24 Mar 2009

AIG division to give back $US30m in bonuses - report

9:39 pm on 24 March 2009

Bosses at a division of American insurance giant AIG have agreed to pay back $US30 million in bonuses amid an outcry over the use of taxpayers' money for executive perks, US media reports.

New York Attorney-General Andrew Cuomo said some 15 of the top 20 bonus recipients in the firm's financial products division had agreed to give back their windfalls, the New York Times reported on Monday.

AIG has been lambasted after it emerged the insurance giant had used $US165 million of government bailout funds to pay for staff bonuses, despite massive losses at the firm.

In the final quarter of 2008 AIG posted a $US61.7 billion loss, the largest quarterly loss ever recorded in the United States.

AIG's financial products division was widely blamed for the company's downfall through its investments in complex financial derivatives that turned out to be worth a fraction of their on-book value.

News that some of the unit's staff had received retention bonuses derived from taxpayers' cash prompted US lawmakers to propose a 90% tax on the premiums.

The US government has so far pumped around $US170 billion into AIG to keep it afloat, fearing its collapse could deepen a market-wide liquidity crisis.