CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — First there was the $440,000 American Insurance Group Inc. spent entertaining executives days after receiving an $85 billion lifeline from the Federal Reserve, now it’s $86,000 for a hunting trip in England as the faltering company reaped another $37.8 billion in taxpayer funded loans.
News of the hunting trip emerged Wednesday as New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo ordered AIG to do away with golden parachutes for executives, golf outings and parties while taking government money to stay afloat.
“Even after the taxpayer-funded bailout of AIG, the company paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for luxurious retreats for its executives, including an overseas hunting party and a golf outing,” Cuomo wrote in a letter to the New York-based insurer.
He said the spending could be “fraudulent conveyances” under a state law regarding debtors and creditors and noted that beyond those excesses millions were paid to executives who were running AIG as it faced dissolution with government help.
Cuomo said he has the power under state business law to review and possibly rescind any inappropriate AIG spending as long as the Federal Reserve is propping up the huge insurer with almost $123 billion in loans announced since Sept. 16.
Company officials said the hunting trip in the English countryside was an annual event for customers that had been planned months before the bailout. The company pledged — as it did following the September trip — to do everything possible to end such extravagances. They declined to say which AIG executives attended.
“This was an annual event for customers of the AIG property casualty insurance companies in the U.K. and Europe, and planned months before the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s loan to AIG,” company spokesman Peter Tulupman said Wednesday morning.
In a prepared statement later in the day, the company said, “We will continue to take all measures necessary to ensure that these activities cease immediately. AIG’s priority is to continue focusing on actions necessary to repay the Federal Reserve loan and emerge as a vital, ongoing business.”
The company said last week it would stop “all nonessential conferences, meetings and activities that do not clearly maximize value and service given the current conditions.”
Last month, and just days after the U.S. government stepped in to save AIG with the $85 billion taxpayer-funded loan, the company picked up a $440,000 tab for a weeklong retreat at the posh St. Regis Resort in California for top-performing insurance agents.
Lawmakers investigating AIG’s meltdown said they were enraged that executives of AIG’s main U.S. life insurance subsidiary spent a lavish amount on the retreat, complete with spa treatments, banquets and golf outings. Last week, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino called the event “despicable.”
At that time, AIG issued a statement saying that the “business event” was planned months before the Sept. 16 bailout and that it was held for top-producing independent life insurance agents, not AIG employees. Of the 100 attendees, only 10 worked for the AIG unit hosting the event, it said.
The insurer said Chief Executive Edward Liddy sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson “clarifying the circumstances” of the event. In the letter, Liddy assured Paulson that AIG is “reevaluating the costs of all aspects of our operations in light of the new circumstances in which we are all operating.”
The insurer then said it canceled a future California retreat that was to be held later this month.
Regarding the recent hunting trip, “We regret that this event was not canceled,” Tulupman said Wednesday.
Shares of AIG fell 37 cents, or 13.2 percent, to $2.43 in trading Wednesday.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.