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OPINION

Editor's letter: The shame of Robert Rubin

It must have been the shortest tenure ever in the most senior job in global banking.

Robert E Rubin became chairman of Citigroup on November 4 2007 in the wake of the ousting of Chuck Prince following the revelation of another $11 billion hit to the value of the bank’s credit assets. After just five weeks in the job, on December 11 2007, Rubin was succeeded by Sir Win Bischoff as chairman, with Vikram Pandit taking over as chief executive.

Perhaps the oddest aspect of the news announcement – aside from the lack of relevant experience of Pandit and Bischoff in taking on the top two private sector jobs in the financial world – was how both men deferred to Rubin. If there was a tricky question about board composition or dividend policy the two new appointees, after a brief flounder, let Rubin step in.

Such is the natural authority of a former secretary of the US Treasury who was, before that, co-CEO of Goldman Sachs, the world’s pre-eminent investment bank.

Citi shareholders must wish that such natural authority, and all Rubin’s insights into the greed, fear and complacency that drive financial markets, plus his wide experience of the workings of government and large private-sector banks, can now be brought to bear to fix Citi.

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