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WASHINGTON–American International Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Edward Liddy said today he agreed to pay bonuses to employees at its troubled Financial Products unit only because “I am trying to prevent an uncontrolled collapse of that business.”

He also said he understood the reason for public anger at the bonus payments after the government agreed to provide AIG with $173 billion in cash to keep it solvent, but asked for patience and said the only way for the government to get its money back was to continue the course he has undertaken at AIG.

He also said AIG is working with federal agencies and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to get as many employees as possible who received the payments to return them.

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