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AIG Party Watch: This time a resort in Phoenix

AIG executives may not be making better business decisions while they're asking the federal government for more money, but at least they're getting sneakier! An ABC News investigation has revealed that a conference last week at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort in Phoenix was another chance for AIG executives to frolic (on the taxpayers' dime).

The conference was called the Asset Management Conference, and hotel personnel were ordered to not mention AIG either verbally or on signage. An AIG spokesperson told ABC News that there was no AIG signage because they wanted to lower the company's profile. As consumers, I think we're a little too smart to believe that. Something tells me that the company executives knew they'd get heat for another luxury trip.

There were 150 independent financial planners present at the conference, in addition to several top AIG executives. Yet hidden cameras caught top executives not attending sessions, and also captured images of limousines, fancy cocktail parties, and expensive dinners out.

US Financial Crises

When the stock markets first reopened after the 9/11 attacks, how many points did the Dow Jones fall?

  • 584
  • 684
  • 784

In which year did Black Monday take place?

  • 1982
  • 1987
  • 1991

The Dow dropped by what percentage on Black Monday?

  • Nearly 3 percent
  • Nearly 13 percent
  • Nearly 23 percent

How much did the U.S. government pay for the bailout during the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s?

  • $125 billion
  • $325 billion

When did the Great Depression start?

  • 1929
  • 1933
  • 1939

Many economists blame the Smoot-Hawley act for the severity of the Great Depression.

  • True
  • False

About how many years did the Depression last in the U.S.?

  • 5 years
  • 10 years

Probably the biggest financial faux pas was booking former NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw to speak at the event, at a fee of $40,000. AIG says that a sponsor was paying the fee, but they canceled his appearance. In total, AIG has said that the conference was to cost $343,000, with $320,000 of that covered by sponsor fees.

I understand the sponsorship dollars, and the attendance of the independent agents (who aren't on AIG's payroll, but are independents who only get paid when they sell something), and the continuing education aspect (many professions required continuing education). I just can't help but feel that these events at expensive resorts are in poor taste... Especially as the federal money demanded by AIG has almost doubled since the original $85 billion plan was announced. The tab for AIG bailout dollars is now up to $150 billion.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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