WASHINGTON The head of AIG told the U.S. Congress on Wednesday he was reluctant to reveal the names of employees who took home bonuses because the troubled insurer has been receiving death threats.
"All the executives and their families should be executed with piano wire around their necks," Edward Liddy, chief executive of American International Group Inc, read from one note.
"I'm looking for all the CEOs' names, kids, where they live, etc.," he read from another.
Liddy, who took over at AIG in September, was testifying before a congressional subcommittee investigating why the giant insurer paid out $165 million in bonuses after getting billions of dollars in a federal bailout.
"I'm just really concerned about the safety of our people," Liddy said of his willingness to release the names of the bonus recipients.
Barney Frank, chairman of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, said their identities should be made public anyway.
"If we give in to these kind of threats we would never get information made public about a lot of things," he said, adding he would talk with law enforcement officials to determine the severity of the threats.
Frank called the threats "despicable" and said law enforcement officials should track down those who make them.
But he said the committee would move to issue a subpoena to find out who got the bonuses if AIG does not provide the names voluntarily.
AIG has drawn intense fire from the public, politicians and President Barack Obama for accepting up to $180 billion in government aid and then handing out the bonuses.
The rhetoric in Congress took on a macabre tone on Monday when Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, he would feel better if AIG's top managers were to "take that deep bow and say 'I'm sorry' and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide."
On Tuesday, he pulled back.
"What I'm expressing here obviously is not that I want people to commit suicide," Grassley said. "But I do feel very strongly that we have not had statements of apology."
(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by John O'Callaghan)