"An alleged Ponzi-style scheme that's now choking world banking."
Suit Slams Rubin
By PAUL THARP
The New York Post
A new Citigroup scandal is engulfing Robert Rubin and his former disciple Chuck Prince for their roles in an alleged Ponzi-style scheme that's now choking world banking.
Director Rubin and ousted CEO Prince - and their lieutenants over the past five years - are named in a federal lawsuit for an alleged complex cover-up of toxic securities that spread across the globe, wiping out trillions of dollars in their destructive paths.
Investor-plaintiffs in the suit accuse Citi management of overseeing the repackaging of unmarketable collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) that no one wanted - and then reselling them to Citi and hiding the poisonous exposure off the books in shell entities.
The lawsuit said that when the bottom fell out of the shaky assets in the past year, Citi's stock collapsed, wiping out more than $122 billion of shareholder value.
However, Rubin and other top insiders were able to keep Citi shares afloat until they could cash out more than $150 million for themselves in "suspicious" stock sales "calculated to maximize the personal benefits from undisclosed inside information," the lawsuit said.
The latest troubles for Rubin, Prince and others emerged in a 500-page investigation by Citigroup investors represented by law firm Kirby McInerney.
The probe was used to amend and add new details to a blanket investor lawsuit filed against Citigroup a year ago. The amended suit called the actions of Citi leaders "a quasi-Ponzi scheme" to hide troubles - and keep Citi stock afloat while insiders unloaded about 3 million shares between Jan. 1, 2004 and Feb. 22, 2008 for huge profits.
In addition to Citigroup, Rubin and Prince, the complaint names Vice Chairman Lewis Kaden, ex-CFO Sallie Krawcheck and her successor CFO Gary Crittenden.
Rubin cleared $30.6 million on his stock sales, while Prince got $26.5 million, former COO Robert Druskin got nearly $32 million and former Global Wealth Management unit chief Todd Thomson got $25.7 million, the suit said.
Citi denied the allegations and said it "will defend against it vigorously."
© 2008 The New York Post: www.nypost.com
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