ICCR Resolution at Citigroup Garners 30% of Shareholder Vote!
April 20th, 2010
A Resolution put forward by faith-based shareholders with Citigroup on the complex financial instruments known as derivatives garnered a significant 30% of the shareholder vote at the banks’ AGM today. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate joined the Maryknoll Sisters, the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, N.J. and other members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility in filing the Resolution.
Sr. Barbara Aires, coordinator of Corporate Responsibility for the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, NJ, said: “We consider this double-digit vote in favor of the resolution to be a moral victory that sends a strong message to Wall Street that the ‘old ways’ on derivatives and all of the attendant market-crashing risk they involve is no longer acceptable.”
ICCR Board Member Rev. Seamus Finn, director, Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying that ICCR members took this action because they are concerned “about those who are on the margins of the financial system, those in developing markets and the emerging market world.”
According to the resolution, “The recent financial crisis has resulted in the destruction of trillions of dollars of wealth and untold suffering and hardship across the world. …Very high degrees of leverage in derivatives transactions contributed to the timing and severity of the financial crisis.”
The US government holds 27% of outstanding shares in Citigroup as a result of last year’s bank bailout, and shareholders were disappointed that the US failed to vote all of its shares in favor of the derivatives resolution.
Fr. Finn excoriated the Treasury Department’s decision, saying “If taxpayers are going to own major shares of banks in exchange for bailouts then they should be just as active as other shareholders in providing guidance to management. The U.S. government controls over a quarter of outstanding Citigroup shares. It had an extraordinary opportunity here to vote all of its shares in telling Wall Street that more derivatives disclosure is vital.”
The Resolution called for the bank to disclose by Dec. 1 its policies on securing collateral for the derivatives they use in order to mitigate risk, and for using customer funds for other speculative activities. Derivatives are complex financial instruments that played a large role in the 2008 financial crisis.
Additional votes on shareholder resolutions on derivatives put forward by ICCR members will take place on April 28 at Bank of America, May 7 at Goldman Sachs, and May 18 at J.P. Morgan.