AIG - SIGTARP

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Where did the billions go?

"Neil M. Barofsky is not a household name like some special investigators of the past — Kenneth Starr during the Clinton administration or Archibald Cox in the Watergate years.

But increasingly, Mr. Barofsky is setting off fireworks on Capitol Hill as he quietly and methodically pieces together the most complete historical record yet of the financial bailout. His reports are careful but not cautious, showing a willingness to stand up to some of the most powerful people and institutions in Washington or on Wall Street.

“Neil is not afraid to just follow things where they lead,” said Anthony S. Barkow, a friend and fellow former prosecutor in the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. “He is undeterred by having powerful people angry at him for doing what he does.”

So far, Mr. Barofsky has accused the former Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., of misleading the public about the health of the nation’s biggest banks during the crisis of 2008. He has been investigating the taxpayer-subsidized shotgun wedding of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America. He has named a group of bonus recipients at the American International Group who promised to return $45 million to their government-owned employer last year, then coughed up less than half of it.

On Wednesday, Mr. Barofsky will be one of several top officials to answer questions before a Congressional panel on how the government handled the bailout of A.I.G. Mr. Barofsky will cite contradictions in the Treasury’s public statements about the bailout, according to an excerpt from his written testimony obtained by The New York Times.

The Treasury issued a statement this month that “taxpayers will be made whole” on certain investments in A.I.G., but its own analysis has estimated that the Treasury will lose $30 billion on the same investments, according to the prepared testimony.

Mr. Barofsky will also announce that he has opened an investigation into possible misconduct in the New York Fed’s efforts to limit A.I.G.’s disclosures about the bailout in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

SIGTARP reports on AIG

SIGTARP audit of Federal Reserve payments to AIG counterparties - Nov. '09

"The Federal Reserve Bank of New York gave up much of its power in high-pressure negotiations with the American International Group’s trading partners last year, according to a government report made public on Monday.

Just two days before the New York Fed paid A.I.G.’s partners 100 cents on the dollar to tear up their contracts with the insurance giant, one bank volunteered to take a modest haircut — but it never got the chance.

UBS, of Switzerland, alone offered to give a break to the New York Fed in the negotiations last November over how to keep A.I.G. from toppling and taking other banks down with it. It would have accepted 98 cents on the dollar.

But UBS’s good-faith gesture was quickly drowned out by Goldman Sachs and the top French bank regulator. They argued, with others, that it would be improper and perhaps even criminal to force A.I.G.’s trading partners to bear losses outside of bankruptcy court.

The banks and the regulator were confident that the New York Fed was not willing to push A.I.G. into bankruptcy, because earlier in the fall the New York Fed had stepped in with $85 billion to prop up the insurer.

The New York Fed, led then by Timothy F. Geithner, who is now the Treasury secretary, therefore had little leverage in the negotiations, according to a post-mortem of what has emerged as the most inflammatory episode in the rescue of A.I.G.

The Fed “refused to use its considerable leverage,” Neil M. Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, wrote in a report to be officially released on Tuesday, examining the much-criticized decision to make A.I.G.’s trading partners whole when people and businesses were taking painful losses in the financial markets.

There have been suggestions that the Fed chose to negotiate weakly, Mr. Barofsky said, to give a “backdoor bailout” to A.I.G.’s banks. He said Mr. Geithner and the Fed’s lawyers had denied this, but added that “irrespective of their stated intent,” there was no doubt about the result: “Tens of billions of dollars of government money was funneled inexorably and directly to A.I.G.’s counterparties.”

Among its notable findings, the report challenged Goldman’s position that it should not have been forced to bear losses on its dealings with A.I.G. because it had successfully hedged away any exposure. Mr. Barofsky said that Goldman’s hedges were unlikely to have held up amid the market turbulence of late last year.

A spokesman for Goldman took issue with that finding, saying that the bank believed it had, in fact, successfully hedged its exposure to A.I.G. up until the point in November when the Fed was seeking a way to terminate all the trading partners’ contracts with A.I.G.

He said any additional exposure to A.I.G.’s losses was a moot point, because the Fed’s intervention had eliminated the risk.

The report concluded that the Fed’s efforts to negotiate concessions from A.I.G.’s trading partners had no chance of success because of several crucial positions taken by the Fed.

