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AIG Cancels Second Lux Retreat

Bad news for some at AIG: The big company-paid trip to the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, Calif., was canceled this morning.

The cancellation comes two days after a congressional committee blasted the company for paying $440,000 for a similar hotel retreat just a week after the federal government offered it an $85 billion bailout loan. The company paid $23,000 in spa treatments.

"They were getting their manicures, their pedicures, massages, their facials while the American people were paying their bills," thundered Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) at an oversight hearing Tuesday.

The company had been planning another similar retreat for about 150 employees and brokers. But in deference to the company's new rescuers -- the U.S. government -- the company decided to give it up.

The "cancellation is in recognition of the fact that we are in a liquidity squeeze and have to watch costs, and it's a recognition of the sensitivity to any expenditures in this environment," company spokesman Nick Ashooh said.

Ashooh did offer a defense of such gatherings.

"This is not to say all events will be canceled," Ashooh said. "These meetings are held at expensive places, but they aren't just expensive getaways."

At the meetings, he said, AIG employees inform agents and brokers of the company's product line.

-- Peter Whoriskey

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 9, 2008; 1:38 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  
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Comments

Give me a f*ing break! They may be trying to "sell" it, but the American public isn't buying it.

What a bunch of slimeballs.

Posted by: labman57 | October 9, 1908 2:01 PM | Report abuse

"At the meetings, he said, AIG employees inform agents and brokers of the company's product line."

Do they have the the product descriptions read aloud on the spa loudspeaker? Can't they just mail them a brochure?

Posted by: Old Yankee | October 9, 1908 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I've been working for the Government for the past decade, and we tend to be sent to one rung above the stingiest place possible for our conferences. But, trust me, a basic setup in a basic place is enough to get the required information about our 'product lines'.

Now that AIG is essentially a part of the Government, may I suggest that they be placed on the same par with normal Government employees? It might crimp their style (the Gov't doesn't pay for the spa part), but it might just make sense...

Posted by: Castor Troy | October 9, 1908 2:07 PM | Report abuse

"This is not to say all events will be canceled," Ashooh said. "These meetings are held at expensive places, but they aren't just expensive getaways."

In other words, the sky isn't blue, it's just , y'know, blue.

And we are all wondering how these shiatheads lost all their money. We need to send a few of these thieves to jail, and then, all of a sudden, crap like these getaways will suddenly disappear.

Posted by: WhizKidz | October 9, 1908 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Well, insurance companies ARE notoriously ignorant of the Internet and its many uses.

Perhaps they've never heard the term "Webinar"?

They STILL don't get it.

Obama/Biden 08!

Posted by: JBE | October 9, 1908 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Has anybody at AIG ever heard of Days Inn, or Comfort Inn, or Holiday Inn? Maybe their precious toes have never touched the hotel accommodations the average American can afford, but maybe they should start now. Hotels of every price point have conference facilities. When it's my tax dollars you are spending on your "retreats" you had better spend it wisely.

Posted by: Blondie50 | October 9, 1908 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"This is not to say all events will be canceled," Ashooh said. "These meetings are held at expensive places, but they aren't just expensive getaways."

Actually with so many other meeting options available, whether 'in person' or by teleconferencing, these retreats are nothing more than what Mr. Asooh denies they are - expensive getaways.

His comments are a red flag to the regulators and the Congress. AIG executives intend to operate with reckless abandon until somebody forces them to stop.

Now, Mr. Asooh about those country club and university club memberships which AIG pays for...and the in-house parties... and on and on...

Posted by: Nor'Easter | October 9, 1908 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Never again let it be said that the fat cats aren't willing to sacrifice.

Posted by: ctyank1 | October 9, 1908 2:22 PM | Report abuse

"This is not to say all events will be canceled," Ashooh said. "These meetings are held at expensive places, but they aren't just expensive getaways."

No, they are not JUSY expensive getaways. Some useful things I'm sure get done too, but that does NOT mean they are not expensive getaways. They are. As has been pointed out, the same useful things could be done at the local holiday inn conference center and thousands of companies do it every day.

