Sandy Weill, the erstwhile CEO of Citigroup, has never been one to go small. He's the one who engineered the deals that turned the financial-services firm into the sprawling, uncontrollable giant that it now is. And his vacations, too, are supersize. This weekend, the Post reported that the day after Christmas, Weill took his family to the One & Only Palmilla, the $10,000-a-night luxury resort in San José del Cabo where Eli Manning got married this past summer. Lovely! That he did this less than a month after the company he created was bailed out to the tune of $350 billion in taxpayer money, and not long after the layoffs of 53,000 people worldwide, might be seen as being in moderately bad taste, but then again, Weill is not really the kind of guy who cares that people might think he's being ostentatious. And anyway, the real lapse in judgment is not that he went on vacay, but that he took a Citigroup jet to get there.
The jet, a Bombadier BD 700 Global Express, was described by the Post thusly:
Seating up to 18 passengers, the interior features a full bar and fine-wine selection, along with "$13,000 carpets, pillows that were made from Hermes scarves, Baccarat Crystal glassware and Cristofle sterling silver flatware," said a former crew member.
They estimate that it cost $60,000 to $80,000 for the whole trip. Apparently, according to SEC filings, Weill reimbursed the company for a portion of the costs, and he has now, he says, "voluntarily" given up access to the jet, in addition to various other perks that he probably never should have been receiving in the first place. Which brings us to the real villain here, the person who authorized these expenses: CEO Vikram Pandit. Who, the very week Weill was sunning himself in Cabo, made a big public show of forgoing a bonus and cutting down on corporate expenses. We can't help but wonder if, when Pandit crafted his lines about the necessity of frugality in the face of the "harsh realities of 2008," he thought, in his mind's eye, of Weill, oiled up and sunning himself on Los Cabos. Did he hope no one would find out about Weill's little jaunt? Or was he so arrogant that he never thought anyone would? In the past, this kind of utterly tone-deaf behavior and disregard for the populace has stirred revolutions. Now, of course, we're all too lazy. But at the very least, it would be nice if it got Vikram Pandit fired.
CITI'S SKY-HIGH ARROGANCE [NYP]
Earlier: What it Means to Be 'Retired' From Citi