From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citigroup
|Founded||New York City, New York (1812)|
|Headquarters||New York City, New York, U.S.|
Richard D. Parsons
Global wealth management
|Revenue||US$ 86.601 billion (2010)|
|Operating income||US$ 10.951 billion (2010)|
|Profit||US$ 10.602 billion (2010)|
|Total assets||US$ 1.914 trillion (2010)|
|Total equity||US$ 163.5 billion (2010)|
Citigroup Inc. (branded Citi) (NYSE: C, TYO: 8710) is an American multinational financial services company based in New York City. Citigroup was formed from one of the world's largest mergers in history by combining the banking giant Citicorp and financial conglomerate Travelers Group on April 7, 1998.
Citigroup Inc. has the world's largest financial services network, spanning 140 countries with approximately 16,000 offices worldwide. The company employs approximately 260,000 staff around the world, and holds over 200 million customer accounts in more than 140 countries. It is a primary dealer in US Treasury securities.
Citigroup suffered huge losses during the global financial crisis of 2008 and was rescued in November 2008 in a massive bailout by the U.S. government. Its largest shareholders include funds from the Middle East and Singapore. On February 27, 2009, Citigroup announced that the United States government would take a 36% equity stake in the company by converting $25 billion in emergency aid into common shares; the stake was reduced to 27% after Citigroup sold $21 billion of common shares and equity in the largest single share sale in US history, surpassing Bank of America's $19 billion share sale one month prior.
Citigroup was formed on October 9, 1998, following the $140 billion merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group to create the world's largest financial services organization. The history of the company is, thus, divided into the workings of several firms that over time amalgamated into Citicorp, a multinational banking corporation operating in more than 100 countries; or Travelers Group, whose businesses covered credit services, consumer finance, brokerage, and insurance. As such, the company history dates back to the founding of: the City Bank of New York (later Citibank) in 1812; Bank Handlowy in 1870; Smith Barney in 1873, Banamex in 1884; Salomon Brothers in 1910.
The history begins with the City Bank of New York, which was chartered by New York State on June 16, 1812, with $2 million of capital. Serving a group of New York merchants, the bank opened for business on September 14 of that year, and Samuel Osgood was elected as the first President of the company. The company's name was changed to The National City Bank of New York in 1865 after it joined the new U.S. national banking system, and it became the largest American bank by 1895. It became the first contributor to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 1913, and the following year it inaugurated the first overseas branch of a U.S. bank in Buenos Aires, although the bank had, since the mid-nineteenth century, been active in plantation economies, such as the Cuban sugar industry. The 1918 purchase of U.S. overseas bank International Banking Corporation helped it become the first American bank to surpass $1 billion in assets, and it became the largest commercial bank in the world in 1929. As it grew, the bank became a leading innovator in financial services, becoming the first major U.S. bank to offer compound interest on savings (1921); unsecured personal loans (1928); customer checking accounts (1936) and the negotiable certificate of deposit (1961).
The bank changed its name to The First National City Bank of New York in 1955, which was shortened in 1962 to First National City Bank on the 150th anniversary of the company's foundation. The company organically entered the leasing and credit card sectors, and its introduction of USD certificates of deposit in London marked the first new negotiable instrument in market since 1888. Later to become MasterCard, the bank introduced its First National City Charge Service credit card – popularly known as the "Everything card" – in 1967.
In 1976, under the leadership of CEO Walter B. Wriston, First National City Bank (and its holding company First National City Corporation) was renamed as Citibank, N.A. (and Citicorp, respectively). Shortly afterward, the bank launched the Citicard, which pioneered the use of 24-hour ATMs. As the bank's expansion continued, the Narre Warren-Caroline Springs credit card company was purchased in 1981. John S. Reed was elected CEO in 1984, and Citi became a founding member of the CHAPS clearing house in London. Under his leadership, the next 14 years would see Citibank become the largest bank in the United States, the largest issuer of credit cards and charge cards in the world, and expand its global reach to over 90 countries.
