In early March, the House Financial Services Subcommittee asked AIG CEO Edward Liddy how much AIG had paid in bonuses in 2008. His answer was “I think it might have been in the range of $9 million.”
In late March, Politico asked AIG pretty much the same question, wanting a hard number. At that time, AIG spokesman Nick Ashooh responded that the firm had paid about $120 million in 2008 bonuses to a pool of more than 6,000 employees. This is more than 13 times their first answer.
Now, in response to detailed questions from Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the company now claims that they paid out more than $454 million in bonuses. That’s almost four times their last number, and a stunning 50 times their first guess.
Not only that, but none of these numbers include the controversial $165 million that was offered to to the employees of the very same unit that had crippled AIG in the first place, to keep employees from leaving.
In their own defense, AIG says that the differing numbers are mainly due to slightly different wordings of the questions. In other words, the answer depends on what you mean by the word “bonus”. But here are the exact questions they were asked. Politico asked them: “What was AIG’s total bonus pool (outside the retention agreements) for 2008?” and Rep Cummings asked them “Please specify the exact amount in bonuses — not retention payments or any other form of compensation — paid by AIG to employees of any division of AIG in 2008 or paid in 2009 for work performed in 2008.”