Saturday, June 27, 2009

Japan attacks Citigroup standards

Citigroup was hit hard by the crisis and is partly owned by the US government
Japan has punished US bank Citigroup for what it called lax policies to protect against money laundering.

The Financial Services Agency (FSA) ordered Citigroup to suspend sale promotions for one month at the 35 branches of its Japanese retail bank.

The Japanese regulator previously shut down Citigroup's private banking business in the country in 2004 for the same reasons.

Citigroup is in the process of selling some of its Japanese units.

Previous trouble

The FSA said the lack of compliance showed Citigroup executives "lack an understanding of the rules applied in Japan".

It said the bank had not developed proper systems to detect "suspicious transactions", such as money laundering.

"We are determined to take necessary measures on the issues," Citigroup Japan said in a statement, and apologised to its clients for the suspension.

The regulator's previous investigation of Citigroup in 2004 resulted in former chief Charles "Chuck" Prince flying to Japan to make a public apology in the form of a public bow.

While Citigroup will not be allowed to advertise its products, customers can still buy products from Citigroup Japan.

The ban applies from 15 July to 14 August.

Citigroup agreed last month to sell its Japanese brokerage and investment banking assets to Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group for about $5.9bn, and wants to get rid of Nikko Asset Management as well.

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