Top executives at troubled insurer American International Group have been struggling financially after taking personal losses in the wake of the near-collapse of the company last year, AIG's chief executive Robert Benmosche told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.

The losses were incurred when the executives' cash bonuses were cut and unvested stock salary and stock options that were previously earned were rendered almost worthless after AIG's near-failure in September 2008, the paper said.

Benmosche told the paper that 10 people reporting directly to him lost a combined $168 million in prior years' pay since the insurer was bailed out by the U.S. government last year.

Five other employees at the company's financial-products division, who are unwinding its derivative trades, lost $88 million in prior pay, the paper cited Benmosche as saying.

Many people think there was no penalty for the executives at AIG when it did poorly and that they need longer-term compensation so they don't benefit from taking inordinate amounts of risk, Benmosche told the paper.

But if you look at where they've been this year, they've been pretty much wiped out, the paper quoted Benmosche as saying. And we have to recognize that we're not 100 percent sure about what the value of AIG will be in the future.

In a separate interview with the Financial Times, Benmosche said it would take more than two years for the insurer to pay back the money it owes to U.S. taxpayers.

The more time we use the greater the probability we will pay back all of (the aid), Benmosche told the FT. Our goal is to pay back all of it.

(Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)