The lame argument that those bonus-baby employees needed to be retained in order to sort out the mess they had created was also shot down by Cuomo, who revealed after his office's initial investigation had pierced AIG's veil of secrecy that "(e)leven of the individuals who received 'retention' bonuses of $1 million or more are no longer working at AIG, including one who received $4.6 million."
But the $165 million in taxpayer funds used to reward them is but a sideshow in a far larger drama of moral decay swirling around the banking bailout. It should not distract from the many billions, not paltry millions, of our dollars being diverted to reward the very folks who brought us such misery. Consider the $12.8 billion of the $170 billion that taxpayers gave AIG in bailout funds that AIG then secretly diverted to Goldman Sachs, a company that evidently has a lock on both the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve no matter which political party is in power. It was the biggest payoff among those that AIG made to a score of foreign and domestic financial giants.
The bailout is a response to a banking crisis that resulted from the radical deregulation pushed by former Goldman Sachs honcho Robert Rubin when he was President Clinton's treasury secretary.
Another Goldman Sachs chairman-turned-treasury-secretary, Henry Paulson, in the Bush administration designed the trillion-dollar bank bailout that will go down as the greatest swindle in U.S. history.
It was because of Paulson that AIG was saved from bankruptcy hours after Goldman rival Lehman Brothers was allowed to go down the drain. Why that reversal of strategy in a top-secret meeting called by then-New York Fed Chair Timothy Geithner, a Rubin protege and now Barack Obama's treasury secretary? Why was Goldman's Lloyd Blankfein the only financial industry CEO in attendance? When that news leaked out, his role was defended as that of a noninvolved concerned citizen with expert knowledge and whose firm had no direct monetary stake in the outcome.
That was a lie.
Goldman Sachs was into AIG insurance policies for at least $20 billion, which is why the firm got that $12.8 billion while Paulson was in charge. It took six months for the embarrassing facts to finally come out. The bailout program was administered by Neel Kashkari, a former Goldman Sachs VP -- why are we not surprized at that?
Another pretend innocent in all this is AIG's CEO Edward M. Liddy, famed defender of the $440,000 AIG executive retreat in Monarch Beach, Calif., held on the heels of the taxpayer bailout. His actions now are defended as mistakes made by a well-intentioned outsider who decided to work for a dollar a year after Paulson appointed him head of AIG. That is just garbage.
Liddy was complicit in Goldman Sachs' role in creating this mess. As a director of Goldman Sachs, he was paid $685,770 in 2007 and would have come in for some questioning if the firm had gone down. Liddy even headed its audit committee during the five years before he resigned that seat to take over AIG in September 2008. As for his salary sacrifice, not to worry -- in 2005, when he was still CEO of Allstate Insurance, he received $26.7 million in compensation.
What we have here is a rare glimpse into the workings of the billionaires' club, that elite gang of perfectly legal loan sharks who, in only the most egregious cases, will be judged as criminals -- Bernard Madoff, former chairman of NASDAQ, comes to mind. These other amoral sharks, who confiscated billions from shareholders and the 401(k) accounts of innocent victims, were rewarded handsomely, rarely needing to break the laws their lobbyists had purchased.
© Creators Syndicate
Comments? Send a letter to the editor.
Albion Monitor March
20, 2009 (http://www.albionmonitor.com)
All Rights Reserved.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use in any format.