To AIG Executive: Who is your boss?

by Brian Johnson on March 29, 2009

BossHaving read in the NY Times the open letter of resignation sent by Jake DeSantis, Vice President of AIG’s financial products unit, we would like first to extend our sympathy to Mr. DeSantis for having borne some of the brunt from his company’s hardships. We would also like to acknowledge and recognize Mr. DeSantis for essentially not taking a salary as he worked towards putting this company back together.

That said, we couldn’t help but notice that Mr. DeSantis addressed his letter to the wrong person. Clearly, as it is a letter of resignation it should be officially addressed to AIG CEO Mr. Liddy. However, Mr. DeSantis does not seem to be aware that his letter ought to at least extend an explanation to the owners of the company particularly since it was the owners who demanded that his bonus, and the bonuses of his coworkers, be returned. As taxpayers, you and I own 80% of AIG. As taxpayers, you and I demanded that Mr. DeSantis return the money.

If Mr. DeSantis wants his letter to carry more weight with the people who own the company he works for then perhaps he should explain what actual value he has created in the past year that makes him deserve a $1.5MM bonus. Instead, he concentrates on promises made by another employee of the taxpayers without ever addressing the desires, the needs, and the demands of the owners who matter. What this letter demonstrates to me is that executives in public companies still do not get that a company is ultimatelly controlled by its shareholders and not by the CEO. One more reason of why corporate governance in public companies is broken.

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