Travelers Group, at the time of merger, was a diverse group of financial concerns that had been brought together under CEO Sandy Weill. Its roots came from Commercial Credit, a subsidiary of Control Data Corporation that was taken private by Weill in November 1986 after taking charge of the company earlier that year. Two years later, Weill mastered the buyout of Primerica – a conglomerate that had already bought life insurer A L Williams as well as stock broker Smith Barney. The new company took the Primerica name, and employed a "cross-selling" strategy such that each of the entities within the parent company aimed to sell each other's services. Its non-financial businesses were spun-off.
In September 1992, Travelers Insurance, which had suffered from poor real estate investments and sustained significant losses in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, formed a strategic alliance with Primerica that would lead to its amalgamation into a single company in December 1993. With the acquisition, the group became Travelers Inc. Property & casualty and life & annuities underwriting capabilities were added to the business. Meanwhile, the distinctive Travelers red umbrella logo, which was also acquired in the deal, was applied to all the businesses within the newly named organization. During this period, Travelers acquired Shearson Lehman – a retail brokerage and asset management firm that was headed by Weill until 1985 – and merged it with Smith Barney.
Finally, in November 1997, Travelers Group (which had been renamed again in April 1995 when they merged with Aetna Property and Casualty, Inc.), made the $9 billion deal to purchase Salomon Brothers, a major bond dealer and bulge bracket investment bank. This deal complemented Travelers/Smith Barney well as Salomon was focused on fixed-income and institutional clients whereas Smith Barney was strong in equities and retail. Salomon Brothers absorbed Smith Barney into the new securities unit termed Salomon Smith Barney; a year later, the division incorporated Citicorp's former securities operations as well. The Salomon Smith Barney name was ultimately abandoned in October 2003 after a series of financial scandals that tarnished the bank's reputation.
Citicorp and Travelers merger
On April 6, 1998, the merger between Citicorp and Travelers Group was announced to the world, creating a $140 billion firm with assets of almost $700 billion. The deal would enable Travelers to market mutual funds and insurance to Citicorp's retail customers while giving the banking divisions access to an expanded client base of investors and insurance buyers.
Although presented as a merger, the deal was actually more like a stock swap, with Travelers Group purchasing the entirety of Citicorp shares for $70 billion, and issuing 2.5 new Citigroup shares for each Citicorp share. Through this mechanism, existing shareholders of each company owned about half of the new firm. While the new company maintained Citicorp's "Citi" brand in its name, it adopted Travelers' distinctive "red umbrella" as the new corporate logo, which was used until 2007.
The chairmen of both parent companies, John Reed and Sandy Weill respectively, were announced as co-chairmen and co-CEOs of the new company, Citigroup, Inc., although the vast difference in management styles between the two immediately presented question marks over the wisdom of such a setup.
The remaining provisions of the Glass–Steagall Act – enacted following the Great Depression – forbade banks to merge with insurance underwriters, and meant Citigroup had between two and five years to divest any prohibited assets. However, Weill stated at the time of the merger that they believed "that over that time the legislation will change...we have had enough discussions to believe this will not be a problem". Indeed, the passing of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in November 1999 vindicated Reed and Weill's views, opening the door to financial services conglomerates offering a mix of commercial banking, investment banking, insurance underwriting and brokerage.
Joe Plumeri headed the integration of the consumer businesses of Travelers Group and Citicorp after the merger, and was appointed CEO of Citibank North America by Weill and Reed. He oversaw its network of 450 retail branches. J. Paul Newsome, an analyst with CIBC Oppenheimer, said: "He's not the spit-and-polish executive many people expected. He's rough on the edges. But Citibank knows the bank as an institution is in trouble-it can't get away anymore with passive selling-and Plumeri has all the passion to throw a glass of cold water on the bank." It was conjectured that he might become a leading contender to run all of Citigroup when Weill and Reed stepped down, if he were to effect a big, noticeable victory at Citibank. In that position, Plumeri boosted the unit's earnings from $108 million to $415 million in one year, an increase of nearly 400%. He unexpectedly retired from Citibank, however, in January 2000.
In 2000, Citigroup acquired Associates First Capital Corporation, which, until 1989, had been owned by Gulf+Western (now part of National Amusements). The Associates was widely criticized for predatory lending practices and Citi eventually settled with the Federal Trade Commission by agreeing to pay $240 million to customers who had been victims of a variety of predatory practices, including "flipping" mortgages, "packing" mortgages with optional credit insurance, and deceptive marketing practices.
