Robert Rubin and Chuck Prince ran the financial giant Citigroup in the years leading up to the Great Financial Crash of 2008. Together, their leadership proved so disastrous that the company was forced to beg for one of the largest bailouts in economic history. Under Rubin and Prince, Citigroup made just about every wrong-headed bet it could have made: The company issuing millions of predatory subprime mortgages, bought billions in doomed mortgage derivatives and made tricky trades to hide assets from investors. On Thursday, April 8, Rubin and Prince will testify before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Here are ten questions the Commission should ask them.
1. How much money did each of you make during your tenure at Citi?
2. How many subprime mortgages did Citi issue while you were running the company?
3. How much did Citigroup spend on campaign contributions and lobbying efforts between 1999 and 2009? Please include sums funneled through trade groups like the American Bankers Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Financial Services Roundtable.
4. How much money did Citigroup lose in 2008 and 2009?
5. How many Citigroup mortgages have gone into foreclosure since 2006?
6. How much bailout money did Citigroup receive from the federal government? Please include sums received under the FDIC’s Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and the Federal Reserve.
7. Citigroup moved about $100 billion in assets off its balance sheet under your tenures, refusing to disclose anything about these questionable assets to investors. By pulling the wool over the eyes of your own investors, Citi was able to expand its leverage ratios beyond the legal limits. Why did you do this? How much money did you ultimately lose on those off-balance-sheet assets?
8. Citigroup was created in 1999 by the repeal of Glass-Steagall, a deregulatory effort that Rubin pushed through when serving as Treasury Secretary. How does Citigroup’s disastrous performance over the past decade reflect on the repeal of that law?
9. Every single banking conglomerate in the United States needed a substantial bailout from U.S. taxpayers in 2008. If Citigroup remains at its current size, what is the likelihood that the company will get through the next financial crisis without needing a bailout?
10. What does Citigroup owe the American people? What do you, personally, owe the American people?