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Ex-AIG CEO Faces Hammer On Hill

The man who built failed insurer American International Group Inc. from a startup to an industry leader is bracing for tough questioning on Capitol Hill.

Maurice "Hank" Greenberg is appearing before the House Oversight Committee. In prepared testimony, he criticizes the government's bailout of AIG, which so far has cost $182 billion.

Greenberg is expected to tell the panel he bears no responsibility for AIG's downfall, despite his having served as chief executive for nearly four decades, until March 2005.

Greenberg's testimony is defensive of AIG's leadership, which has come under fire for granting millions in bonuses after the bailout. But he says the company is a "steadily diminishing asset."

Meanwhile, the House took another, albeit weaker, stab at trying to keep bailed-out financial institutions from paying their employees hefty bonuses after lawmakers had second thoughts about their vote two weeks ago to tax the bonuses away.

A new bill, which passed 247-171 on Wednesday, would allow the bonuses if the Treasury Department and financial regulators determine they are not "unreasonable or excessive."

"No one has the right to get rich off taxpayer money" and "no one should get rich off abject failure," said Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., a co-sponsor of the bill.

While other lawmakers agreed, they struggled to find consensus on an issue that has roiled voters.

Earlier in the day, Democrats failed to ram through a separate, more punitive measure. That bill, championed by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., would have let the attorney general sue employees to return excessive compensation, even if the money was promised in a contract.

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