Benmosche apologises over ‘pitchfork and hangman nooses’ comment

Robert Benmosche

AIG chief executive Robert Benmosche has come under fire for comparing criticism of AIG bonuses to racist lynchings.

Benmosche said that the US government was unfair to campaign against the partial bonuses lined up for hundreds of staff in AIG’s financial products division after the company’s rescue package.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Benmosche said that “less than ten” AIG staff were responsible for the bad trades, and that the bonuses were part of core remuneration packages.

He added that the outcry at the bonuses was “intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitchforks and their hangman nooses, and all that – sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong.”

The US Democrat politician Elijah Cummings called on Benmosche to resign, and said he had shown a “fundamental inability to lead” AIG.

Benmosche later apologised for his comments.