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Head Of AIG Apologizes For Comparing Bonus Outrage To Lynchings

In a statement to BuzzFeed, AIG Chief Executive Robert Benmosche apologized for his comments comparing outrage over executive bonuses to “what we did in the Deep South” and saying that it was “just as bad and just as wrong.” Benmosche said he “never meant to offend anyone” and his comments were a “poor choice of words.”

Robert Benmosche, chief executive officer of American International Group Inc. (AIG). Bloomberg / Getty Images

Robert Benmosche, the CEO of insurance giant AIG, has apologized for comparing the outrage over AIG employees receiving bonuses following the government’s bailout of the company in 2008 and 2009 to lynch mobs.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal published in two parts, Benmosche said the backlash in Congress and elsewhere over 73 AIG employees getting at least $1 million in bonuses “was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitch forks and their hangman nooses, and all that — sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]…And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong.”

In a statement to BuzzFeed, Benmosche said, “It was a poor choice of words. I never meant to offend anyone by it.”

Benmosche made similar remarks in 2009 at a townhall meeting of AIG employees in Houston. According to Bloomberg News, Benmosche said that Andrew Cuomo, who was then New York Attorney General and first revealed the bonus payments, “doesn’t deserve to be in government, and he surely shouldn’t be the attorney general of the state of New York. What he did is criminal. You don’t create lynch mobs to go out to people’s homes and do the things he did.”

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Matthew Zeitlin is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Zeitlin reports on Wall Street and big banks.
Contact Matthew Zeitlin at matt.zeitlin@buzzfeed.com.
 
 

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