Geithner to Blame for AIG Bonuses: Report

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Most of the blame for American International Group's ( AIG) payment of hefty bonuses can be placed on Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

This was the statement made by Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the government's troubled asset relief program, during Congressional testimony on Wednesday.

Geithner said he did not learn until March about the $1.75 billion in bonuses and other compensation promised to AIG employees. But Barofsky's report shows officials at the New York Fed learned of the payments in November. AIG has been berated for its grandiose spending habits; most notably how much it pays its employees. That criticism is presumably about to get louder.

The flailing insurer paid more than $168 million to anywhere from 300 to 400 employees in its financial products unit -- including an assistant in a kitchen -- between December 2008 and March 2009, Barofsky said. This was after AIG received its massive bailout loan from the government.

Indeed, one of the most entertaining aspects of the report is that $7,700 retention bonus the kitchen assistant received. Senior executives raked in $4 million.

On Tuesday, the Obama administration's Pay czar Kenneth Feinberg said AIG must reduce the $198 million in scheduled retention payments, but did not reveal by how much.

Barofsky said that the Treasury did not understand AIG's pay structure when it gave the insurer the loans last fall.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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