Who’s Behind the Financial Meltdown?

Published — May 6, 2009 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

No. 18 of The Subprime 25: American General Finance Inc./American International Group Inc. (AIG)


Total high-interest loans 2005-2007:

At least $21.8 billion ***

Federal bailout money received:

The government has thus far approved for AIG about $187 billion in various forms of federal loans, guarantees, and direct investments.

Company overview

  • Status: ACTIVE. Wilmington’s wholesale lending operation was shut down in June of 2008. American General is still lending.
  • History: Founded in 1920 as Interstate Finance Corp. to underwrite sales of Inland Motor Truck vehicles, American General Finance has been making loans for more than 80 years. In August 2001, American International Group (AIG) acquired the company. AIG is known as an insurance company and dealer in complex credit derivatives, but it has also been a steady originator of subprime mortgages.
  • Parent/subsidiary companies: Since 2001, American General Finance has been owned by American International Group (AIG). In addition, Wilmington Finance Inc. and MorEquity were both subprime lending subsidiaries of AIG.
  • CEO: CEO (AIG): Maurice “Hank” Greenberg was CEO for more than 35 years prior to his March 2005 resignation. He was replaced by Martin Sullivan, who left in June 2008. Sullivan’s successor, Robert Willumstad, headed the company for just three months before he was replaced by current CEO Edward Liddy (still in that position as of May 2009).
    • Most recent salary: Sullivan 2007 salary: $1,000,000; total compensation,$14,330,736
  • Location: Evansville, Indiana
  • Year founded: 1920
  • Backers: In addition to primary support from AIG, subprime loans originated by Wilmington Finance were securitized by Wall Street investment banks such as Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch.

Lobbying overview

  • Lobbying: 1999-2008: AIG and its subsidiaries reported $69,837,300 in lobbying expenditures.**
  • Total Contributions: At least $3,231,689 *
  • Top Recipients:
    1. Republican National Committee $326,468
    2. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee $257,500
    3. National Republican Congressional Committee $132,290
    4. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee $92,940
    5. National Republican Senatorial Committee $69,100


  • Settlements:
    • Wilmington Finance Inc. and other AIG subsidiaries agreed in 2007 to provide $128 million in restitution after the Office of Thrift Supervision found that WFI had failed to consider the creditworthiness of borrowers and had charged large broker and lender fees. AIG also agreed to donate $15 million to “financial literacy and credit counseling.”

** Lobbying totals calculated by the Center for Public Integrity using data from the Senate Office of Public Records.

* Contribution grand total includes employee and soft money contributions from the lender and its subsidiaries. Top recipient totals include employee and political action committee contributions. Data provided by CQ Money Line, analysis by the Center for Public Integrity.

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