President Barack Obama on Monday issued a blistering attack on American International Group and pledged to stop the struggling insurance and investment giant from paying out millions in executive bonuses.
AIG has taken $170 billion in federal bailout funds, and the company announced over the weekend that it was bound contractually to pay out tens of millions in executive bonuses, prompting a storm of criticism inside the Obama administration.
The $165 million was payable to executives by Sunday and was part of a larger total payout reportedly valued at $450 million.
"It's hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay," Obama said at the outset of an appearance to announce help for small businesses hurt by the deep recession.
"How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?," the president said.