If you thought SEC enforcement chief Robert Khuzami had finished kicking ass and taking names over the financial crisis when he reaped his settlement from Goldman Sachs, you were wrong, friend. Today, the Enforcer announced that the agency would be collecting some cash money from Citigroup and two of its top executives for saying back in 2007 that the bank's exposure to subprime was, oh, around $36 billion less than it actually was. Now, we know you're dying to know: How much is a lie that big worth? How much can a company that (after being bailed out by the U.S. taxpayer) has a market cap of $120 billion afford? How much should the top executives who through sheer negligence allowed their company to accumulate so many worthless securities it became a danger to not only itself but the financial system as a whole, then lied about it hoping that nobody would notice, have to pay? What price honesty?
It's priceless, really. So, the agency went with roughly what CEO Vikram Pandit spends on wine in a year:
Citigroup agreed to pay a $75 million penalty. Former chief financial officer Gary Crittenden agreed to pay $100,000, and former head of investor relations Arthur Tildesley, Jr., (currently the head of cross marketing at Citigroup) agreed to pay $80,000.
Khuzami is not done yet: The Enforcer closed out his press release with this cryptic warning: "The rules of financial disclosure are simple — if you choose to speak, speak in full and not in half-truths." Or else pay the price. (It's doable.)