Page last updated at 21:36 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

AIG employee quits at 'betrayal'

AIG sign
AIG's decision to pay bonuses had prompted national outrage

A top executive at troubled insurer AIG has resigned, citing "betrayal" by AIG and "unfair persecution" by elected US officials.

Jake DeSantis, an executive vice-president, criticised chief executive Edward Liddy for paying bonuses, which he then called "distasteful".

In a letter published in the New York Times, he also said he would donate his entire bonus to charity.

Bonuses paid to executives of AIG have caused widespread outrage in the US.

Mr DeSantis, who worked in the insurer's financial products division, said after 11 years of service to AIG, he could "no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so".

'Betrayed'

"We in the financial products division unit have been betrayed by AIG and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials," he added.

I and many others in the unit feel betrayed that you failed to stand up for us
Jack DeSantis, AIG

The financial products division of AIG has been roundly criticised for overseeing massive losses that played a large part in bringing down AIG.

Mr DeSantis rejected such criticism.

"Most of the employees of your financial products unit had nothing to do with the large losses," he said.

"I am disappointed and frustrated over your lack of support for us.

"I and many others in the unit feel betrayed that you failed to stand up for us in the face of untrue and unfair accusations from certain members of Congress and from the press over our retention payments."

'Let down'

Mr DeSantis had agreed to an annual salary of $1 (£0.68; 0.74 euros), but said he had been "promised many times we would be rewarded in March 2009", referring to a bonus.

AIG: BONUS TIMELINE
AIG logo
14 March: Documents show AIG promised to pay $220m in retention bonuses. $55m was paid in December and $165m by March 15
17 March: President Barack Obama says he is outraged by the bonuses
18 March: AIG chairman calls on staff to repay at least half their bonuses
19 March: US lawmakers vote in favour of a bill to levy a 90% tax on big bonuses from firms bailed out by taxpayers
23 March: Nine of the 10 top executives who received bonuses agree to return them
Source: Reuters

"I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down," he explained.

He said he would donate his entire bonus to those suffering in the global economic downturn. "My intent is to keep none of the money myself," he said.

"I do not want to see it disappear back into the obscurity of AIG's or the federal government's budget," he said.

After tax, his bonus amounted to $742,006.

Mr DeSantis also questioned Mr Liddy's decision to call the bonuses "distasteful".

Referring to his boss's decision to bring forward some of the payouts, he said: "That action signified to us your support, and was hardly something that one would do if he truly found the contracts "distasteful"."

"We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated out of our payments," he argued.

Mr DeSantis also said that a number of people within the division had turned down job offers on the basis that they would receive their bonus in full.

"They are now angry about having been misled by AIG's promises and are not inclined to return the money as a favour to you," he said.

Bonus payments totalling $165m caused anger in the US after the government bailed out the insurer to the tune of $170bn.

President Barack Obama expressed his outrage at the payments and Mr Liddy asked executives to return the bonus payments.

US lawmakers in the House of Representatives also voted in favour of an emergency bill to levy a 90% tax on big bonuses from firms bailed out by taxpayers as a direct result of the AIG payouts.



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