Citigroup has been found to have intentionally discriminated against Armenian Americans in credit card applications.
Driving the news: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) revealed that some Citigroup employees internally referred to Armenian American applicants as “bad guys” or affiliated with organized crime.
- Citi employees were trained to avoid approving applications with last names ending in “yan” or “ian,” as well as applications originating from Glendale, California, where a significant Armenian-American population resides.
- Citigroup will pay $245 million in fines and $14 million in remedies to affected customers.
- The discrimination case is rooted in the presence of organized crime syndicates involving Armenian Americans in Southern California, where individuals have been charged with identity theft and other financial crimes.
The backstory: While Citigroup claims a few employees were trying to prevent fraud related to these crime rings, the CFPB found that Citigroup employees applied identifiable information to discriminate against Armenian Americans in general.
- CFPB’s investigation discovered that Citigroup employees concealed the real reasons behind denials of applications with Armenian last names, violating bank laws against national origin discrimination.
- Citigroup’s significant co-brand credit card partnerships with companies like Home Depot and Best Buy are involved in the case.
- Citigroup has faced previous fines and citations from regulatory bodies for unsound business practices.
- CFPB director Rohit Chopra expressed concerns about Citigroup’s ability to manage its business effectively.