The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) today charged Citigroup Inc. with misleading investors about the company’s exposure to subprime mortgage assets targeting two Citi executives for their roles in the incident that will cost the company $75m. Citigroup will not dispute the fine, the SEC said, and will pay the full amount. Between July and mid-October 2007, Citigroup represented that it had reduced subprime mortgage exposure from $13bn or “slightly less” from $24bn at the end of 2006, according to the SEC complaint. In actuality the amount increased to $50bn. Citigroup had failed to include more than $39bn of “super senior” tranches of subprime collateralized debt obligations and related instruments called liquidity puts. The complaint reported that former CFO Gary Crittenden and former head of investor relations Arthur Tildesley, Jr. (the current head of cross marketing at Citigroup) had knowledge of these debts, including detailed briefings on valuation issues related to the super senior tranches as well as information citing Citigroup’s disclosures as possibly being misleading. The SEC’s order finds that both Crittenden and Tildesley helped draft and then approved the disclosures that were included in a Form 8-K filed with the SEC on Oct. 1, 2007. Crittenden agreed to pay $100,000 an Tildesley agreed to pay $80,000. “Citigroup boasted of superior risk management skills in reducing its subprime exposure to approximately $13 billion. In fact, billions more in CDO and other subprime exposure sat on its books undisclosed to investors,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of SEC Enforcement. This charge and fine come after the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) engaged CitiMortgage, Inc., the servicing division of Citigroup, in a $700,000 settlement for failure to adhere to reporting standards of delinquent loans. Citi said in an official statement that a computer error caused the discrepancy. Write to Christine Ricciardi.
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