American International Group Inc, which has received $180 billion in U.S. taxpayer money, was subpoenaed on Thursday by New York's top legal officer for information on its credit default swaps contracts, sources familiar with the matter said.
Details were being sought on the contracts going back seven months, including those that have been wound down by AIG's Financial Products unit and those that have not, involving billions of dollars, one of the sources said.
A spokesman for AIG declined to comment.
The request stems from New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's investigation into $165 million paid to employees at the unit in retention bonuses this month.
On Thursday, Cuomo did not comment on the subpoena, but he said in a statement that "CDS contracts were at the heart of AIG's meltdown.
"The question is whether the contracts are being wound down properly and efficiently or whether they have become a vehicle for funneling billions in taxpayers dollars to capitalize banks all over the world."
Goldman Sachs and major European banks, including Deutsche Bank, France's Societe Generale and the UK's Barclays, were major beneficiaries of more than $90 billion of money paid out by AIG in the first three-and-a-half months after its bailout by the U.S. government last September.
AIG has said it needed to keep certain employees to help unwind complex derivatives partly blamed for its troubles. Fifteen of the top 20 bonus earners have paid back their bonuses, Cuomo said on March 23.
AIG said on Thursday two top managers in Paris have resigned but will remain in place to oversee an "orderly transition," reducing the risk of default on derivatives contracts.
Cuomo's office has been looking into various aspects of the financial industry meltdown since last September, including whether the credit default swaps (CDS) market was manipulated by short sellers spreading false rumors.
At the time AIG did provide the attorney general's office with documents on CDS, another source familiar with the matter said.
The sources requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the issue.
The CDS market is largely unregulated and opaque, comprised of privately negotiated contracts among fund managers and broker-dealers. They may be used for emerging market bonds, mortgage backed securities, corporate bonds and local government bonds.