Monday, March 23, 2009

Resign or Go Commit Suicide

The Height of Irresponsibility


AIG’s Mouat Says Bonus Rage Unfair, Would Give up His

Return Every Red Cent or

Resign or Go Commit Suicide

American International Group Inc.’s president for Southeast Asia, Leslie Mouat, said the “abuse” against the insurer’s employees amid furor over bonus payments is “unfair,” and he would give up his own payout if asked.

New York-based AIG, which received a $173 billion federal bailout, sparked an outcry by paying $165 million in bonuses this month to employees of the financial products unit that almost bankrupted the company.

The U.S. House responded to public outrage last week by voting to impose a 90 percent tax on employee bonuses at AIG and other companies that get at least $5 billion in taxpayer bailout funds. AIG said it lost a total of $61.7 billion in the fourth quarter, a record for any U.S. corporation.

Mouat, based in Singapore, said while he is “angry” with the bonus payments, those in the financial products unit represent just “400 of 120,000” people that AIG employs and that the “problem is isolated to one small place.”

Still, the firm receives “15,000 e-mails a day of hate mail on the AIG Web site,” he said.

Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said he wants “contrition” from company executives after previously telling Cedar Rapids, Iowa, radio station WMT they should “resign or go commit suicide.”

“Because I’m scared to death of being photographed with my staff with a beer in my hand at Christmas or Chinese New Year, we canceled every party; I’ve canceled every agent event,” he said.

“I wouldn’t wish this situation on my worst enemy,” Mouat said. “This is beyond character building; this is the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do. But I can assure we will come through.”

American International Assurance Co., which includes most of AIG’s life business in Asia, plans an initial public offering, part of Liddy’s plan to repay taxpayers.

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