Its time to come down to earth. The bubble has burst and the tax payers, who now own part of AIG, will not stand for their money being used that way. Better get used to it as government workers have, who meet at Days Inns and Holiday Inns on a $100/day per diem. I agree with the one poster who suggested placing government travel rules and rates on companies that accept government bailout money. Then they will have to choose between the high lifestyle they have been living or the survival of their companies. A hard choice I'm sure but the taxpayer must be protected and these high fliers must be brought down to earth, for Wall Street will not survive if these high rollers think the taxpayers are only bailing out their lifestyles. Its time these guys realized work needs to be done and roll up their sleaves and do what everyone else is doing, only use money for the important things.

Posted by: Fate | October 9, 1908 2:25 PM | Report abuse

We have meetings with our "service" members and we try to have them at nice places since they don't make much money and we like to splurge on them but we pay for them or get the hotels to give us a discount or a few in-kind rooms. The money does not come from our budget the state, federal government, etc. It is once a year any other information is disseminated by e-mail; brochure; etc. Anything to save money.

The saying, "The rich truly are different from you and I.", really holds true for this bunch.

Posted by: Economize | October 9, 1908 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what they'll be paying in attrition damages for this canceled event. Their previous event had been scaled back and they had to cough up $58,000 for attrition damages on that one.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 1908 2:40 PM | Report abuse

AIG, you are under the leadership of the TAXPAYERS and not under the stockholders. Us TAXPAYERS don't go to expensive getaways for manicures and spa. SO, get with the program and make money for US TAXPAYERS!!!!!!

Posted by: the Monk | October 9, 1908 2:46 PM | Report abuse

There are thousand of new graduates that can do a better job. Fire all those imbeci*les.

Posted by: mshal | October 9, 1908 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Just typical dumb a comments. These trips are for their top producers not executives. See how many top producers stick around to go to the days inn. Do you really think the best and the brightest will come to work for aig for peanuts and government bs?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 1908 2:49 PM | Report abuse

"These meetings are held at expensive places, but they aren't just expensive getaways."

At the meetings, he said, AIG employees inform agents and brokers of the company's product line."

Yo Ho Ho. And then the green fairy descends from the sky with the product line.
How about holding the meeting in a laundromat so they can all clean that "stuff off their cuffs" whilst getting all that improtant news.

Posted by: ralph | October 9, 1908 2:51 PM | Report abuse

You know, other companies hold retreats at Holiday Inns or other slightly more modest accommodations. I don't argue that retreats can be very valuable from a cross-fertilization and productivity perspective, but a retreat at the Ritz when your company is bankrupt and another at a spa would be fine were it on their own dimes, but the fact that tax payers are essentially paying the bill is absolutely inappropriate.

More inappropriate is the fact that in the hearing, none of them saw anything wrong with their behavior.

Posted by: MP | October 9, 1908 2:52 PM | Report abuse

no the taxpayer is not paying the bill, the taxpayer is loaning them noney while they sell businesses. People have so little concept of how business operates, just jealousy and envy.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 1908 2:55 PM | Report abuse

most gov employees add little value and are just part of a money sucking bureacracy, top producers bring millions to a company's bottom line. Holiday inn? sure maybe for the dmv drone.....

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 1908 3:00 PM | Report abuse

//At the meetings, he said, AIG employees inform agents and brokers of the company's product line.//

Obviously, in tough times, these things can be done in less posh places than Half Moon Bay, Calif.

Posted by: Sara B. | October 9, 1908 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Anonymous at 2:49 said "See how many top producers stick around to go to the days inn. Do you really think the best and the brightest will come to work for aig for peanuts and government bs?"

These top producers ought to feel incredibly lucky to have jobs in the first place.

Posted by: Scooter964 | October 9, 1908 3:09 PM | Report abuse

So what? I won't give them any special credit for doing what any decent person would do without even having had to think it over.

I still want our $400,000+ back.

