As you may have noticed (and/or chafed at), we've been uncharacteristically sympathetic to AIG executives whose bonuses became a major screaming issue last week. A lot of them, it seemed, are normal people who depend upon their bonuses like we do our salaries, they have houses and mortgages and dogs, and just because they're living at a higher income bracket doesn't mean that they deserve to have their income suddenly taken away and be publicly humiliated on top of that. Such is the argument made by the anonymous wife of an AIG executive who wrote an awesome rant in her Live Journal that lays out how the pay system at AIG really works, and how she feels about the "bullying, betrayal and blackmail" that her family has experienced in recent weeks. "Flakyak," as she calls herself (Clusterstock has identified her as Jan Ellen Harriman, the wife of a Banque AIG executive director), has some harsh words for Joe Cassano — the former head of financial products and the person most say is responsible for the insurer's foray into the CDS market — and more for Edward Liddy, Andrew Cuomo, and the federal government.
Here's part of her story:
the government and AIG parent lied to us. My husband had been asked to, and signed an agreement to stay for the next 2 years. In October we were told that all the prior compensation we had been forced to 're-invest' in AIG was gone and would never ever be paid to us EVER no matter whether the company ever made any more money ever again.
It was a body blow. It was what we had worked 15 years for. It was our children's education, our retirement, the down payment on a house (we own nothing). Can you feel it? That's the draining away of hope.
But one bone was thrown - we were assured that the 'retention payments' (remember we're still on a 15 year old salary that's never risen so this is actually the bulk of our annual compensation) would be paid.
Assured by Cuomo, the Federal Government and Liddy, the CEO of AIG. So he went back to work for another 6 months.
They paid us part in December - I suppose I should have smelled a rat, but that's that 20/20 hindsight thing. It was nice, we'd planned on no Christmas as we didn't expect the money until March. So the boys got to pick out something they really wanted and we had a nice Christmas.
The year before they had moved our payment from December to March. Yes, we had budgeted for 12 months and it suddenly turned into 15. Could you do that? Go 3 months without getting paid. Amazingly we managed.
We waited worried that the March payment might not come, despite the assurances. We counted the days until the transfer was to be made, checking the FX rate, wondering what the final number would be that we would live on and try to rebuild the children's education fund with - retirement fund will have to wait.
And then our government betrayed us, painted us as thieves and threw our co-workers in Connecticut to the mob. No one ever approached anyone at FP to re-negotiate those contracts and everyone currently screaming about them knew what they contained in October if not in January.
And now Cuomo says that the security of our families can be purchased by returning the compensation we had been promised with his re-assurance in October. He is no better than a highwayman waiving a gun "Your money or your lives."
Now, sure, plenty of people don't have retirement funds or education funds or enough money for a down payment on a house. But having it and having it taken away? That's pretty bad, too.