Travelers spin off
The company spun off its Travelers Property and Casualty insurance underwriting business in 2002. The spin off was prompted by the insurance unit's drag on Citigroup stock price because Traveler's earnings were more seasonal and vulnerable to large disasters, particularly the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in downtown New York City. It was also difficult to sell this kind of insurance directly to customers since most industrial customers are accustomed to purchasing insurance through a broker.
The Travelers Property Casualty Corporation merged with The St. Paul Companies Inc. in 2004 forming The St. Paul Travelers Companies. Citigroup retained the life insurance and annuities underwriting business; however, it sold those businesses to MetLife in 2005. Citigroup still heavily sells all forms of insurance, but it no longer underwrites insurance.
In spite of their divesting Travelers Insurance, Citigroup retained Travelers' signature red umbrella logo as its own until February 2007, when Citigroup agreed to sell the logo back to St. Paul Travelers, which renamed itself Travelers Companies. Citigroup also decided to adopt the corporate brand "Citi" for itself and virtually all its subsidiaries, except Primerica and Banamex.
Subprime mortgage crisis
Heavy exposure to troubled mortgages in the form of Collateralized debt obligation (CDO's), compounded by poor risk management led Citigroup into trouble as the subprime mortgage crisis worsened in 2008. The company had used elaborate mathematical risk models which looked at mortgages in particular geographical areas, but never included the possibility of a national housing downturn, or the prospect that millions of mortgage holders would default on their mortgages. Indeed, trading head Thomas Maheras was close friends with senior risk officer David Bushnell, which undermined risk oversight. As Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin was said to be influential in lifting the regulations that allowed Travelers and Citicorp to merge in 1998. Then on the board of directors of Citigroup, Rubin and Charles Prince were said to be influential in pushing the company towards MBS and CDOs in the subprime mortgage market.
As the crisis began to unfold, Citigroup announced on April 11, 2007, that it would eliminate 17,000 jobs, or about 5 percent of its workforce, in a broad restructuring designed to cut costs and bolster its long underperforming stock. Even after securities and brokerage firm Bear Stearns ran into serious trouble in summer 2007, Citigroup decided the possibility of trouble with its CDO's was so tiny (less than 1/100 of 1%) that they excluded them from their risk analysis. With the crisis worsening, Citigroup announced on January 7, 2008 that it was considering cutting another 5 percent to 10 percent of its work force, which totaled 327,000.
Over the past several decades, the United States government has engineered at least four different rescues of the institution now known as Citigroup. During the most recent tax-payer funded rescue, by November 2008, Citigroup was insolvent, despite its receipt of $25 billion in federal TARP bailout money, and on November 17, 2008, Citigroup announced plans for about 52,000 new job cuts, on top of 23,000 cuts already made during 2008 in a huge job cull resulting from four quarters of consecutive losses and reports that it was unlikely to be in profit again before 2010. Many senior executives were fired but Wall Street responded by dropping its stock market value to $6 billion, down from $300 billion two years prior. As a result, Citigroup and Federal regulators negotiated a plan to stabilize the company and forestall a further deterioration in the company's value. The arrangement calls for the government to back about $306 billion in loans and securities and directly invest about $20 billion in the company. The assets remain on Citigroup's balance sheet; the technical term for this arrangement is ring fencing. In a New York Times op-ed, Michael Lewis And David Einhorn described the $306 billion guarantee as "an undisguised gift" without any real crisis motivating it. The plan was approved late in the evening on November 23, 2008. A joint statement by the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp announced: "With these transactions, the U.S. government is taking the actions necessary to strengthen the financial system and protect U.S. taxpayers and the U.S. economy."
Citigroup in late 2008 held $20 billion of mortgage-linked securities, most of which have been marked down to between 21 cents and 41 cents on the dollar, and has billions of dollars of buyout and corporate loans. It faces potential massive losses on auto, mortgage and credit card loans if the economy worsens. [This paragraph requires a reference, particularly to the $20 billion figure quoted above. It is likely that this number is a severe underestimate of the value of CDO holdings held in off-balance sheet SIVs.]
