it is under fire for the $220 million in retention bonuses paid to employees in its financial products division. The most recent payment of $165 million was awarded last Friday.
“We will be asking for the names,” Frank said at the beginning of a hearing at which AIG Chairman Edward Liddy was called to testify. “If Mr. Liddy declines to give us the names, then I will convene the committee to vote a subpoena for the names. So we do intend to use our power to get the names of the people here.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats said on Tuesday that Congress will force executives of American International Group to pay back at least some of the bonus money, but it's not clear how that could happen.
Frank on Wedneday complained that the AIG contract “appears to have been signed in contemplation of serious losses.” He noted that the bonuses were to be awarded whether the firm made money or lost money.
“As for retention – no I do not think these are the people you want to retain.” Frank said. It would be better for people who did not make the mistakes undo them.
Frank told the hearing he has urged Treasury Secretary Geithner, “Let’s exercise our ownership rights, and let’s bring a lawsuit as the owners against people who in fact did damage to the company.” The federal government now owns 80 percent of the company.
Chairman Liddy, who had led the troubled company for just a few months, called some of the executive bonuses “distasteful.”
"We are meeting today at a high point of public anger," Liddy said in testimony prepared for the hearing. "I share that anger," he said.
The retention bonuses -- ranging from $1,000 to nearly $6.5 million -- were not his idea, and Liddy himself is not getting a bonus.
(The Associated Press contributed some of the information used in this report.)
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