AIG retreat “despicable”

The White House said on Wednesday it was “despicable” that American International Group Inc. executives spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a posh California retreat just days after getting a federal bailout.

Lawmakers investigating the meltdown of AIG said the retreat didn’t include anyone from the financial products division that nearly drove the company under, but they were still enraged that executives of AIG’s main U.S. life insurance subsidiary spent $440,000 on the retreat, complete with spa treatments, banquets and golf outings.

“It’s pretty despicable,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said.

AIG sent its executives to the coastal St. Regis resort south of Los Angeles even as the company tapped into an $85 billion loan from the government that it needed to stave off bankruptcy. The resort tab included $23,380 worth of spa treatments for AIG employees, according to invoices the resort turned over to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“The president did not want to move forward on this rescue package to help anybody in the top positions on Wall Street,” Perino said. “He was concerned about everyday people like you and me. … He didn’t do that to help top executives and certainly not to help executives go to a spa.”

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President George W. Bush, meanwhile, telephoned more foreign leaders Wednesday to discuss the global financial crisis. He talked with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil. White House press secretary Dana Perino said Bush reviewed U.S. efforts to bring stability to the markets and stressed the importance of all countries working together to coordinate actions.

On Tuesday, Bush talked with the leaders of France, Britain and Italy.

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