“For some top Citigroup executives, it was a kind of little black book: an informal tally of Mexican companies that they feared could imperil the bank’s “crown jewel” — a sprawling retail lender called Banamex.
“Using that list, which one top executive referred to as the “book of redlined clients,” the bank severed ties to multiple companies in Mexico in the financial crisis year of 2008, part of a broad scrubbing of risk throughout Citigroup, former executives said.
“But a $400 million fraud at its Banamex unit that was discovered last month highlights the limitations of that kind of culling, and more broadly points to the challenges of finding solid lending clients in a country where the line between big business and political cronyism can become blurred.
“The loss is also drawing attention to the longtime leadership of Citigroup’s Mexico chairman, Manuel Medina-Mora, 62, a star at the bank, where he is known for his dapper suits and corner-office polish.”
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