Back in March, word got out that AIG's financial products division--the very division that nearly brought the economy to its knees last year--was getting $165 million in bonuses. They later agreed to return $45 million. However, the money is coming in at a trickle.
But as the final days of 2009 tick away, a majority of that money remains unpaid. Only about $19 million has been given back, according to a report by the special inspector general for the government's bailout program.
Some of the employees who had offered to return their bonuses have instead left the company, taking their cash with them.
Others remain at Financial Products but are also holding on to their money until they see what Kenneth R. Feinberg, the Obama administration's "compensation czar," decides about whether they should get future bonus payments they have also been promised.
This has the makings of a legal minefield. Several Financial Products employees have already retained lawyers in case AIG or the government blocks the payments. However, we may have one weapon at our disposal--public ridicule from New York AG Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo only backed off from his threat to release the names of those who got the bonuses only after AIG agreed to have them return at least some of the money. While Cuomo presently has no comment, it's hard to believe that he isn't ready to roll out a press release or two with the names if they don't ante up.
For all of the employees' current bluster, it's a safe bet they'll clam up in a hurry with one press conference from Cuomo. Let's encourage him to turn up the heat on AIG. Contact him online here.