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Unraveling the AIG mess

March 24, 2009|E. Scott Reckard

American International Group Inc. executives who received much of the controversial retention bonuses have agreed to return the money, New York Atty. Gen. Andrew M. Cuomo said late Monday. [See story, B4.]

Although the action may temper the public outrage, the spotlight on AIG will probably remain because of the more than $180 billion in financial aid the company is getting from taxpayers.

Both Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke are scheduled to appear before a congressional panel on AIG today.

With the public focused on the bonuses, the conglomerate, now 80% owned by U.S. taxpayers, struggles to maintain or market its viable businesses, including auto insurer 21st Century Insurance and financial services firm SunAmerica Inc., both based in Woodland Hills, and commercial jetliner owner International Lease Finance Corp. in Century City.

The company insured the bets that major banks made on mortgage-backed securities, and when those bets went bad AIG was on the hook for billions of dollars in losses. AIG got the bailout money because it is considered too big to fail, with tentacles throughout the global financial system. Here's a look at its empire.

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(Please check microfilm for chart information)

-- E. Scott Reckard

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