New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says 73 employees at American International Group received bonuses of $1 million or more, with one receiving more than $6 million.
Cuomo is launching an investigation into the bailed-out company following revelations that it distributed $165 million in executive bonuses. Cuomo reported his latest findings in a letter Tuesday to Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House financial services committee.
"Already my office has determined that some of these bonuses were staggering in size," Cuomo wrote.
Lawmakers have expressed outrage at the bonuses and pledged to retrieve most of the money. In a breakdown of the figures, Cuomo reported that the top recipient at AIG got more than $6.4 million and the top seven received more than $4 million each.
"These payments were all made to individuals in the subsidiary whose performance led to crushing losses and the near failure of AIG. Thus, last week, AIG made more than 73 millionaires in the unit which lost so much money that it brought the firm to its knees, forcing a taxpayer bailout," Cuomo wrote. "Something is deeply wrong with this outcome."
Cuomo wrote that his office has also obtained the contracts for these employees and found they "shockingly" contain a provision requiring most 2008 bonuses to be 100 percent of their 2007 payments.
Though AIG argues that it was contractually obligated to pay out the bonuses, Cuomo cast doubt on that assertion. He said that since certain employees agreed to salaries of $1 for 2009 in exchange for their bonuses, "It appears that AIG had far more leverage than they now claim."
Plus he wrote that if the federal government had not stepped in with more than $170 billion in bailout money, "the firm likely would have gone bankrupt, and surely no payments would have been made out of the plan."
Cuomo wrote that he will ensure AIG complies with subpoenas he issued for the names of those who received bonuses.