On January 16, 2009, Citigroup announced its intention to reorganize itself into two operating units: Citicorp for its retail and investment banking business, and Citi Holdings for its brokerage and asset management. Citigroup will continue to operate as a single company for the time being, but Citi Holdings managers will be tasked to "tak[e] advantage of value-enhancing disposition and combination opportunities as they emerge", and eventual spin-offs or mergers involving either operating unit have not been ruled out. On February 27, 2009 Citigroup announced that the United States government would be taking a 36% equity stake in the company by converting $25 billion in emergency aid into common shares. Citigroup shares dropped 40% on the news.
On June 1, 2009, it was announced that Citigroup Inc. would be removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average effective June 8, 2009, due to significant government ownership. Citigroup Inc. was replaced by Travelers Co.
Return to profitability, private ownership
In 2010, Citigroup celebrated its first year in the black since 2007. It reported $10.6 billion in net profit, compared with a $1.6 billion loss in 2009. Late in the year, the government sold its remaining stock holding in the company, yielding an overall net profit to taxpayers of $12 billion.
Citi is organized into two major segments – Citicorp and Citi Holdings.
Regional Consumer Banking
Retail Banking, Local Commercial Banking and Citi Personal Wealth Management
- North America, EMEA, Latin America and Asia; Residential real estate in North America
- North America, EMEA, Latin America and Asia
Latin America Asset Management
Institutional Clients Group
Securities and Banking
- Investment banking
- Debt and equity markets (including prime brokerage)
- Private equity
- Hedge funds
- Real estate
- Structured products
- Private Bank
- Equity and Fixed Income research
- Cash management
- Trade services
- Custody and fund services
- Clearing services
Brokerage and Asset Management
- Largely includes investment in and associated earnings from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney joint venture
- Retail alternative investments
Local Consumer Lending
- Consumer finance lending: residential and commercial real estate; auto, student and personal loans; and consumer branch lending
- Retail partner cards
- Certain international consumer lending (including Western Europe retail banking and cards)
Special Asset Pool
- Certain institutional and consumer bank portfolios
Citigroup is divided into four major business groups: Consumer Banking, Global Wealth Management, Global Cards, and Institutional Clients Group.
Global Consumer Group
This division of Citigroup generated 12 billion in revenue and more than $4 billion in net income in 2006 , Global Consumer Group comprises four sub-divisions: Cards (credit cards), Consumer Lending Group (Real-Estate Lending, Auto Loans, Student Loans), Consumer Finance, and Retail Banking. Targeting individual consumers as well as small- to medium-sized businesses, GCG offers financial services across its worldwide branch network, including banking, loans, insurance, and investment services. On March 31, 2008, Citigroup announced that it will create 2 new global businesses – Consumer Banking and Global Cards out of the existing Global Consumer Group. This has since changed. Consumer Banking "The Americas" is managed by Manuel Medina Mora who was the CEO of Banamex prior to its merger with Citigroup. Western Europe, Central Europe and Asia are under Business Managers responsible for both the Consumer and Corporate/Investment businesses. After 2008, Citigroup carved out CitiHoldings as a separate entity to manage the businesses on the block. Citigroup Nominates 4 Independent Directors by New York Times (March 16, 2009)
Citi Cards is responsible for around 40% of the profits with GCG, and represents the largest issuer of credit cards across the world as well as a 3,800-point ATM network across 45 countries.
Consumer Finance division (branded as "CitiFinancial") accounts for about 20% of GCG's profits, and offers personal loans and homeowner loans to consumers in 20 countries worldwide. There are over 2,100 branches in the U.S. and Canada. The takeover of Associates First Capital in September 2000 enabled CitiFinancial to expand its reach outside of the United States, particularly capitalizing on Associates' 700,000 customers in Japan and Europe. Citi ended its CitiFinancial operations in the UK in 2008 . Citifinancial is head by Mary Mcdowell in Baltimore, Maryland. On December 8, 2010, CitiGroup announced a rebranding name change taking into effect summer of 2011 where CitiFinancial will then be operating under the name OneMain Financial.
