Citi's Prince: 'I'm sorry'

April 8, 2010 at 11:21 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 8 (UPI) -- Two former executives of Citigroup Inc. expressed regret Thursday for failures at the U.S. financial giant that resulted in huge losses and government bailouts.

Former Chief Executive Charles Prince and former Chairman Robert Rubin testified before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in Washington, where they were at times grilled by commission members looking into the financial meltdown that brought the U.S. economy to the brink of depression in 2008.

"Let me start by saying I'm sorry," Prince said. "I'm sorry the financial crisis has had such a devastating impact on our country. I'm sorry for the millions of people, average Americans, who have lost their homes. And I'm sorry that our management team, starting with me, like so many others could not see the unprecedented market collapse that lay before us."

Rubin -- who joined Citigroup after serving as treasury secretary during the administration of former President Bill Clinton -- stopped short of taking personal responsibility for losses that led to government bailouts totaling $45 billion to rescue the firm, The Washington Post reported.

Rubin's opening statement to the commission blamed the firm's difficulties on low interest rates, the housing bubble, excessive risk-taking and other factors. But Rubin said company executives "missed the powerful combination of forces at work and the serious possibility of a massive crisis. We all bear responsibility for not recognizing this, and I deeply regret that."

Commission Chairman Phil Angelides told Rubin, "You were either pulling the levers or asleep at the switch."

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