From 2002 to 2007, Citi raised $2.8 billion from clients to invest in a couple of fund series called MAT Finance LLC, which invested in municipal bonds and was eventually leveraged 8:1 and Falcon, which invested in mortgage debt. Despite the former being marketed as "an attractive alternative to a bond index" and the latter receiving an S&P rating "equivalent to safe, medium-term government bonds," anyone who bet on the funds lost what might be characterized as "a metric ass-ton of their money."
For exampe, the funds a team of brokers from Smith Barney put their clients in fell an impressive 80% to 97% from May 2007 to March 2008. Though Citi claims no foul play and offered to cover approximately one-eighth of clients' losses, the SEC still felt the need to launch an investigation into whether or not the bank's employees adequately disclosed the funds' risks and/or mismanaged them. And apparently investors are still pretty miffed about the whole thing, which one broker, Michael Johnston, intuited by the response he got from one when suggesting a sweet buyback deal that would've translated to the client only losing 72% and promising not to sue Citi.
Mr. Johnston** told client Robert Goldstein, president of Las Vegas Sands' Venetian casino, of an offer from Citigroup to buy back his personal investment at what in his case would amount to a 72% loss. In an email to a Citigroup executive, Mr. Johnston described his client's reaction: "1. Go f— yourself. 2. We'll see you in court. 3. You'll look good in stripes."
**Who said in an email to Citi executives, "Some of my most valued clients will never trust my judgment again."