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Global Inner Cities Report - October 31, 2005

 At the United Nations Environment Program Financial Initiative meeting on October 26, there was bragging about Citigroup’s micro-finance programs. But when the head of Citigroup’s microfinance group was asked about the relation between his unit and the larger subprime CitiFinancial was, he referred to “CitiFinancial and other micro-finance institutions” wanting effective regulation and transparency. His answer -- which a number of observers including from Citigroup's peer banks and rating agencies noted was not at all responsive -- ignored that Citigroup has lobbied against regulation and transparency; it also implies that Citigroup is including its high-cost CitiFinancial unit in its definition of micro-finance. Also not addressed: Deutsche Bank’s failure to respond to a complaint to the UN Global Compact (by ICP/Fair Finance Watch) regarding Deutsche Bank’s business with the dictator of Turkmenistan. For shame...

   In other portions of the meeting, in a session called “Lending for a sustainable future,” a representative from Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi claimed that “since civil society in Japan is not mature,” only the banks can improve society. In the micro-finance session, the moderator said that in a recent trip to India she’s found that a microfinance institution is about to get paid to be a distribution channel for the product of Proctor & Gamble…

Click here for Inner City Press’ October 31 review of a recent (2005) book about the United Nations.  -by staff reporter Matthew Lee



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