Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Levin livid over reported Citigroup jet purchase

Levin livid over reported Citigroup jet purchase

By TODD SPANGLER

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Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan is beside himself over a report that Citigroup is buying a $50-million corporate jet considering that when the heads of Detroit’s automakers came to Washington in private jets to ask for aid they got blasted for it.

The federal government, after all, is into Citigroup for $50 billion under its package to rescue financial firms. Eventually — thanks to President George W. Bush — General Motors and Chrysler got a line on $17.4 billion, but only after agreeing to give up their corporate jets. (Chrysler didn’t own one, but now doesn’t even charter or lease one.)

No such requirement for Citigroup — or the other financial institutions getting money under the $700 billion Wall Street rescue plan — exists.

The New York Post, citing “a source familiar with the deal,” reported today that Citigroup executives authorized the purchase of a new Dassault Falcon 7X, which, according to the Dassault’s sales literature, seats 12 in leather seats and sofas and includes a custom entertainment center.

Citigroup decline to speak to the Post and didn’t immediately return a call to the Free Press today either.

Said Levin: “To permit Citigroup to purchase a plush plane — foreign-built no less — while domestic auto companies are being required to sell off their jets is a ridiculous double standard.”

And the Michigan Democrat is planning to take it even further, just as soon as President Barack Obama’s pick for treasury secretary — Tim Geithner — is confirmed. Levin says he’s urging Geithner “to do what he can to stop this absurdity from occurring.”

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