John O’Callaghan and Lilla Zuill
Monday, March 16, 2009
Goldman Sachs Group Inc and a parade of European banks were the major beneficiaries of $93 billion in payments from AIG — more than half of the U.S. taxpayer money spent to rescue the massive insurer.
The revelation on Sunday by American International Group Inc was another potential public relations nightmare, coming on the same weekend that the Obama administration expressed outrage over AIG’s plan to pay massive bonuses to the people in the very division that destroyed the company by issuing billions of dollars in derivatives insuring risky assets.
The size of the payments also illustrates how seriously a potential collapse of AIG was viewed by the regulatory authorities. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in an interview with CBS news magazine “60 Minutes” that the failure of AIG would have brought down the financial system.
AIG, an embattled insurance giant that has received federal bailouts totaling $173 billion and is now paying $165 million in employee bonuses, is at the heart of a global financial crisis that President Barack Obama is trying to address with plans for trillions of dollars in spending.
As part of those efforts, Obama will announce steps on Monday to make it easier for small business owners to borrow money, officials said.