Citigroup exit shows foreign banks ‘cherry pick’, says NUBE

NUBE general secretary J Solomon said multinational banks focus only on ‘big bucks’ like corporate Malaysia and wealthy individuals.

PETALING JAYA: The decision by Citigroup to exit from consumer operations in Malaysia shows that rich multinational banks discriminate and cherry pick by focusing on the big players while ignoring others, according to the National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE).

NUBE general secretary J Solomon said the bank had also left many questions unanswered, especially on the fate of its workers who have served the organisation diligently for over 60 years in Malaysia.

According to reports, Citigroup has 11 branches and three service centres employing more than 6,000 employees in Malaysia.

“The CEO of the bank has not commented on the long-term job security of the staff, arising from the bank’s exit from retail operations in Malaysia.

“Instead, he merely offered a vague statement that there would be no immediate changes to staffing requirements, which is hardly comforting for the workers as their future prospects with the bank are in serious doubt,” he said in a statement.

He said the bank had not informed NUBE or its staff on what was actually going on.

J Solomon.

Solomon said although the CEO had invited NUBE for a meeting this week, the lack of information and the absence of any clear commitment from Citibank to ensure workers keep their jobs was unacceptable.

Last week, Citigroup announced its intention to exit from its consumer operations in Malaysia and run its operations from other countries, among them, Singapore.

The bank stated that its focus was essentially on strong growth and attractive returns the wealth management business offers.

“The bank’s latest move to focus exclusively on institutional business is the height of cherry picking and discriminatory business practices in the country. The least profitable side of banking is ignored despite being an essential service to the people.

“Instead, the bank just wants to focus on where the big bucks are, namely corporate Malaysia and wealthy individuals,” he said.

Solomon said Citibank was among a host of multinational banks which were given licences to operate in Malaysia decades ago after they gave their commitment to respect international conventions and provide equal access to the consumer banking needs of both rural and urban needs.

However, he said banks like Citibank ignored these pledges by choosing to operate almost exclusively in major urban centres and reaping hefty profits that are repatriated to their home countries.

“This practice has continued unabated for many years as there was no intervention by the government or Bank Negara. This must be stopped immediately before more B40 and M40 workers become victims of this greed,” he said.