Ex-Citi Official Says She Was Fired for Not Making False Reports

May 23, 2024 by

Kathleen Martin, a former senior data compliance official at Citigroup Inc., accused the bank of firing her for refusing to mislead a regulator about the lender’s data governance efforts.

Martin said in a lawsuit in New York Wednesday that Citigroup Chief Operating Officer Anand Selvakesari asked her to hide critical information about the bank’s metrics from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency because the data would make the bank “look bad.”

The bank hired Martin in 2021 to help “revamp its data processes and avoid further legal jeopardy” after the OCC levied a $400 million fine related to the bank’s data governance practices, according to the complaint. Selvakesari was named COO in 2023, giving him oversight of the firm’s ongoing work to comply with the consent order in the case.

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Martin said in the lawsuit that “almost as soon as he was promoted,” Selvakesari urged her to falsely tell the board and regulators that Citigroup had hit certain goals.

“The more Martin pushed back against this unlawful activity, the worse things got,” according to the 14-page complaint. Eventually, she says, the bank fired her, even though internal documents show that she was an “‘exemplary’ performer who ‘exceed[ed] expectations.'”

Citigroup declined to provide an immediate comment.

Martin said in the lawsuit that she was initially reluctant to leave a senior role at JPMorgan Chase & Co. before receiving assurances from Citigroup that she would be given “a long-term leadership position.”

In November 2021, Martin started as data chief administration officer and was later promoted to interim data transformation chair after helping the bank come up with a plan to comply with the consent decree, according to the lawsuit.

Martin said she was told that the interim title was meant to “ease high level executives into their new role.”

The case is Kathleen Martin v. Citibank N.A. and Anand Selva, 1:24-cv-03949, US District Court Southern District of New York.

Top photo: A Citibank branch in Washington, DC, US, on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. Citigroup Inc. will start a round of job cuts as soon as Monday as part of its sweeping reorganization, according to a person briefed on the matter. Photographer: Nathan Howard/Bloomberg.