During his appearance before Congress today, AIG CEO Edward Liddy said that the Federal Reserve was aware the bonuses would be paid out and “acquiesced in that decision.” In fact, Liddy claimed that Federal Reserve members were present at AIG’s “compensation committee meetings” with the ability to say “yea or nay”:
REP. KANJORSKI (D-PA): Am I to understand that you’re saying that Chairman Bernanke or his designated person at the Federal Reserve was informed that you were going to make these payments and acquiesced in that decision?
LIDDY: Yes, everything we do, we do in partnership with the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve is at our board meetings and our compensation committee meetings, at our various meetings on strategy and they have the ability to weigh in — either yea or nay — on anything that we decide.
Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) later asked for clarification on whether the Fed “did not say nay as far as the bonuses were concerned.” Liddy replied that “there was great angst over the payment of these bonuses,” but that the Fed and AIG ultimately decided that “the risk was too great that we would lose all the progress we made if we didn’t pay these bonuses.”
In November 2008, Liddy penned a letter to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in which he claimed that the top 60 AIG executives “will forego any salary increase through 2009 and their 2008 and 2009 bonuses will be restricted.” During his opening statement today, Liddy asked the employees who received bonuses to give half the money back.