Cuomo’s AIG Deadline: The Clock Is Ticking

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Andrew Cuomo, New York’s attorney general, is a demanding man. First he demanded bonus information from Merrill Lynch, which paid out billions to its employees before announcing it lost over $15 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008. When Merrill wasn’t forthcoming, he asked for it again and demanded the same information from Bank of America, which bought Merrill Lynch in late 2008. Now he’s demanding bonus information from AIG, and he wants it by 4pm today. If Cuomo doesn’t get what he wants by then, he’ll be issuing subpoenas for it. Given Cuomo’s recent history, it’s unlikely he’s bluffing. In his letter (PDF) to AIG CEO Edward Liddy, Cuomo writes:

We were disturbed to learn over the weekend of AIG’s plans to pay millions of dollars to members of the Financial Products subsidiary through its Financial Products Retention Plan. Financial Products was, of course, the division of AIG that led to its meltdown and the huge infusion of taxpayer funds to save the firm. Previously, AIG had agreed at our request to make no payments out of its $600 million Financial Products deferred compensation pool.

We have requested the list of individuals who are to receive payments under this retention plan, as well as their positions at the firm, and it is surprising that you have yet to provide this information.

Cuomo has yet to get the list of individuals he originally requested. If you’ve been following the attorney general’s modus operandi, you’ll know what happens next. He didn’t get what he originally wanted, so now he’s asking for more:

In addition, we also now request a description of each individual’s job description and performance at AIG Financial Products. Please also provide whatever contracts you now claim obligate you to make these payments. Moreover, you should immediately provide us with a list of who negotiated these contracts and who developed this retention plan so we can begin to investigate the circumstances surrounding these questionable bonus arrangements. Finally, we demand an immediate status report as to whether the payments under the retention plan have been made.

Judging from AIG’s past history and general incompetence, it seems unlikely that the business will want to or be able to put together the information Cuomo wants in the next few hours. It’s probably safe to assume that subpoenas will be forthcoming.

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