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Citi's equities professionals are complaining about two current employees

Citi is in the middle of a major restructuring that will ultimately see 20,000 of global employees disappear. Some of the people it seemingly intends to keep, though, are at the center of complaints about the culture in its equities sales and trading division. 

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Bloomberg's latest article decrying the historic culture in Citi's equities business cites two senior people who are current in key positions: Salima Habib and Fater Belbachir. 

Habib, who was promoted to oversee equity sales in North America at Citi in January 2024, is accused by Bloomberg of having downplayed a junior employee's complaint about being asked to shorten her skirt and to wear high heels while fielding inquiries from male employees about her love life. Bloomberg says the junior claimed that Habib advised her to talk to a manager, to confront the man directly, or to try meditation but that going through HR would be arduous. Citi declined to comment for this article, but a spokesman told Bloomberg that the comments from the anonymous sources on Habib had been,"mischaracterized and are not consistent with her record of supporting and empowering women throughout her career.”

Bloomberg's latest piece also refers to the complaints made by Citigroup Ardith Lindsey against London-based Fater Belbachir, the bank's global head of equities. Belbachir is not a defendant in Lindsey's case, but she claims that he helped to create a sexist environment in Citi's trading business, which included supporting Lindsey's abusive ex and her superior, Citi MD Mani Singh. Citi told Bloomberg: “The reference to Mr. Belbachir is based on an unsubstantiated claim in a lawsuit that Citi is strongly contesting.”

Irrespective of Lindsey's allegations, Citi insiders suggest that Belbachir is unpopular among some people internally. Hired from Barclays in 2020, he spent much of his career at JPMorgan and is accused by some Citi employees of hiring and favoring his own people. They allegedly include Yohann Freoa, who joined from Barclays in 2021 as head of flow trading for delta one and convertible bonds.

Some of Belbachir's alleged favorites have disappeared, however. Dirk Keijer, head of equities trading for Europe, was cut in November 2023. Tom Lynch, who he hired in 2022 as head of prime sales, was cut in January 2024, in a move which some suggest is symptomatic of a lack of strategy in the equities business. 

There are no implications that Keijer or Lynch were cut for reasons linked to the complaints by Lindsey or the broader accusations of sexism in Citi's equities team. Some of those mentioned in Lindsey's complaint have been cut, though. - Tim Gately, the US head of equity sales, was also cut in January '24. Gately, who is also not a defendant in Lindsey's case, is accused by Lindsey of praising her abusive ex, despite being aware of his poor treatment to her. 

Bloomberg said today that Citi also dismissed a junior equities trader who'd been showing the underwear of a woman he'd purportedly slept with. Dan Keegan, who ran Citi's equities trading business at the time, left in 2022 to start an investment fund focused on fintech opportunities. There is no implication that he was directly involved in any of the sexism allegations.

One senior ex-Citi equities trader in London, says he saw no sign of the sexist environment alleged by Bloomberg or Lindsey and that the problem seemed to originate in the US. "If anything, the macro team had a worse reputation," he suggests.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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