Tuesday, March 3, 2009   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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Once upon a time, not so long ago, Citigroup was a fairytale financial conglomerate that was the richest corporation in all the land.

But it turns out that Citigroup's magic kingdom was, like most Wall Street firms, built on fairy dust, and – poof! – the kingdom has vanished. Last year, the once mighty bank lost $18.7 billion dollars, fired 39,000 employees, and was reduced from a golden chariot to a pumpkin. It only survives today because of a $52 billion bailout from taxpayers.

And where are the executive alchemists who created the fairy dust to make Citigroup seem like so much more than it was? These royal princes of the kingdom, who were paid millions for their magical creations, all retired in riches, but you still might find some of them at the bank.

Take Charles Prince, who was CEO of Citigroup until retiring a year and a half ago – just as the fairy dust went poof. Prince Prince, who'd been paid $67 million for his first three years of overseeing the kingdom, was graced with a $10 million bonus in his last year, even though the empire was collapsing around him. But Prince wasn't sent away. He continues to enjoy a well-appointed office at the bank, an executive assistant, a limo, and a chauffeur.

Even though Citigroup is now on a financial death watch, several other of its former executives continue to draw millions of dollars in personal perks. Sandy Weill, for example, not only has kept an office, staff, and his limo since retiring three years ago, but he's also paid a consulting fee of $3,800 a day.

You'd hope that at least one of these guys would have the integrity to say, "You know, this is a ripoff, and I don't deserve it." Rather than wait for that magical moment, however, Congress should step up now and pull the plug on these pampered princes of greed.

"Bank executives might leave, but perks often linger," www.statesman.com, February 22, 2009.

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