First, the Fed considered itself a creditor of A.I.G., rather than a regulator that could impose its will on banks. It approached A.I.G.’s trading partners with a request for “voluntary” concessions. Mr. Barofsky said this differed from the government’s role in the auto industry, where it lent the car makers money but also negotiated aggressively and won substantial concessions from other creditors.

The Fed also decided it could not treat foreign banks differently from American banks, for fear of setting off foreign retaliation.

While seeking concessions from the various banks, the Fed contacted the Commission Bancaire, a French regulator, to request support in its negotiations with two French institutions, Société Générale and Calyon.

The Commission Bancaire responded “forcibly” that unless A.I.G. were in bankruptcy, the French banks were “precluded by law from making concessions and could face potential criminal liability” if they helped.

By that time, seven of the eight banks had also refused to grant concessions. Officials at the Fed then met with Mr. Geithner. The officials recommended that the Fed stop seeking concessions.

The report said Mr. Geithner did not recall being told one bank was willing to take a haircut, but did not challenge the account of those on his staff.

The report also shed new light on the effect the rating agencies had on the way the Fed handled the A.I.G. emergency. The company’s run-on-the-bank disaster began with a major credit downgrade in September; the Fed quickly responded with an $85 billion loan.

But because the Fed moved so quickly, it recycled a set of lending terms that had previously been devised for A.I.G. by lenders in the private sector. The interest rate was too high, given A.I.G.’s distress, and so the loan that was supposed to rescue the insurer ended up putting it at risk of a second credit downgrade. That, in turn, could have set off a second run-on-the-bank episode.

The Fed got caught in a no-win situation, the report said. While it might have been able to win concessions by threatening to withdraw support from A.I.G., it also ran the risk that the credit agencies would take the threat too seriously and impose another catastrophic downgrade.

Mr. Barofsky said the facts also undermined the Fed’s arguments that banking secrecy was an essential part of bank stability.

“The default position, whenever government funds are deployed in a crisis to support markets or institutions, should be that the public is entitled to know what is being done with government funds,” he said.


Geithner disputes SIGTARP report - Nov. '09

"... For his part, Mr. Geithner disputed much of the inspector general’s findings. He also took issue with the conclusion that the Fed failed to develop a contingency plan for an A.I.G. rescue and largely depended on plans proffered by the banks themselves.

He said the report’s view that the Fed didn’t use its might to get better terms in the rescue was unfair. “This idea that we were unwilling to use leverage to get better terms misses the central reality of the situation — the choice we had was to let A.I.G. default or to prevent default,” he said. “We could not enforce haircuts without causing selective defaults and selective defaults would have brought down the company.”

Mr. Geithner also said that the “perception that this decision by the government, not my decision alone, was made to protect any individual investment bank is unfounded.”

Less than two weeks after the A.I.G. bailout, Mr. Geithner took the firm’s side when he criticized a Sept. 28, 2008, article in The New York Times that I wrote about the A.I.G. bailout. That article included Goldman’s statement that it wouldn’t have been affected by an A.I.G. collapse. Among other things, the article, like Mr. Barofsky’s report, questioned Goldman’s assertion.

According to an e-mail message that Goldman sent to the New York Fed at the time, Mr. Geithner talked about the article with Mr. Viniar, Goldman’s chief financial officer, before calling me. When Mr. Geithner called, he said that Goldman had no exposure to an A.I.G. collapse and that the article had left an incorrect impression about that. When I asked Mr. Geithner if he, as head of the regulatory agency overseeing Goldman, had closely examined the firm’s hedges, he said he had not.

Mr. Geithner told me on Friday that he spoke with Mr. Viniar that day to ensure that Goldman’s hedges were adequate. And, notwithstanding the inspector general’s findings, he said he still believes Goldman was hedged.

Probing, in-depth analyses of regulatory responses to the financial meltdown are worth their weight in gold. Mr. Barofsky’s certainly is. Yet in its rush to put financial reforms into effect, Congress seems uninterested in investigating or grappling with truths contained in such reports — and until it does, our country’s economic and financial system will continue to be at risk."

Secretary Geithner's role in the bailout - Nov. '09

A RAY of sunlight broke through the Washington fog last week when Neil M. Barofsky, special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, published his office’s report on the government bailout last year of the American International Group.