Finally, the retail bank encompasses the Citi's global branch network, branded Citibank. Citibank is the third largest retail bank in the United States based on deposits (although it has considerably fewer retail branches than many of its smaller rivals), and it has Citibank branded branches in countries throughout the world, with the exception of Mexico; In Mexico Citigroup's bank operations are branded as Banamex is the country's second largest bank and a Citigroup subsidiary.
>Global Wealth Management
Global Wealth Management divides itself into Citi Private Bank, Citi Smith Barney and Citi Investment Research, and generated 7% of Citigroup's total revenue in 2006. As revenues are predominantly derived from investment income, Global Wealth Management is more sensitive to the direction and level of the equity and fixed-income markets than other divisions of the company.
Citi Private Bank
Citi Private Bank provides banking and investment services to high net worth individuals, private institutions, and law firms. Acting as a gateway to all of Citigroup's products, Citi Private Bank offer traditional investment products and alternative choices, with all clients assigned a Private Banker to personally deal with their portfolio.
Citi Smith Barney
Citi Smith Barney was Citi's global private wealth management unit, providing brokerage, investment banking and asset management services to corporations, governments and individuals around the world. With over 800 offices worldwide, Smith Barney held 9.6 million domestic client accounts, representing $1.562 trillion in client assets worldwide.
Citi announced on January 13, 2009 that they would give Smith Barney to Morgan Stanley investment bank to combine their brokerage firms in exchange for $2.7 billion and 49% interest in the joint venture. Citi's urgent need for cash is reputed to be a driving force in this deal. Many have speculated that this may be the beginning of the end of Citi's "financial supermarket" approach.
Citi Investment Research
Citi Investment Research is Citi's equities research unit, with 390 research analysts across 22 countries. Citi Investment Research covers 3,100 companies, representing 90 percent of the market capitalization of the major global indices, providing macro and quantitative analysis of global markets and sector trends.
Citi Institutional Clients Group
Citi announced on October 11, 2007 the formation of the new Institutional Clients Group comprising Citi Markets & Banking (CMB) and Citi Alternative Investments (CAI) with Vikram Pandit, then 50, as its Chairman and CEO. Vikram Pandit was promoted to CEO of the entire company two months later.
Citi Markets and Banking
Containing Citi's most market-sensitive divisions, "CMB" is divided into two primary businesses: "Global Capital Markets and Banking" and "Global Transaction Services" (GTS). Global Capital Markets and Banking provides investment- and commercial-banking services covering institutional brokerage, advisory services, foreign exchange, structured products, derivatives, loans, leasing, and equipment finance. Meanwhile, GTS offers cash-management, trade finance and securities services to corporations and financial institutions worldwide. CMB is responsible for around 32% of Citigroup's annual revenues, generating just under US $30 billion in 2006 financial year.
Citi Alternative Investments
Citi Alternative Investments (CAI) is an alternative investment platform that manages assets across five classes – private equity, hedge funds, structured products, managed futures, and real estate. Across 16 "boutique investment centers", it offers various funds or separate accounts that utilize alternative investment strategies, as opposed to the mainstream mutual funds that it recently sold to Legg Mason. CAI manages Citigroup proprietary capital as well as institutional investments from third-parties and high-net-worth investors. As of June 30, 2007, CAI holds US$59.2 billion under capital management, and contributed 7% of Citigroup's 2006 income. In 2010, Citigroup agreed to sell its private equity unit to Lexington Partners for about $900 million, according to PE Hub, reported by Reuters. StepStone Group will provide management services for the unit. The sale would mark another step in Citigroup’s efforts to unload its unwanted assets.
Through Citicorp and Citi Holdings, Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.
Found in more than 100 countries, Citibank delivers a wide array of banking, lending and investment services to individual consumers, as well as to small businesses with up to $10 million in annual sales. Citibank also offers a full range of financial services products to serve the needs of small and large corporations, governments, and institutional and individual investors.
Provides community-based lending services through a branch network system. Consumer loan services include real estate-secured loans, unsecured and partially secured personal loans, and loans to finance consumer goods.
Provides mortgage products to customers.
