Employees Fear for Their Lives: The Other AIG Outrage

At hearings before the Connecticut legislature Thursday, Stephen Blake, head of human resources at the financial products unit, echoed the arguments Liddy made before the U.S. Congress last week and defended the company's decision to pay the bonuses.

"We've had people call [executive] homes to threaten and intimidate, protesters outside homes and offices," Blake said.

"We've had several valued executives resign over the past few weeks. All of this hurts our efforts to unwind the business and repay the taxpayer as soon as we can," he said.

Some of the company's executives have abandoned what they increasingly view as a sinking ship, helmed by leaders they believe have thrown them to circling sharks by acquiescing to populist demands that they return their bonuses.

On Thursday, two employees who work in the insurance giant's financial products unit in Europe -- which did handle the credit default swaps -- "resigned from their roles given shared concerns regarding their ability to conduct business in the current hostile environment toward Banque AIG and AIG FP employees generally," the company said in a statement.

Executives Call It Quits

When called for comment on the recent threats and resignations, AIG only provided ABC News with the statement announcing their decision to leave the company.

Their departure followed the resignation of Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president in the financial products unit, who made public his letter of intent and his feelings about the way he had been treated by the company in an open letter to Liddy, printed in Wednesday's New York Times.

DeSantis claimed to have no involvement with the credit default swaps.

"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," DeSantis wrote in the Times.

According to Stephen Blake, 15 of the 20 top senior officers who received bonuses have agreed to return the money in March, he said, while others -- like DeSantis -- plan to donate the bonuses to charities.

Blake echoed Liddy's Congressional testimony of last week arguing that the company was contractually obligated to pay out bonuses; that many of the workers had nothing to do with the downfall; that bonuses were necessary to retain the best people; and that many employees continued to work long hours despite being threatened.

"One incentive to stay on and help the company, despite the inevitable end to the story, was AIG's promise back in early 2008, many months before the federal bailout in September, to make retention payments," Blake said.

If anger is increasing among AIG employees, some political observers believe it is waning in Washington, just a week after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, President Barack Obama and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle lambasted Liddy over the bonuses.

Since calling on the very financial companies it blames for the crisis to clean up the mess by buying up toxic assets, the Obama administration has tamped down some of the rage it had previously directed at financial firms and the bonus-loving executives who run them.

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