It’s must reading for any taxpayer hoping to understand why the $182 billion “rescue” of what was once the world’s largest insurer still ranks as the most troubling episode of the financial disaster. And it couldn’t have come at a more pivotal moment.

Many in Washington want to give more regulatory power to the Federal Reserve Board, the banking regulator that orchestrated the A.I.G. bailout. Through this prism, the actions taken in the deal by Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, who was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at the time, grow curiouser and curiouser.

Of special note in the report: the Fed failed to develop a workable rescue plan when A.I.G., swamped by demands that it pay off huge insurance contracts that it couldn’t make good on as the economy tanked, began to sink. The report takes the Fed to task as refusing to use its power and prestige to wrestle concessions from A.I.G.’s big, sophisticated and well-heeled trading partners when the government itself had to pay off the contracts.

The Fed, under Mr. Geithner’s direction, caved in to A.I.G.’s counterparties, giving them 100 cents on the dollar for positions that would have been worth far less if A.I.G. had defaulted. Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Société Générale and other banks were in the group that got full value for their contracts when many others were accepting fire-sale prices.

On the question of whether this payout was what the report describes as a “backdoor bailout” of A.I.G.’s counterparties, Mr. Barofsky concluded: “The very design of the federal assistance to A.I.G. was that tens of billions of dollars of government money was funneled inexorably and directly to A.I.G.’s counterparties.” The report noted that this was money the banks might not otherwise have received had A.I.G. gone belly-up.

The report zaps Fed claims that identifying banks that benefited from taxpayer largess would have dire consequences. Fed officials had refused to disclose the identities of the counterparties or details of the payments, warning “that disclosure of the names would undermine A.I.G.’s stability, the privacy and business interests of the counterparties, and the stability of the markets,” the report said.

When the parties were named, “the sky did not fall,” the report said.

Finally, Mr. Barofsky pokes holes in arguments made repeatedly over the past 14 months by Goldman Sachs, A.I.G.’s largest trading partner and recipient of $12.9 billion in taxpayer money in the bailout, that it had faced no material risk in an A.I.G. default — that, in effect, had A.I.G. cratered, Goldman wouldn’t have suffered damage.

In short, there’s an awful lot jammed into this 36-page report.

Even before publishing this analysis, Mr. Barofsky had made a name for himself as one of the few truth tellers in Washington. While others estimate how much the taxpayer will make on various bailout programs, Mr. Barofsky has said that returns are extremely unlikely.

His office has also opened 65 cases to investigate potential fraud in various bailout programs. “When I first took office, I can’t tell you how many times I’d be having a sit-down and warning about potential fraud in the program and I would hear a response basically saying, ‘Oh, they’re bankers, and they wouldn’t put their reputations at risk by committing fraud,’ ” Mr. Barofsky told Bloomberg News a little over a week ago, adding: “I think we’ve done a good job of instilling a greater degree of skepticism that what comes from Wall Street isn’t necessarily the holy grail.”

Mr. Barofsky says the Fed failed to strong-arm the banks when it was negotiating payouts on the A.I.G. contracts. Rather than forcing the banks to accept a steep discount, or “haircut,” the Fed gave the banks $27 billion in taxpayer cash and allowed them to keep an additional $35 billion in collateral already posted by A.I.G. That amounted to about $62 billion for the contracts, which the report describes as “far above their market value at the time.”

Mr. Geithner, who oversaw those negotiations, said in an interview on Friday that the terms of the A.I.G. deal were the best he could get for taxpayers. He considered bailing out A.I.G. to be “offensive,’ he said, but deemed it necessary because a collapse would have undermined the financial system.

“We prevented A.I.G. from defaulting because our judgment was that the damage caused by failure would have been much more costly for the economy and the taxpayer,” Mr. Geithner said. “To most Americans, this looked like a deeply unfair outcome and they find it hard to see any direct benefit. But in fact, their savings are more valuable and secure today.”

The report said that while bailing out Goldman and other investment banks might not have been the intent behind the Fed’s A.I.G. rescue, it certainly was its effect. “By providing A.I.G. with the capital to make these payments, Federal Reserve officials provided A.I.G.’s counterparties with tens of billions of dollars they likely would have not otherwise received had A.I.G. gone into bankruptcy,” the report stated.