These corporate executives are greedheads who have no qualms about wasting the American people's money when we need every cent put to good use on our wars and financial problems. They are so unpatriotic I think we should strip them of their citizenship and exile them.

Posted by: Edward Gutting | October 9, 1908 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Anonymous at 2:55 said "no the taxpayer is not paying the bill, the taxpayer is loaning them noney while they sell businesses."

C'mon, nobody is that naive. They've already burned through $61B of the first $85B they were lent -- and that was just a couple of weeks ago. Do you honestly believe that AIG has any intention of paying any of this money back?

Posted by: Scooter964 | October 9, 1908 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Newsfash AIG: Marriott hotels and Holiday Inns have conference rooms for more than 150 people.

Use 'em.

Posted by: Dan | October 9, 1908 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Top producers my ***. These companies have been riddled with such incompetence that we are now all paying the bill. I don't care how much money you are making, if you work for AIG and did not leave a corrupt, immoral, and about-to-go-belly-up employer, then you are so stupid that you don't deserve any perks.

Fire 'em all. America has plenty of great talent that has not been corrupted by Wall Street. Make room to bring it in to AIG.

Posted by: Cincinnatus | October 9, 1908 3:17 PM | Report abuse

That is all fine, well, and good!!!! Are they giving us (the american people) our damn money back for the previous one!!!!!

Posted by: golfgurl | October 9, 1908 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Even now, the poobahs at AIG see nothing wrong in spending our tax dollars to assure their comfort. Perhaps the old 2 X4 up side of the head (with apologies to the mules who have suffered similar fates) would get their attention. Perhaps they got their MBAs the way Bush did: no work, all play.

Posted by: Diogenes | October 9, 1908 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Just typical dumb a comments. These trips are for their top producers not executives. See how many top producers stick around to go to the days inn. Do you really think the best and the brightest will come to work for aig for peanuts and government bs?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 2008 2:49 PM

**************
Just ask all the folks laid off in this economy if they would forgo a paycheck for a spa visit...Wake up! Did your pedicure just get canceled? Or are your priorities just skewed..or screwed.

Posted by: cab50151 | October 9, 1908 3:28 PM | Report abuse

C'mon, nobody is that naive. They've already burned through $61B of the first $85B they were lent -- and that was just a couple of weeks ago. Do you honestly believe that AIG has any intention of paying any of this money back

you truly are naive, aig will have to pay every nickel back. As far as a top producer lucky to have ajob, the people lucky to have a job are the government union bureacrats. Top producers can work anywhere

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 1908 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Anonymous at 3:30, I respectfully disagree. AIG will do just what Lehman did - file for bankruptcy, keeping these loans and any future loans tied up in court for years to come, then paying back probably no more than a nickel on the dollar.

As for being lucky to have a job, in this economy with jobs being shed faster than ever, everybody who has a job these days should consider themselves lucky to have it.

Posted by: Scooter964 | October 9, 1908 3:41 PM | Report abuse

As the government is now the major share holder by virtue of the size of its investment in the company, it is the duty of the government to fire all the individuals who went to this gathering. Because of their major failure, all the top officers of all the companies accepting bailouts, must be fired immediately, and sent away without golden parachutes, stock options, bonuses, etc. by classifying their previous performance in the company as being so inept as to cause the failure of the company.

Here in France it is called "faute grave", a grave fault, and you are just out on your bottom Mister, with no one to notice your crocodile tears. I am mystified as to why the resignation of all the top officers in all of these companies is not required. They did bad work. They are unqualified for their positions. If my pipes still leak after the plumber has "fixed" them, I don't pay the rotter. Fire them and indict them for fraud, but DON'T leave them in these companies to do more damage. And if I ran the show, I would ban them all from every working in any finance job ever again. Give 'em a shovel and a ditch to dig. Let them work like poor people have had to work all their miserable and unjust lives, beneath the arrogant gaze of these incompetent graduates of all the best schools in the land. AND I would close all the elite schools as well, as a punishment for teaching their students to lie, cheat, steal, and trick they way through life. I would then send all the Deans of those universities to dig ditches as well. What greater educational crime is there than to teach privilege and amorality and declare that these are right and proper behavior.

