American International Group ( AIG) is asking the federal government to weigh in on whether it should pay next week retention bonuses it previously agreed to make, reports say.

The bonuses would include $235 million pending for employees at the embattled insurance giant's controversial financial products unit, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

AIG has pressed the Obama administration's new compensation czar to bless the payments in hopes of shielding itself from renewed public outrage, according to the Washington Post.

AIG doesn't actually need the permission of Kenneth Feinberg, who President Obama appointed in June to oversee the pay of top executives at firms that have received large federal bailouts. But AIG, which has received about $180 billion from the government, has been reluctant to move forward without the OK from the government, the Post notes.

The pending $235 million in retention bonuses at AIG's financial products unit -- the unit which brought the company close to bankruptcy, were part of about $450 million in retention bonuses for that unit that AIG has previously disclosed, the Journal says. AIG agreed in early 2008 to make those payments, months before it received a government bailout. The first installment of those payments was made late last year, after the bailout.

The second installment came due in March, and it was the plans to make those payments that set off the prior controversy, the Journal notes.

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