An American International Group Inc. executive who received a retention bonus worth more than $742,000 after taxes has resigned publicly - in an op-ed column in The New York Times.
Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president at AIG's Financial Products division, said Wednesday he is leaving the company and will donate his entire bonus to charity. The letter, addressed to AIG CEO Edward Liddy, criticized Liddy for, among other things, agreeing to the payments but then calling the bonuses "distasteful" as he testified before disapproving members of Congress.
"We in the financial products unit have been betrayed by AIG and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials," wrote DeSantis, who was head of business development for commodities. "In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself."
He added: "I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to AIG. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so."
New York-based AIG has been heavily criticized by government officials and the public after it awarded $165 million in bonuses earlier this month. The retention bonuses, payments designed to keep valued employees from quitting, were paid out whether the employee had a great year or a terrible one.
The bonuses were given to employees of the financial-products division, a global unit that issued derivatives called credit-default swaps that helped sink AIG as a whole last year.
Two days after AIG received its first injection from the government in mid-September, AIG named Liddy, former chairman of Allstate Corp., as chairman and chief executive.
Liddy told Congress last week that the retention payments - ranging from $1,000 to nearly $6.5m. - were not his idea and called them "distasteful." Liddy himself is not getting a bonus and is only drawing $1 a year in salary. The bonuses were promised in contracts with employees that AIG signed early last year, long before then-Treasury secretary Henry Paulson asked Liddy to take over the company.