Citi Execs 'Sorry' for Financial Crisis, But...

Prince, Rubin take no responsibility at inquiry hearing in DC
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2010 1:02 PM CDT
Citi Execs 'Sorry' for Financial Crisis, But...
Former Citi Chief Executive Officer Charles Prince, left, and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who was a senior adviser and chairman of Citigroup during the mortgage and financial crises.   (AP Photo)

Citigroup's former CEO Chuck Prince and former chairman Robert Rubin sure are sorry that their bank’s toxic assets struck a near-fatal blow to the economy and necessitated a $45 billion federal bailout, but they really didn’t see it coming. That’s the gist of their testimony today in front of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in Washington. “I’m sorry,” said Prince. He “did not see the unprecedented market collapse that lay before us.”

But really, Prince continued, “having $40 billion of AAA-plus-rated paper on the balance sheet of a $2 trillion company would typically not raise a concern.” Ah, yes, said a commission member—those pesky mis-rated mortgage-backed securities. “Instead of asking what did you know and when did you know it, I should be asking what didn't you know and why didn't you know it?” Rubin pleaded widespread ignorance, the Los Angeles Times reports. “All of us in the financial system,” he said, “missed the powerful combination of forces at work.” (More Robert Rubin stories.)

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