Page last updated at 22:07 GMT, Saturday, 21 March 2009

AIG bonuses 'higher than thought'

AIG office building, New York
The US bailed out AIG, in effect judging it too large to fail

US insurance giant AIG paid out a total of $218m (150m) in bonuses after accepting bail-out cash, according to a senior US official.

Documents obtained by Connecticut's attorney general showed AIG's payout was $53m, or 32%, more than was previously estimated.

Papers obtained by subpoena showed 73 people got more than $1m each while five received more than $4m.

The US rescued AIG with bail-out funds totalling $170bn since September 2008.

But revelations about the size of bonus payments made by the organisation since the bail-out was agreed have sparked a furious reaction among US lawmakers and the general public.

'Distasteful'

For much of the week the total amount AIG paid out in bonuses was reported at $165m.

But documents obtained by Richard Blumenthal, attorney general of Connecticut, now appear to raise that figure by some 32%.

AIG: QUICK FACTS
Founded in 1919
30 million US policy holders
Operates in 130 countries
Provides insurance to 100,000 companies and other entities

Connecticut was among 19 states demanding that AIG reveal details of bonuses paid to executives, in an effort to begin recovering the funds.

AIG has made no comment on Mr Blumenthal's findings.

But Mr Blumenthal said on Saturday that large bonuses were "showered like confetti" on AIG employees.

He said the newly-revealed number would "further fuel the justified anger and revulsion that people feel", and he planned to ask AIG bosses to explain the discrepancies in bonus figures, AP reported.

"Unless the number can be explained, it will undercut any lingering rationale the company may have for these unjustified payments," Mr Blumenthal said.

Earlier this week US President Barack Obama described the bonus payments as an "outrage", before state legal figures and congressmen also weighed in.

Even AIG boss Edward Liddy - who underwent questioning by a congressional committee on the issue - has described them as "distasteful".

Reports from the US say that AIG executives are now living in fear of a violent public backlash.

Protest bus

Many are reported to have received death threats and have been advised to take extra security precautions even in areas around their homes.

A group of about 40 protesters have hired a coach to tour executives' homes in Connecticut - home to AIG's main offices.

There they delivered letters highlighting the plight of ordinary families during the current recession.

The bonus money may not seem like a great deal to AIG or its top executives, the letter said, "but for Connecticut families struggling to make ends meet, for those of us who are losing our homes, losing our healthcare, losing our jobs, or our life savings, that much money could do tremendous good".

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