Posted by: Victor Compton | October 9, 1908 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Either you're naive enough to believe that the taxpayers aren't footing the bill for this, or you are a business owner that is the perfect example of the failure of this economy. There is no jealousy or envy, just contempt for business' complete lack of ethics. This is the final nail in the coffin of deregulation, IT DOES NOT WORK.

Posted by: Tom | October 9, 1908 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Victor Compton at 3:42, your post reminded me of the movie "Coming to America." At the end of "Trading Places" Winthorp and Valentine successfully enact a scheme to financially ruin the Duke brothers. In "Coming to America" Prince Akeem and Semmi walk past these two homeless guys wearing rags, sleeping on a steam grate. Akeem throws them some money, and we realize the two homeless guys are the Duke brothers.

If only all unethical CEOs (and Congresspeople) were to find themselves in such similar circumstances.

Posted by: Scooter964 | October 9, 1908 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Anyone knows where the next AIG's party being hold at? I would like to join their party.

Posted by: party animal | October 9, 1908 3:54 PM | Report abuse

. This is the final nail in the coffin of deregulation, IT DOES NOT WORK.

oh yes becuase filling out triplicate paperwork to be filed in washington creates more wealth. do any of you nitwits actually run businesses?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 1908 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Oh great we are getting advice from the french, the vanguard of capitalism, home of the 35 hour work week and strikes every few days. sigh

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 1908 4:24 PM | Report abuse

These trips are for their top producers not executives. See how many top producers stick around to go to the days inn. Do you really think the best and the brightest will come to work for aig for peanuts and government bs?

Top producers? Yes selling snake oil. AIG was one of the keystones holding the house of cards together with s--- Pampered, just as the many CEOs receiving golden parachutes. You have no shame, feel no responsibility, no remorse for your share of bringing the economy to it's knees. Be damned and you should be fired along with the the CEOs

Posted by: bill s | October 9, 1908 5:29 PM | Report abuse

AIG Memo:
"In lieu of the Ritz Carlton retreat, there are McDonald's cheeseburgers piled on the conference table in the board room. Get one, buy your own soda and get back to work. The CEO and board members will hand out napkins, because they're eating at home. -Sincerely, The American People"

Posted by: No Mercy | October 9, 1908 5:37 PM | Report abuse

oh yes becuase filling out triplicate paperwork to be filed in washington creates more wealth. do any of you nitwits actually run businesses?


As a matter of fact I am a small business owner, and unlike corporate America, I take care of my employees, their paychecks and benefits come before mine. Deregulation of business by the Republicans and their lobbyists is the reason that all of these spoiled rotten CEO's have been able to do away with any kind of ethics and responsibility, and engage in practices that have now threatened our entire nation's economy. Truly free markets don't work because there are no safeguards against this kind of pure greed. Oversight and enforced responsibility would have prevented these rich scumbags from getting richer while their companies tanked. They should be forced to liquidate all of their personal assets to pay back the investors they cheated. There's no forms in triplicate, because the goverment shouldn't run the companies, just tell them what despicable practices they cannot engage in.

Posted by: Tom | October 9, 1908 6:30 PM | Report abuse

That kinds of events are so ordinary for an insurance company. Agents earn no salary but only commission. Top producers were also rewarded with these free trip for motivation.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 1908 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Top producers? Yes selling snake oil. AIG was one of the keystones holding the house of cards together with s--- Pampered, just as the many CEOs receiving golden parachutes. You have no shame, feel no responsibility, no remorse for your share of bringing the economy to it's knees. Be damned and you should be fired along with the the CEOs

Moron, it was for their top producing salespeople in divisions that were highly profitable. What drivel you find on these blogs. Save your soapbox for your wife as you watch cnbc and eat cheetos.

--------

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 1908 10:07 AM | Report abuse

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