When an investment bank sponsors a national award in investigative business journalism, there will occasionally be inevitable tension between the bank that rewards the journalism while also being on the receiving end of it.
The Citi Journalism Awards have been running in Australia for 24 years – plenty long enough for this dilemma to arise.
Kudos, then, to Citi for awarding an article that directly embarrasses the bank. Its top gong went to an Australian Financial Review article on the near-collapse of Australian law firm Slater and Gordon after its acquisition of UK law firm Quindell – having been advised on that very deal by Citi.
The US bank also arranged an A$890 million ($641 million) capital-raising to fund the acquisition, a facility it is still struggling to refinance with the banking syndicate, including Citi.
“Citi must have the best Chinese wall in the financial services industry,” noted the Rear Window gadfly column in the AFR. “Either that or a sick sense of humour.”