Citi Capital Advisors
Creates and delivers a broad offering of investments, including fixed income, private equity, and infrastructure
Citi Cards is a provider of credit cards with more than 150 million accounts generating more than $144 billion in receivables. Citi Cards is the largest consumer business within Citi employing more than 32,000 employees at more than 30 sites across North America.
Citi Private Bank
The Citi Private Bank provides wealthy individuals a range of finance, banking, investment, trust and advisory services.
Citi Institutional Clients Group
Citi Institutional Clients Group provides investment and commercial banking services and is organized into five groups: Global Banking, Global Markets, Global Transaction Services, Citi Capital Advisors and the Citi Private Bank.
Citi Investment Research
Citi Investment Research is a research unit composed of 390 research analysts across 22 countries. The unit covers 3,100 companies and provides macro and quantitative analysis of global markets and sector trends.
Citi Microfinance works with the microfinance sector to broaden the reach of financial services including providing direct and structured financing, access to local capital markets, leasing, individual lending through MFI partners, foreign exchange and interest rate hedging, remittances and insurance.
Banamex is Mexico's largest commercial bank in terms of equity and earnings, and Citigroup's access to the Mexican and Latin American markets.
Woman & Co.
Women & Co. is a membership program that addresses the unique financial facts of women's lives.
Citigroup's most famous office building is the Citigroup Center, a diagonal-roof skyscraper located in East Midtown, Manhattan, New York City, which despite popular belief is not the company's headquarters building. Citigroup has its headquarters across the street in an anonymous-looking building at 399 Park Avenue (the site of the original location of the City National Bank). The headquarters is outfitted with nine luxury dining rooms, with a team of private chefs preparing a different menu for each day. The management team is on the third and fourth floors above a Citibank branch. Citigroup also leases a building in the TriBeCa neighborhood in Manhattan at 388 Greenwich St, that serves as headquarters for its Investment and Corporate Banking operations and was the former headquarters of the Travelers Group.
Strategically, all of Citigroup's New York City real estate, excluding the company's Smith Barney division and Wall Street trading division, lies along the New York City Subway's IND Queens Boulevard Line, served by the E M trains. Consequently, the company's Midtown buildings—including 787 Seventh Avenue, 666 Fifth Avenue, 399 Park Avenue, 485 Lexington, 153 East 53rd Street (Citigroup Center), and Citigroup Building in Long Island City, Queens, are all no more than two stops away from each other. In fact, every company building lies above or right across the street from a subway station served by the E M trains.
Chicago also plays home to an architectural beauty operated by Citigroup. Citicorp Center has a series of curved archways at its peak, and sits across the street from major competitor ABN AMRO's ABN AMRO Plaza. It has a host of retail and dining facilities serving thousands of Metra customers daily via the Ogilvie Transportation Center.
Raul Salinas and alleged money laundering
In 1998, the General Accounting Office issued a report critical of Citibank's handling of funds received from Raul Salinas de Gortari, the brother of Carlos Salinas, the former president of Mexico. The report, titled "Raul Salinas, Citibank and Alleged Money Laundering," indicated that Citibank facilitated the transfer of millions of dollars through complex financial transactions to hide the paper trail of funds. The report also indicated that Citibank took on Raul Salinas as a client even though they did not make a thorough inquiry as to how he made his fortune.
Conflicts of interest on investment research
In December 2002, Citigroup paid fines totaling $400 million, with the amount split between the states and the federal government. The fines were part of a settlement involving charges that ten banks, including Citigroup, deceived investors with biased research. The total settlement with the ten banks was $1.4 billion. The settlement required that the banks separate investment banking from research, and ban any allocation of IPO shares.
Enron, WorldCom and Global Crossing bankruptcies
Citigroup paid out over $3 billion in fines and legal settlements for their role in financing Enron Corporation, which collapsed amid a financial scandal in 2001. In 2003, Citigroup paid $145 million in fines and penalties to settle claims by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Manhattan district attorney’s office. In 2005, Citigroup paid $2 billion to settle a lawsuit filed by investors in Enron. In 2008, Citigroup paid $1.66 billion to the Enron Bankruptcy Estate, which represented creditors of the bankrupt company. In 2004, Citigroup paid $2.65 billion to settle a lawsuit concerning their role in selling stocks and bonds for WorldCom, which collapsed in 2002 in an accounting scandal. In 2005, Citigroup paid $75 million to settle a lawsuit from investors in Global Crossing, which filed bankruptcy in 2002. Citigroup was accused of issuing exaggerated research reports and not disclosing conflicts of interest.
