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Corbat Says Citigroup Equipped to Avoid Whale-Sized Error

Citigroup Inc. CEO Michael Corbat
Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat, pictured, and Chairman Michael O’Neill presided over their first annual meeting together since taking the bank’s most senior positions last year. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat said the bank manages risks in a way that would avert the multibillion-dollar losses JPMorgan Chase & Co. suffered in its chief investment office.

The credit derivatives JPMorgan used in the so-called London Whale transactions at its London office have “heightened price volatility,” Corbat said today at Citigroup’s annual meeting in New York.

“That’s not what that money is set aside to do,” Corbat said. “There’s balance between how we’re using company monies in the investment of our liquidity.”

JPMorgan lost at least $6.2 billion last year on a derivatives bet by a trader called the London Whale because his bets were so big they moved markets. The loss prompted the Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission and other agencies to open investigations, and has put pressure on JPMorgan to split Jamie Dimon’s dual roles as chairman and CEO.

Corbat, 52, and Chairman Michael O’Neill, 66, presided over their first annual meeting together since taking the bank’s most senior positions last year. O’Neill, a director since 2009, replaced Richard Parsons as chairman after the 2012 annual meeting.

The CEO and chairman have embarked on an overhaul of Citigroup’s operations, announcing plans to cut 11,000 jobs, shut branches, pull back from certain markets and exit more if results don’t improve.

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