Citigroup's Capture of Treasury Department Almost Complete

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By Jonathan Weil

Citigov, the too-big-to-fail bank formally known as Citigroup Inc., is close to getting one of its own in charge of the U.S. Treasury Department.

President Barack Obama may choose White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew to replace Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as soon as this week, Bloomberg News reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter. The president hasn't made a final decision to pick Lew, we're told, but the president's staff has been instructed to prepare for his nomination.

Among Lew's many jobs over the years, he was managing director and chief operating officer of Citigroup Global Wealth Management from 2006 to 2008. He held the same titles at Citigroup Alternative Investments from 2008 until early 2009, when he joined the Obama administration as director of the Office of Management and Budget. As White House chief of staff, Lew succeeded another too-big-to-fail banker, William Daley, formerly of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Which leads to this question: Of all the people Obama could pick for Treasury secretary, couldn't he find someone who wasn't an executive at a systemically risky financial institution that took a taxpayer bailout from the Treasury Department?

Imagine that.

(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)

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-0- Jan/08/2013 16:38 GMT