Citigroup proprietary government bond trading scandal
Citigroup was criticized for disrupting the European bond market by rapidly selling €11 billion worth of bonds on August 2, 2004 on the MTS Group trading platform, driving down the price, and then buying it back at cheaper prices.
2005 "Revisiting Plutonomy: The Rich Getting Richer" equity strategy public investment advisory
In 2005, Citigroup published an investment advisory for current and potential Citi investors entitled "Revisiting Plutonomy: The Rich Getting Richer" which declared, "Asset booms, a rising profit share and favorable treatment by market-friendly governments have allowed the rich to prosper...[and] take an increasing share of income and wealth over the last 20 years..."
"...the top 10%, particularly the top 1% of the US-- the plutonomists in our parlance-- have benefited disproportionately from the recent productivity surge in the US...[and] from globalization and the productivity boom, at the relative expense of labor."
"...[and they] are likely to get even wealthier in the coming years. [Because] the dynamics of plutonomy are still intact."
In 2004, Japanese regulators took action against Citibank Japan in connection with making loans to a customer involved in stock manipulation. This action included suspension of bank activities in one branch and three offices, and restrictions on their consumer banking division. In 2009, the Japanese regulators again took action against Citibank Japan, this time in regard to the bank not setting up an effective money laundering monitoring system. The regulatory agency suspended sales operations within its retail banking operations for a month.
On March 23, 2005, the NASD announced total fines of $21.25 million against Citigroup Global Markets, Inc., American Express Financial Advisors and Chase Investment Services regarding suitability and supervisory violations relating to mutual fund sales practices between January 2002 and July 2003. The case against Citigroup involved recommendations and sales of Class B and Class C shares of mutual funds.
On June 6, 2007, the NASD announced more than $15 million in fines and restitution against Citigroup Global Markets, Inc., to settle charges related to misleading documents and inadequate disclosure in retirement seminars and meetings for BellSouth Corp. employees in North Carolina and South Carolina. NASD found that Citigroup did not properly supervise a team of brokers located in Charlotte, N.C., who used misleading sales materials during dozens of seminars and meetings for hundreds of BellSouth employees.
In July 2010, Citigroup agreed to pay $75 million to settle civil charges that it misled investors over potential losses from high-risk mortgages. The Securities and Exchange Commission said that Citigroup had made misleading statements about the company's exposure to subprime mortgages. In 2007, Citigroup indicated that their exposure was less than $13 billion, when in fact it was over $50 billion.
Terra Securities scandal
In November 2007 it became public that the Citigroup is heavily involved in the Terra Securities scandal, which involved investments by eight municipalities of Norway in various hedge funds in the United States bond market. The funds were sold by Terra Securities ASA to the municipalities, while the products were delivered by Citigroup. Terra Securities ASA filed for bankruptcy November 28, 2007, the day after they received a letter from The Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway announcing withdrawal of permissions to operate. The same letter also stated, "The Supervisory Authority contends that Citigroup's presentation, as well as the presentation from Terra Securities ASA, appears insufficient and misleading because central elements like information about potential extra payments and the size of these are omitted."
Theft from customer accounts
On August 26, 2008 it was announced that Citigroup agreed to pay nearly $18 million in refunds and fines to settle accusations by California Attorney General Jerry Brown that it wrongly took funds from the accounts of credit card customers. Citigroup would pay $14 million of restitution to roughly 53,000 customers nationwide. A three-year investigation found that Citigroup from 1992 to 2003 used an improper computerized "sweep" feature to move positive balances from card accounts into the bank's general fund, without telling cardholders.
Brown said in a statement that Citigroup "knowingly stole from its customers, mostly poor people and the recently deceased, when it designed and implemented the sweeps...When a whistleblower uncovered the scam and brought it to his superiors, they buried the information and continued the illegal practice."
