Smoke, No Fire as AIG Exec Testifies on Bonuses

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    NEW YORK - MARCH 23: A man walks past a now-blank marquee in front of a former AIG building March 23, 2009 in New York City.

    There have been no surprises as members of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Banks Committee question Stephen Blake, a senior human relations exec at AIG Thursday. 

    There have also been few answers.

    The committee is questioning Blake to find out more about why the company handed out $165 million in bonuses after the insurance giant received a $182.5 billion federal bailout.

    Blake has been able to talk about the employee retention program, a two-year-program running from 2008 to 2010, but has provided little light on the legal reasons why the company handed out the cash. 

    Blake said he cannot speak to the law because he is not a lawyer. New York-based AIG has said it paid the bonuses partly because of Connecticut's wage law.

    “Maybe this committee should be talking about changing the law,” Sen. Joseph Crisco (D-Ansonia) said.

    The issue of the bailout has been explosive and employees of the financial products division, which is based out of Wilton, have received death threats.

    Blake is the only company exec to speak at the committee. AIG employees have received death threats over the bailout and officials said they feared for the safety of their workers.

    Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal called Thursday's testimony from Blake "a first step and an initial stage in an ongoing investigation" by the legislative committee.

    Lawmakers said they may privately interview some of the AIG executives who were subpoenaed or other employees at a later time.