scenes from a meltdown

AIG Executive Writes Resignation Letter, Tells Edward Liddy Where to Stick It

The resignation letter from Jake DeSantis, a vice-president in AIG’s financial-products unit, is really a triumph of the genre, and not just because of its placement — smack in the middle of the Times op-ed section this morning, right at the exact moment when most people have started to realize that last week’s off-with-their-heads moment was, well, kind of stupid. In just under 1,500 words, DeSantis says a lot of things that needed to be said, deftly shames his boss, Edward Liddy — who we learn asked them to give back 50 percent of their bonuses only “several hours” before his appearance last week before Congress — and rightfully calls out attorney generals Andrew Cuomo and Richard Blumenthal for being bullies who chose politics over common sense. Reading it is almost as satisfying as watching the scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Anne Hathaway throws her phone into the fountain. But then, of course, you realize that we all have a stake in AIG’s success, and if people like this are dropping out, then we’re all pretty much screwed. Anyway, after the jump, our favorite bits.

• “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. 

• “My guess is that in October, when you learned of these retention contracts, you realized that the employees of the financial products unit needed some incentive to stay and that the contracts, being both ethical and useful, should be left to stand. That’s probably why A.I.G. management assured us on three occasions during that month that the company would ‘live up to its commitment’ to honor the contract guarantees. That may be why you decided to accelerate by three months more than a quarter of the amounts due under the contracts. That action signified to us your support, and was hardly something that one would do if he truly found the contracts ’distasteful.’”

• “As most of us have done nothing wrong, guilt is not a motivation to surrender our earnings. We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house. The only real motivation that anyone at A.I.G.-F.P. now has is fear. Mr. Cuomo has threatened to ‘name and shame,’ and his counterpart in Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, has made similar threats — even though attorneys general are supposed to stand for due process, to conduct trials in courts and not the press.”

• “That is why I have decided to donate 100 percent of the effective after-tax proceeds of my retention payment directly to organizations that are helping people who are suffering from the global downturn. This is not a tax-deduction gimmick; I simply believe that I at least deserve to dictate how my earnings are spent, and do not want to see them disappear back into the obscurity of A.I.G.’s or the federal government’s budget. Our earnings have caused such a distraction for so many from the more pressing issues our country faces, and I would like to see my share of it benefit those truly in need.”

• “I’m not sure how you will greet my resignation, but at least Attorney General Blumenthal should be relieved that I’ll leave under my own power and will not need to be ‘shoved out the door.’”

Dear A.I.G., I Quit! [NYT]
Suddenly I See [YouTube]

AIG Executive Writes Resignation Letter, Tells Edward Liddy Where to Stick It