Yesterday when shit hit the fan over a report that Citigroup, which recently received billions of dollars in government assistance, was buying a $50 million jet, we wondered where Citi's public-relations people were. The Post was having a field day, Michigan Senator Dan Levin's head was exploding and Financial Services Committee chair Barney Frank's eyebrows arched so high they almost came off his face. Even Obama got into it, saying that he thought it wasn't quite the "best use of money." But through it all, the bank refused to comment. Have they all been fired? we wondered, until late last night, when a perfectly nice PR person from Citi PR e-mailed us a statement explaining their side of the story.
We signed a contract in 2005 for replacement aircraft, which was part of our plan to reduce the number of aircraft Citi owns and use more fuel-efficient aircraft with lower ongoing operating costs. We expect proceeds from the sale of our existing aircraft will exceed the cost of the replacement aircraft and refusing delivery now would result in millions of dollars in penalties. Citi is exploring all its options for these assets, including the potential sale or lease of the aircraft. It is important to note that TARP funds will not be used for these purchases. Citi will continue to comply with all TARP requirements."
But before we could even get into a weird domestic spat with them about how it didn't matter if it was specifically the TARP funds because really it is all coming from the same place, the nice spokesman sent us a "clarification."
"Citi has no intent to take delivery of any new aircraft."
Okay, (a) That is not a clarification, and (b) They just told us that not getting it delivered would cost millions of dollars in penalties! So now they're not only not spending millions of dollars on a fuel-efficient aircraft that will lower costs, they're spending millions of dollars on ... nothing? We should have known from our experience over the past few months: When Washington meets Wall Street, everyone loses.
OBAMA & CONGRESS BLAST CITI OVER JET [NYP]
Earlier: Citigroup Fumbles Response to Questions About New $50 Million Jet