As Goldman prepares to pay out nearly $17 billion in bonuses to its employees in one of its most profitable years ever, it is important that an authoritative, independent voice like Mr. Barofsky’s reminds us how the taxpayer bailout of A.I.G. benefited Goldman.

A Goldman spokesman, Lucas van Praag, said that Goldman believed “that a collapse of A.I.G. would have had a very disruptive effect on the financial system and that everyone benefited from the rescue of A.I.G.” Regarding his firm’s own dealings with A.I.G., Mr. van Praag said that Goldman believed that its “exposure was close to zero” because it insulated itself from a downturn in A.I.G.’s fortunes through hedges and collateral it had already received. (Goldman’s complete response is here.)

The inspector noted in his report that Goldman made several arguments for why it believed it was not materially at risk in an A.I.G. default, but he is skeptical of the firm’s reasoning.

So is Janet Tavakoli, an expert in derivatives at Tavakoli Structured Finance, a consulting firm. “On Sept. 16, 2008, David Viniar, Goldman’s chief financial officer, said that whatever the outcome at A.I.G., the direct impact of Goldman’s credit exposure would be immaterial,” she said. “That was false. The report states that if the New York Fed had negotiated concessions, Goldman would have suffered a loss.”

The report says that Goldman would have had difficulty collecting on the hedges it used to insulate itself from an A.I.G. default because everyone’s wallets would have been closing in a panic.

“The prices of the collateralized debt obligations against which Goldman bought protection from A.I.G. were in sickening free fall, and the cost of replacing A.I.G.’s protection would have been sky-high,” she said. “Goldman must have known this, because it underwrote some of those value-destroying C.D.O.’s.”

Ms. Tavakoli argues that Goldman should refund the money it received in the bailout and take back the toxic C.D.O.’s now residing on the Fed’s books — and to do so before it begins showering bonuses on its taxpayer-protected employees.

“A.I.G., a sophisticated investor, foolishly took this risk,” she said. “But the U.S. taxpayer never agreed to be a victim of investments that should undergo a rigorous audit.”

Perhaps Mr. Barofsky will do that audit, and closely examine the securities that A.I.G. insured and that Wall Street titans like Goldman underwrote.

Goldman contends that it had a contractual right to the funds it received in the A.I.G. bailout and that the securities it returned to the government in the deal have increased in value.

For his part, Mr. Geithner disputed much of the inspector general’s findings. He also took issue with the conclusion that the Fed failed to develop a contingency plan for an A.I.G. rescue and largely depended on plans proffered by the banks themselves.

He said the report’s view that the Fed didn’t use its might to get better terms in the rescue was unfair. “This idea that we were unwilling to use leverage to get better terms misses the central reality of the situation — the choice we had was to let A.I.G. default or to prevent default,” he said. “We could not enforce haircuts without causing selective defaults and selective defaults would have brought down the company.”

Mr. Geithner also said that the “perception that this decision by the government, not my decision alone, was made to protect any individual investment bank is unfounded.”

Less than two weeks after the A.I.G. bailout, Mr. Geithner took the firm’s side when he criticized a Sept. 28, 2008, article in The New York Times that I wrote about the A.I.G. bailout. That article included Goldman’s statement that it wouldn’t have been affected by an A.I.G. collapse. Among other things, the article, like Mr. Barofsky’s report, questioned Goldman’s assertion.

According to an e-mail message that Goldman sent to the New York Fed at the time, Mr. Geithner talked about the article with Mr. Viniar, Goldman’s chief financial officer, before calling me. When Mr. Geithner called, he said that Goldman had no exposure to an A.I.G. collapse and that the article had left an incorrect impression about that. When I asked Mr. Geithner if he, as head of the regulatory agency overseeing Goldman, had closely examined the firm’s hedges, he said he had not.

Mr. Geithner told me on Friday that he spoke with Mr. Viniar that day to ensure that Goldman’s hedges were adequate. And, notwithstanding the inspector general’s findings, he said he still believes Goldman was hedged.

