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Citibank fraud a systemic failure: Complainant

Gurgaon: Sanjeev Aggarwal, a high networth individual whose FIR named Citibank CEO Vikram Pandit in the Rs.300 crore fraud in its Gurgaon branch, on Wednesday said it was a "systemic failure" and the chief executive cannot escape responsibility.

He told a press conference here that the bank had offered him a "settlement" a few days ago on his loss of Rs.33 crore but they suddenly turned quiet on the offer.

"It is a systemic failure" and the the CEO cannot escape from his responsibilities, he said when asked why he named top executives like Pandit and others in the FIR relating to the Rs.300 crore allegedly masterminded by Shivraj Puri, Relationship Manager in the Gurgaon branch.

Aggarwal said said he filed the complaint because the bank had offered him a "settlement" against his Rs 33 crore loss but became silent when he tried to contact them.

"At one point in time they (Citi Bank) were very keen on settlement…(but) one fine day we found that that process is not working any more," Aggarwal said.

When asked what settlement was offered, he said "they didn`t very clearly specify except that they wanted to know what it will take for us not to turn adversary." The offer was made to him about a week back, he claimed.

Local police registered a case on the basis of an FIR naming Pandit and 10 other officials filed Aggarwal, Managing Director, Helion Advisors, that accused the top executives of criminal breach of trust and cheating.

The others who have been named in the FIR include Citibank`s senior officials CFO John Gerspach and COO Doughlas Peterson (both based in New York).

The fraud at the bank`s Gurgaon branch, involving diversion of depositors money into the stock market was uncovered last week.

On the prospects of recovering his money, Aggarwal said he has been a long-time customer of the bank and "I would be very surprised if they left me in lurch".

To a query if he would take the FIR to its "logical conclusion", he said "our goal is two-fold. One we want Citi Bank to own up this debacle that has happened and to get compensation for losses."

Aggarwal said that Puri, with whom he had been dealing with for sometime, had used the blank papers with his (Aggarwal) signatures to make demand drafts by drawing money from his account.

He said he had a wealth management account with the Bank and Puri was giving him "soft copy" of his account statements from his official e-mail and hard copies to his chartered accountant.

Only after sometime, he could see a vast difference between the two accounts and then he started checking up with the bank, who told him that Puri was on leave.

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