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Argentine Central Bank Removes Citibank CEO, Orders Bank Inspection To Ensure Compliance with Law

April 6, 2015 (EIRNS)—The Board of Directors of Argentina’s Central Bank (BCRA) has withdrawn its authorization for Citibank’s local CEO, Gabriel Juan Ribisich, to continue in that post, citing Ribisich’s endorsement of a secret agreement between the bank and the NML, Ltd. vulture fund owned by multibillionaire speculator Paul Singer, who has spent years trying to overturn Argentina’s sovereign debt restructuring.

In an April 1 statement, BCRA charged that by signing the secret agreement, Citibank had placed its own interests above those of its clients. According to the agreement, later accepted by New York Federal Judge Thomas Griesa, Citibank agreed to halt all appeals of Griesa’s rulings prohibiting it from paying bondholders who participated in Argentina’s debt restructuring, as long as NML didn’t interfere with its next two payments to bondholders on March 31 and June 30. It also agreed to keep NML, Ltd., apprised of all its future actions and decisions.

The agreement, the BCRA said, fails to protect users of Citibank’s financial services, affects Argentina’s payments system, and violates Argentine banking law.

The BCRA’s insistence that foreign banks must obey the country’s laws has driven the foreign banking community and business sector into a state of apoplexy. The Association of Banks in Argentina (ABA) and the U.S.-Argentine Chamber of Commerce (Amcham), hysterically demanded that BCRA immediately rescind the measure against Ribisich, to defend his reputation.

BCRA Governor Alejandro Vanoli, who has aggressively pursued speculators and banking criminals like HSBC since taking office last October, responded by ordering a team of Central Bank experts to perform a "comprehensive inspection" of Citibank beginning April 6, to "guarantee the bank’s normal functioning," and ensure that its employees are protected from any "internal conflicts" that might arise from the bank’s current problems.