American International Group Inc. says the much-criticized gathering it held in September at a resort in California was for top-producing independent agents, not for its own executives.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, attacked the retreat Tuesday during a hearing on the recent problems at American International Group Inc., New York.
The event was mischaracterized at the hearing, AIG Chairman Edward Liddy has written in a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
Waxman described the event as a “week-long retreat for company executives” at a resort in California where rooms can cost more than $1,000 per night.
Invoices sent to the committee showed that AIG paid nearly $200,000 for rooms, more than $150,000 for meals and $23,000 for spa fees.
Pictures of the resort were displayed during the hearing.
“Average Americans are suffering economically,” Waxman said. “They are losing their jobs, their homes and their health insurance. Yet less than one week after the taxpayers recued AIG, the company executives could be found wining and dining at one of the most expensive resorts in the nation.”
Neither of the hearing witnesses from AIG, former chief executives Martin Sullivan and Robert Willumstad, said he knew anything about the event.
Liddy writes in his letter that the event was planned months before the bailout and hosted by an AIG subsidiary for top-producing life agents.
Only 10 of the more than 100 attendees were AIG employees, and none of those came from the company’s headquarters, Liddy writes.
Going forward, Liddy writes, AIG understands that its situation has changed, and “that we owe our employees and the American public new standards and approaches.”
AIG is reevaluating the costs of its operations in light of its new financial state as part of that process, Liddy writes.
“AIG is focused on doing what is necessary to address our capital structure, repay the Fed credit facility and emerge as a healthy global insurer,” Liddy writes. “In the meantime, our insurance businesses continue to operate normally and satisfy the needs of our policy holders.”