As Owners of AIG, the American Public Deserves Some Answers

More than a year after reckless Wall Street gambling collapsed the economy, no employee of a major American bank or financial institution is behind bars. This fact is all the more astounding when it comes to AIG.

AIG was at the heart of the financial meltdown. Their "innovative" use of risky credit default swaps (a type of insurance policy on bonds) helped transform boring bond trading into a highly leveraged, high-velocity global business.

AIGs built up a $500 billion swaps portfolio, but didn't have the cash when the bond market started to tank. The result? A $180 billion taxpayer bailout. While some of that money may be paid back, we are likely to lose a chunk of it for good.

The American taxpayer owns 80% of AIG right now, and AIG doesn't like it at all. It wants to pay back that money lickity split. Wells Fargo and Citibank paid back TARP bailout funds last week. Of course, we didn't find out until late in the game that Citi was only able to do so because it received billions of dollars in tax breaks from the IRS.

Before we let AIG off the taxpayer's dime, a group of prosecutors wants us to demand some basic accountability: "Who knew what and when? Who benefited, and by exactly how much? Would AIGs counterparties (which included Goldman Sachs and numerous foreign banks)have failed without this taxpayer support?"

Elliot Spitzer, Frank Partnoy and William Black, three experienced investigators and prosecutors of financial fraud, called upon the Obama administration not to release oversight of AIG until they force the firm to cull the hard drives and recover all the e-mails that would answer these questions and more.

It is absolutely shocking that they have not done so already. While the FBI claims that thousands of finance-related investigations are underway, the administration has not put the effort and resources into these prosecutions that prior administrations have.

Compare this to what happened after the Savings and Loan heist almost 20 years ago. No less than 1,852 S&L officials were prosecuted and 1,072 were jailed. Over 500 CEOs and top officers were indicted. The FBI needs to get on the ball here, and Congress needs to pass Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur's bill to give them 1,000 new agents.

But right now, right at this moment while "we the people" stiill own AIG, a simple thing can be done to get the ball rolling. If the government doesn't have the resources or agents to read a million emails, let the taxpayers do it! The government should insist that the company immediately make these reams of materials public so that an "open source," citizen-based investigation can get underway.

Join the movement to demand accountability from AIG and free the emails! Sign the petition at:

Mary Bottari

Mary Bottari is a reporter for the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). She helped launch CMD's award-winning ALEC Exposed investigation and is a two-time recipient of the Sidney Prize for public interest journalism from the Sidney Hillman Foundation.


You for got the part about the U.S. Government forcing the banks to loan money to people that had bad credit and had no way of paying the loan back.

But, they were not forced they were encouraged. And, with supposed government oversight. and, they were all too eager to loan, loan, loan and loan beyond government requirements because they were financially guaranteed by the US taxpayers after securitization of the loans. As usual, the rich got richer, or "bailed out," and the poor got homeless.

the government FORCING banks to loan money? can you be a little more specific? what banks gets forced to loan to people? i think your stretching the truth here.

Are you kidding, the Banks own government. Talk to your lobbyist. But let us not forget about the real problem, its the interest, its the interest.

Yes this is shocking about AIG and politicans. But my mother was killed by a national nursing home chain, Sun Healthcare Group Inc, SUNH, after we complained they'd violated their California State Injunction in 2003. Their Medical Director actually told me "those bastxxds killed your mother". Evelyn Calvert, age 76. Read the details how the CEO threatened me in mediation while I was recovering from pancreatic cancer surgery. Then 7 months later I retained malpractice attorneys to sue him and he died in 2 weeks in his sleep, at age 59, Daniel Leipold. No kidding. Think he was stressed because he thought I'd die first? My blogsite is: Debbie Calvert, former assistant to Buzz Aldrin Newport Beach, California

The one thing this article has wrong is suggesting the people own AIG because AIG is owned by the Federal Reserve, which is a business, not a government institution.