In advance of testimony before Congress today, American International Group Inc. released a prepared statement from CEO Edward Liddy that acknowledged that Americans' patience was thinning.
AIG has found itself in a firestorm as the public, politicians and President Barack Obama criticized the company for accepting up to $180 billion in government aid and then distributing multimillion-dollar bonuses.
Liddy, who took over as chairman and chief executive six months ago when the government first stepped in to try to stabilize AIG, said the company had made mistakes "on a scale few could have ever imagined possible."
In the statement, reports Reuters, Liddy said the best hope for recouping taxpayer money was to keep running AIG as a business."No one knows better than I that AIG has been the recipient of generous amounts of government financial aid," he said in remarks prepared for delivery to a congressional committee.
The AIG situation has put Obama in a difficult position as he tries to create a balance between sharing the public's outrage and keeping his focus on the bigger issue of repairing the economy, reports Reuters. Some economists have warned that the bonuses could become a distraction that delays recovery efforts.
AIG has argued that the payouts were necessary to retain top employees with the specialized knowledge to dispose of $2.7 trillion in complex securities that ended up dragging the company to the brink of collapse last year.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said late on Tuesday that AIG would have to promise to compensate taxpayers for the bonuses as a condition for receiving a planned $30 billion expansion of its bailout.
But Geithner said anger toward Liddy was "unjustified" because he had joined AIG at the government's behest and the problems there predated him, said Reuters.
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