Senator's AIG wish: Suicide

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A PROMINENT US senator has quipped that executives of the troubled insurer American International Group might consider suicide, adopting what he called a Japanese approach to taking responsibility for their actions.

AIG has received $180 billion in US taxpayers' money to stay in business, but it has emerged that it still paid bonuses of $165 million to staff for their 2008 performance.

Senator Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate finance committee, made the comments in a radio interview.

"The first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them (is] if they'd follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I'm sorry, and then do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide," Mr Grassley said.

"And in the case of the Japanese," he added, "they usually commit suicide before they make any apology."

Barack Obama, the US president, has expressed "outrage" at bonuses paid to AIG employees, including some who worked in the unit primarily responsible for the company's troubles.

Yesterday, New York's attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, revealed that AIG created 73 millionaires with bonuses of $1 million or more in 2008.

The top bonus recipient at AIG last year got more than $6.4 million and the top ten received a total of $42 million.

"These payments were all made to individuals in the subsidiary whose performance led to crushing losses and the near failure of AIG," Mr Cuomo said.

"Thus, last week, AIG made more than 73 millionaires in the unit which lost so much money that it brought the firm to its knees, forcing a taxpayer bail-out."

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