Citigroup's Vikram Pandit needs a new $10 million office
According to Bloomberg News, the beleaguered bank plans to "spend about $10 million on new offices for Pandit and his lieutenants after the U.S. government injected $45 billion of cash into the bank." You read that right. This is the same Pandit who groveled before the U.S. Congress, saying that he understood the "new reality" facing Wall Street. That's the one where fatcats can fly anywhere they please on their corporate jets. In an effort to show he was a regular guy, Pandit pointed out that he was taking $1 a year in salary until Citibank became profitable again. The problem is the statement was not exactly true.
Pandit received a compensation package totaling $38.2 million in 2008 when the bank posted five quarters of losses and the government poured $45 billion to keep it from teetering into bankruptcy. That's on top of the $80 million Pandit received for selling his hedge fund to Citigroup in 2007.
Citigroup is offering a lame defense of the office project, saying it was part of a plan to help it reduce office space as part of a cost-cutting plan. If you believe that story, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
The gap between Wall Street and Main Street is as wide as the Grand Canyon. Most people find the world of money an alien place filled with alien people. Peoples' faith in the financial system is further shaken by stories like the Citigroup office project and the American International Group Inc. (AIG).
Hatred of Wall Street is boiling over. Members of Congress and the public are storming the financial world with their pitchforks and torches. Pandit will be only one of many executives who will be set, very publicly, on fire.