Last October when hundreds of people were camped out in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan‘s Occupy Wall Street protest , Citibank CEO Vikram Pandit said at a Fortune magazine breakfast in the city that, “I’d be happy to talk to them any time they want to come up. I’d talk about the fact that they should hold Citi and the financial institutions accountable for practicing responsible finance. Trust has been broken between financial institutions and the citizens of the U.S., and that is Wall Street’s job, to reach out to Main Street and rebuild that trust.”
But on April 26, Vikram Pandit’s voice mail inbox is full. Occupy Wall Street activists and others have bombarded the CEO of one of the banks seen responsible for the economic crisis with calls to chat about that accountability.
On Wednesday, members of Occupy Wall Street’s so-called Alternative Banking Group sent a letter to Pandit and asked him to sit down and discuss this matter, 99% to 1%. The letter arrives at a time when some Citi shareholders, namely Stanley Moskaly, sued Pandit for his $15 million paycheck. The suit comes four days after shareholders refused to ratify the bank’s executive pay packages at their annual meeting. The suit alleges Pandit’s exhorbitant pay violates the bank’s compensation policy, that states pay should correlate with share price. Citi’s revenue and share values fell last year.
See: Shareholder Sues Citi CEO Over Compensation–Wall Street Journal
The letter said, “The conclusions you come to will have a huge impact on Wall Street. The Alternative Banking Group, a working group of Occupy Wall Street, remains ready to sit down with you and share our perspective. But we must not wait any longer; the timing is urgent. Last October, you invited Occupy Wall Street to meet with you. On February 27, we accepted your offer. On March 7, your assistant told us that you had received our message and would get back to us shortly. We have yet to hear from you. We trust that you will keep your word and respond to us now.”
Americans blame Wall Street for the country’s economic woes, but they blame politicians even more. Congress’s approval rating is maybe 10%. President Barack Obama‘s approval rating has been below 50% for the last three years. In October, when Pandit said his office was open to Occupy complaints, a Gallup/USA Today poll found that 64% of Americans blamed Washington for the problems in the economy, while 30% blame major financial institutions instead.
Nevertheless, 78% of Americans said that Wall Street deserved “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of blame for the poor economy, and 87% said Washington either deserved “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of the blame.