An Indonesian Man Died During Citibank Debt Collection

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Photo: Adek BErry/AFP/Getty Images

Citibank is battling bad PR and a big lawsuit in the world's largest Muslim country after a death and an arrest on their watch. Just after Malinda Dee, a Citibank veteran, was accused of stealing from her rich clients, Irzen Octa, a 50 year old businessman "in good health" collapsed during a "harsh interrogation" from debt collectors in Jakarta and died soon after. Although none of the five people arrested for "group violence" and "mistreatment resulting in death" are employed by Citibank, the American company's use of outsourced collections agencies has come under fire. Conflicting reports point to "asphyxiation," "strike from a blunt instrument" or a brain hemorrhage as the cause of death. Octa's wife is suing Citibank for $350 million despite the steps the company has taken to apologize:

Citibank has brought all its debt collection in-house and written off its dead client’s debts. It also offered Octa’s family a monthly stipend, life insurance for his widow and a promise to cover his two daughters’ education. The family, pushing for a bigger payout in court, rejected the offer.

As damage control, Citigroup vice-chairman Lewis Kaden flew to Jakarta to assure everyone that both situations "are being treated with the utmost seriousness by our senior management."

Scandals tarnish Citibank’s image in Indonesia [WP]