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Hey, Somebody’s Spending That TARP Money — Citigroup Got a New Corporate Jet

As I mentioned earlier, the economy is in trouble not just because major banks aren’t lending all that government bailout money out to business and consumers. It’s also that the lending actually decreased in the last quarter, despite the billions of dollars the banks received under the Troubled Assets Relief Program.

But it looks like at least one bank is finding a way to spend that TARP money. The New York Post reports that Citigroup just bought a new $50 million corporate jet.

From The Post:

Even though the bank’s stock is as cheap as a gallon of gas and it’s burning through a $45 billion taxpayer-funded rescue, the airhead execs pushed through the purchase of a new Dassault Falcon 7X, according to a source familiar with the deal. The French-made luxury jet seats up to 12 in a plush interior with leather seats, sofas and a customizable entertainment center, according to Dassault’s sales literature. It can cruise 5,950 miles before refueling and has a top speed of 559 mph. There are just nine of these top-of-the-line models in the United States, with Dassault’s European factory churning out three to four 7Xs a month. Citigroup decided to get its new wings two years ago, when the financial-services giant was flush with cash, but it still intends to take possession of the jet this year despite its current woes, the source said.

This should go over big in Washington. I guess those Citigroup execs didn’t pick up any of that sense of public outrage when auto executives flew in corporate jets to Washington to ask for money.

I’d expect the next round of TARP funds to include some exclusions on corporate perks like luxury jets. It’s hard to believe lawmakers actually would have to put something like that in writing. But Citigroup proves that in the financial industry, taking government money apparently doesn’t mean cutting back on those little perks.

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