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From an AIG Executive, the Other Side of the Story

This resignation letter in The New York Times today from an AIG executive in the financial products unit explaining the bonus controversy from his point of view probably will be flying around the blogosphere today. In the letter to AIG CEO Edward Liddy, the executive, Jake DeSantis, says it’s not public shame that prompted his move to resign and to donate his bonus. DeSantis said he stayed with the company for an annual salary of $1 and a sense of loyalty - he had nothing to do with the credit default swaps that tanked the firm — and yet he’s been vilified.

I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.

After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.

DeSantis also aims at Liddy directly:

I have the utmost respect for the civic duty that you are now performing at A.I.G. You are as blameless for these credit default swap losses as I am. You answered your country’s call and you are taking a tremendous beating for it.

But you also are aware that most of the employees of your financial products unit had nothing to do with the large losses. And I am disappointed and frustrated over your lack of support for us. I and many others in the unit feel betrayed that you failed to stand up for us in the face of untrue and unfair accusations from certain members of Congress last Wednesday and from the press over our retention payments, and that you didn’t defend us against the baseless and reckless comments made by the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut.

This tidbit on Liddy’s timing is particularly interesting:

At no time during the past six months that you have been leading A.I.G. did you ask us to revise, renegotiate or break these contracts — until several hours before your appearance last week before Congress.

Read it for yourself, and decided whether DeSantis deserves your sympathy. But whether or not you agree with his side of the story, it’s worth hearing. In the outrage and anger of last week, not everyone’s voice was heard.

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