Federal bailout 2008
On November 24, 2008, the U.S. government announced a massive bailout of Citigroup, designed to rescue the company from bankruptcy while giving the government a major say in its operations. The Treasury will provide another $20 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds in addition to $25 billion given in October. The Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) will cover 90% of the losses on its $335 billion portfolio after Citigroup absorbs the first $29 billion in losses. In return the bank will give Washington $27 billion of preferred shares and warrants to acquire stock. The government will obtain wide powers over banking operations. Citigroup has agreed to try to modify mortgages, using standards set up by the FDIC after the collapse of IndyMac Bank, with the goal of keeping as many homeowners as possible in their houses. Executive salaries will be capped.
As a condition of the bailout, Citigroup's dividend payment has been reduced to 1 cent per share.
As the subprime mortgage crisis began to unfold, heavy exposure to toxic mortgages in the forms of Collateralized debt obligation (CDOs), compounded by poor risk management led the company into serious trouble. In early 2007 Citigroup began eliminating about 5 percent of its workforce, in a broad restructuring designed to cut costs and bolster its long underperforming stock. By November 2008, the ongoing crisis hit Citigroup hard and despite federal TARP bailout money, the company announced further cuts. Its stock market value dropped to $6 billion, down from $244 billion two years prior. As a result, Citigroup and Federal regulators negotiated a plan to stabilize the company. Its single largest shareholder is Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, who has a 4.9% stake. Vikram Pandit is Citigroup's current CEO, while Richard Parsons is the current chairman.
According to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and as reported by the Wall Street Journal, after having received its $45 billion TARP bailout in late 2008, Citigroup paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses to more than 1,038 of its employees. This included 738 employees each receiving $1 million in bonuses, 176 employees each receiving $2 million bonuses, 124 each receiving $3 million in bonuses, and 143 each receiving bonuses of $4 million to more than $10 million.
Terra Firma Investments lawsuit
In December 2009, Citigroup was sued by British equity firm Terra Firma Investments, who alleged fraud on Citigroup's part in regard to Terra Firma's purchase of music corporation EMI's label and music publishing interests. The suit was decided in Citigroup's favor in November 2010. On February 1, 2010, Citigroup took control of EMI from Terra Firma and wrote off £2.2 billion ($3.5 billion) of Terra Firma's debt.
Public and government relations
Citigroup is the 16th largest political campaign contributor in the United States, out of all organizations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. According to Matthew Vadum, a senior editor at the conservative Capital Research Center, Citigroup is also a heavy contributor to left-of-center political causes. However, members of the firm have donated over $23,033,490 from 1989–2006, 49% of which went to Democrats and 51% of which went to Republicans.
Lobbying and political advice
In 2009, Richard Parsons hired long-time Washington, D.C. lobbyist Richard F. Hohlt to advise Parsons and the company about relations with the U. S. government, though not to lobby for the company. While some speculated anonymously that the FDIC would have been a particular focus of Mr. Hohlt's attention, Hohlt said he'd had no contact with the government insurance corporation. Some former regulators found room to criticize, in the news report, Mr. Hohlt's involvement with Citigroup, because of his earlier involvement with the financial-services industry during the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s. Mr. Hohlt responded that though mistakes were made in the earlier episode, not to mention by other more recent clients of his like Fannie Mae and Washington Mutual, he'd never been investigated by any government agency and his experience gave him reason to be back in the "operating room" as parties address the more recent crisis.
Public and governmental relations
In 2010, the company named Edward Skyler, formerly in New York City government and at Bloomberg LP, to its senior public and governmental relations position. Before Skyler was named and before he began his job search, the company reportedly held discussions with three other individuals to fill the position: NY Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's "political guru ... [who] spearheaded ... his short-lived flirtation with a presidential run ..., who will soon leave City Hall for a position at the mayor’s company, Bloomberg L.P. .... After Mr. Bloomberg’s improbable victory in the 2001 mayor’s race, both Mr. Skyler and Mr. Sheekey followed him from his company to City Hall. Since then, they have been a part of an enormously influential coterie of advisers"; Howard Wolfson, the former communications director for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign and Mr. Bloomberg’s re-election bid; and Gary Ginsberg, now at Time Warner and formerly at News Corporation.