Probing, in-depth analyses of regulatory responses to the financial meltdown are worth their weight in gold. Mr. Barofsky’s certainly is. Yet in its rush to put financial reforms into effect, Congress seems uninterested in investigating or grappling with truths contained in such reports — and until it does, our country’s economic and financial system will continue to be at risk."

SIGTARP report scores Treasury ‘failure’ to halt AIG bonuses - Oct. '09


"Treasury officials could have avoided the explosive controversy over American International Group bonuses if they had carefully examined the company’s compensation system, government investigators reported.

The finding of a Treasury “failure” came in a report by the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which found that instead of exercising oversight, Treasury deferred to the Federal Reserve with which it had “limited communications.”

SIGTARP’s findings followed an extended inquiry into the extent of knowledge and oversight by the Federal Reserve and Treasury officials concerning AIG bonus plans including retention payments to keep staff of the AIG Financial Products unit.

AIGFP’s disastrous financial activities brought AIG to the brink of failure necessitating the multi-billion-dollar government bailout that included TARP monies.

The SIGTARP reported noted that “considerable Congressional and public outcry resulted from AIG making $168 million in retention and award payments to a large group of its employees in March 2009.”

In October 2008, after the government’s September arrangements for a bailout of the company, SIGTARP said Federal Reserve Bank of New York officials began looking at AIG companies decentralized compensation and bonus plans involving more than $1.75 billion

However, “although they learned of the size of the impending payments and their timing among other things, it is unclear whether FRBNY officials knew that thousands of dollars in payments would go to non-essential AIGFP support employees, such as kitchen and mailroom employees,” the report stated.

The SIGTARP investigation found that “Treasury invested $40 billion of taxpayer funds in AIG, designed AIG’s contractual executive compensation restrictions and helped manage the government’s majority stake in AIG for several months, all without having any detail information about the scope of AIG’s very substantial and very controversial executive compensation obligations.”

“Treasury’s failure to discover the scope and scale of AIG’s executive compensation obligations, in particular at AIGFP, potentially resulted in a missed opportunity to avoid the explosively controversial events and created considerable public and Congressional concern over the retention payments,” SIGTARP concluded.

The investigators said that while they saw no indication that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner “had personal knowledge of the AIGFP bonuses until March 10, 2009, three days before they were paid, this too suggests a failure of communication.”

The report said, “In light of the political sensitivities associated with the bailout of AIG, both as President of FRBNY and subsequently as Secretary of Treasury, it was necessary that Secretary Geithner be informed by his staff, in a timely manner, of such sensitive and significant information.”

When Treasury agreed to an additional $30 billion in support to AIG, it had a possible opportunity “to compel renegotiation of the AIGFP retention payments,” said the report.

The failure to adequately inform Mr. Geithner is “a failing at both FRBNY and Treasury to identify adequately the significance of an issue that has been identified as one…‘not easy for the Fed and Treasury to defend’ and to inform their leadership.”

The report recommended that Treasury take steps to work with Federal Reserve officials to understand AIG compensation and in general to take greater ownership and set policies for oversight.

Concerning the legality of the bonus distributions, the report found that the AIGFP retention payments were consistent with the law, and not governed by executive compensation restrictions that were placed on AIG executives as part of the government’s TARP assistance agreement.

“Several legal opinions concluded that the payments were contractually required,” SIGTARP found.

The report recounted that after public outcry AIG asked for a return of the payments, but “although AIG received a commitment from some employees to repay a portion of the retention awards, collection has been incomplete due to certain employees leaving AIG and reported concerns of employees who remain at AIG regarding the status of future payments under the AIGFP retention plan.”

The SIGTARP report was released in advance of a congressional hearing today by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which is looking into the bonuses at AIG.

Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y. the committee chairman in advance of the hearing released an advance text of opening remarks where he demanded, “What is the justification for giving bonuses to people who drove their own firms off a cliff and very nearly crashed the US economy? Wasn’t there something seriously out whack here?”

Mr. Towns noted that the SIGTARP “found that AIG’s compensation used to be weighted toward long-term incentives that were payable only at retirement, the classic “golden handcuffs. But in 2007, when losses began to mount, AIG’s new management decided to “update” their compensation plans. The golden handcuffs were replaced by golden envelopes. The era of instant gratification had arrived at AIG. Long-term incentives were rejected in favor of short-term gains.”

