Employees Fear for Their Lives: The Other AIG Outrage

AIG workers say they're fed up with misplaced blame, scared by death threats.

ByABC News
March 26, 2009, 7:16 PM

March 27, 2009— -- Slammed by Congress, assailed by the public, pressured to give up their bonuses, forced to work extra hours and threatened with violence -- there is another group of people outraged over the AIG debacle.

Employees of American International Group not involved with the shady credit default swaps that led to the company's near-collapse last year are angry for being unfairly blamed for a mess they say they had nothing to do with and are scared by threats of violence against them and their families.

"You mother******s should all be taken out back and shot in the head. I'd do it myself if given the chance," read one threatening e-mail sent to the company and obtained by ABC News.

When news broke last week that AIG had paid out bonuses of $165 million from the $170 billion it received in emergency aid from the government, outrage spread from the White House to Main Street.

Much of that anger was focused on the company's financial products unit, based in Wilton, Conn., which sold more derivatives than AIG could back, nearly causing the downfall of what was once the world's largest insurance company.

As one senior manager defended the company's decision to pay bonuses before the Connecticut legislature Thursday, some executives quit rather than continue to work in a company perpetually under siege.

A mid-level employee, granted anonymity because she continues to work in the company's financial products unit (though not with credit default swaps), said some executives there had hired private security firms to protect their homes following two weeks of public outrage over the payment of bonuses to executives with emergency funds allocated by the government.

"They fear every day for their safety," the employee said of her colleagues, some of whom have reported receiving hostile calls at home.

She said some people's children have been threatened on their college campuses and employees' parents have received angry phone calls.

On Saturday, after some executives names were made public, 40 protestors organized by the Connecticut Working Families Party demonstrated outside the homes of AIG employees, including the executive who received the largest known bonus.