AIG: Rich Man Angst

The following are a few excerpts from a letter of resignation sent on Tuesday by Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the American International Group’s financial products unit, to Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G.
"I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.

After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. 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.

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down."
"The profitability of the businesses with which I was associated clearly supported my compensation. I never received any pay resulting from the credit default swaps that are now losing so much money. I did, however, like many others here, lose a significant portion of my life savings in the form of deferred compensation invested in the capital of A.I.G.-F.P. because of those losses. In this way I have personally suffered from this controversial activity — directly as well as indirectly with the rest of the taxpayers.

I have the utmost respect for the civic duty that you are now performing at A.I.G. You are as blameless for these credit default swap losses as I am. You answered your country’s call and you are taking a tremendous beating for it."

"On March 16 I received a payment from A.I.G. amounting to $742,006.40, after taxes. In light of the uncertainty over the ultimate taxation and legal status of this payment, the actual amount I donate may be less — in fact, it may end up being far less if the recent House bill raising the tax on the retention payments to 90 percent stands. Once all the money is donated, you will immediately receive a list of all recipients."
You can view the entire letter (published by the NY Times) here. I had mixed emotions as I read Mr. DeSantis' letter.. at first I started to enter into his angst and began to resonate with his feelings. Then I realized that I was reading the narcissistic thoughts of a very very wealthy man. He does not see himself as a part of the problem at all because he was not involved in the precise part of AIG that caused their downfall. His million dollar plus payment seemed an appropriate compensation for him even though his company as a whole failed and had to be bailed out by the US taxpayer.

His complaint would have been so much more genuine if his annual compensation was not so extravagant. I mean really.. are we to feel sorry for this man who has probably bankrolled mega-millions over the past few years? I think that his letter is sadly representative of the problem. What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I too had mixed emotions on reading his letter; a mix between thinking, "what a whining, woosie, wanker" and thinking, "I am going to slit the tires on his Lamborgini". Noone works commensurately hard enough to make that kind of money.


I love to get comments and usually respond. So come back to see my reply. You can click here to see my comment policy.