The congressman said that “what infuriates people is when bosses at bailed out companies – virtual wards of the state - continue to rake in millions – in effect, our millions. It just doesn’t seem right that the people who caused this tragedy should be so richly rewarded.

AIG’s payments probed by TARP IG - April '09

Source: AIG’s Bank Payments Probed by TARP Inspector General Bloomberg, April 7, 2009

"The Treasury’s chief watchdog for the U.S. financial rescue program is probing whether American International Group Inc. paid more than necessary to banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. after the insurer’s bailout.

Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, began an audit last week into whether there were attempts by New York-based AIG or the government to reduce the payments, according to an April 3 letter to Representative Elijah Cummings. The Maryland Democrat requested the probe last month along with 26 other members of Congress.

Lawmakers, frustrated with the cost of an AIG bailout that has expanded three times, have asked why about $50 billion was paid after the initial September rescue to banks that bought credit-default swaps from the firm. The audit will reveal who made “critical decisions” regarding the payments and provide an explanation for the actions, Barofsky said.

“To what extent did AIG pay counterparty claims at 100 percent of face value and was any attempt made to renegotiate and close out these claims with ‘haircuts?’” Barofsky wrote. “Questions concerning whether AIG paid more than necessary to counterparties and whether Treasury adequately monitored such payments are clearly relevant.”

AIG, under pressure to show how its $182.5 billion U.S. bailout was being spent, revealed on March 15 that banks including Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank AG and Societe Generale SA were top recipients.

Goldman Sachs

Barofsky will also examine if there was any review about the ability of banks “such as Goldman Sachs” to sustain losses on the swaps, he said in the letter.

Goldman Sachs had cash and liquid securities as collateral against its exposure to AIG and had bought credit-default swaps as protection where there was a difference in the collateral and what AIG owed, CEO Lloyd Blankfein said today at a conference sponsored by the Council of Institutional Investors.

“We spent over $100 million protecting our shareholders against a default by AIG,” Blankfein said in Washington. “So at the end of the day, we were sleeping very comfortably from a credit risk point of view with AIG.”

The lawmakers’ query concerns payments made to unwind some of AIG’s swaps, contracts similar to insurance that pay investors if bonds don’t pay as promised. AIG sold swaps to more than 20 U.S. and foreign banks. Christina Pretto, an AIG spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

“We would like to know if the AIG counterparty payments, as made, were in the best interests of the taxpayers,” lawmakers led by Cummings said in a March 25 letter to Barofsky."


"The special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program has initiated an audit of American International Group Inc.'s counterparty transactions in response to a congressional request.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and 26 colleagues in late March sent a letter to Neil M. Barofsky, the TARP special inspector general, seeking an audit.

"We would like to know if assessments were made of the health and total exposure risks of counterparties, such as Goldman Sachs (which, for example, claimed it had no material exposure to AIG), Barclays, Deutsche Bank and others," the letter stated. "If such assessments were made, by whom were they made and what were the criteria guiding the assessments?

"Further, was any attempt made to renegotiate and close out these contracts with 'haircuts?' If not, why not?...In essence, we would like to know if the AIG counterparty payments, as made, were in the best interests of the taxpayers who provided the funding and in the best interests of re-establishing long-term economic stability," the members of Congress wrote.

A haircut means payments to counterparties would be less than 100% of face value.

In a letter dated April 3, Mr. Barofsky said he was "pleased to report that, yesterday, my office initiated an audit based on the request."

He said one of the audit's objectives is to determine the extent to which AIG paid counterparty claims at 100% of face value "and was any attempt made to renegotiate and close out those claims with 'haircuts?"' The other objective is to determine to what extent "were assessments conducted of the health of and total exposure of risks to the counterparties."

Rep. Cummings responded with a statement saying he "was very pleased to receive a response from Mr. Barofsky informing me that his office has opened an audit to further investigate this situation.

"AIG has been the largest recipient of taxpayer assistance during the current economic crisis, and the American people now essentially own this company, holding nearly 80% of its equity," said Rep. Cummings in his statement. "As such, it is critical that we ensure that AIG is spending this money with taxpayers' best interests at heart. The American people deserve to know how their money is being spent."

A representative for AIG declined to comment."

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