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The Citadel Link: What Ken Griffin Has to Do With GameStop

  • Billionaire is now subject of speculation, conspiracy theories
  • ‘The more shares they see, the more bread crumbs they take’
Ken Griffin
Ken GriffinPhotographer: David Paul Morris/David Paul Morris
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The name is a byword for power on Wall Street. But suddenly, there it was, in the White House Briefing Room, too: “Citadel.”

Given the wild stock-market spectacle involving GameStop Corp., the question last week for the new press secretary was this: would Janet Yellen, now Treasury secretary, recuse herself from the matter given the hundreds of thousands of dollars she’d collected in speaking fees from Citadel?

For people outside financial circles, the answer -- Yellen is a pro, nothing to see here -- was probably less surprising than the fact that Citadel came up at all. But in the is-this-for-real story of GameStop and Robinhood, Citadel, the financial empire run by billionaire Kenneth Griffin, has become a subject of fascination, speculation and, in some corners of the internet, grassy-knoll conspiracy theories.

No one in a position of authority has officially accused Citadel of wrongdoing. But from Washington to Silicon Valley to Wall Street to cyberspace, the giant financial firm lies at the center of many of the questions being raised, including the big one: What on Earth just happened?

Griffin, 52, got his start trading out of his Harvard dorm room, and three decades later, he runs one of the largest hedge funds and one of the biggest market makers in the world. On the brink of extinction during the 2008 financial crisis, the billionaire has now become the ultimate example of a moneyed, Wall Street archetype who is easy to rage against.