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Citi to pay $73 million for misleading investors

By David Ellis, staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Citigroup said Thursday it would pay $73 million to settle charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission that the bank, as well as two of its executives, misled investors about the company's exposure to the subprime mortgage market.

Wall Street's top regulator said Citigroup repeatedly made misleading statements in investor presentations and in public filings about the actual size of assets it controlled that were backed by subprime mortgages.

Between July and mid-October 2007, the company maintained its holdings of what have now been dubbed "toxic assets", stood at $13 billion, when in fact the number was closer to $50 billion, according to the SEC.

"The rules of financial disclosure are simple -- if you choose to speak, speak in full and not in half-truths," Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement, said in a statement.

Also charged in the case were two Citigroup executives, including former chief financial officer Gary Crittenden and Arthur Tildesley, Jr., who currently serves as the head of cross marketing at the company.

Crittenden agreed to pay $100,000 to settle the charges while Tildesley, the former head of investor relations, agreed to pay $80,000.

In a statement issued Thursday, Citigroup stood behind the men, calling them both "highly valued" employees.

"We are pleased that we have reached agreement with the SEC to put this matter concerning certain 2007 disclosures behind us, and that the SEC is not charging Citi or any individual with intentional or reckless misconduct," the company said in a statement.

Citigroup neither admitted or denied the SEC's allegations. But Thursday's settlement is the federal agency's latest attempt to crack down on fraud and misbehavior on Wall Street during the crisis.

Earlier this month, the SEC struck an agreement with Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500). The company agreed to pay $550 million to settle charges that the company defrauded investors in the sale of an investment tied to subprime mortgages.

Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) stock edged higher in afternoon trading Thursday. To top of page

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