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Opinion

Strong medicine from Dr Evil

It took regulators one long year to work out what exactly Citigroup did wrong in August 2004 on the EuroMTS trading platform. In the interim, Citi has apologized repeatedly for its actions, perhaps because the firm itself has been the biggest victim. Having lost a fair chunk of fees underwriting business – apart from when the Greek debt office broke step in March on its €5billion 32-year deal – the firm has been notably absent in benchmark euro sovereign new issues since the misguided trade. Although some rival bankers suspect Citigroup has still been involved indirectly in the primary European government bond marks by carrying out swaps for new issues, its last euro trade of note for the Republic of Italy – the sovereign said to have taken particular issue with the rogue trade – came way back in February 2004. While Citi continues to enjoy success in other sectors of the international bond markets, the firm must be hoping that it will return to favour soon.

Will an official ticking-off hasten the rapprochement? So far the regulators have been surprisingly lenient. Back in March, German prosecutors decided not to proceed against the firm. In June, Eurex too cleared the firm of any breach of Eurex general principles, including the principle of commercial trust.

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