Re-examining Citi’s Historical Connections to Slavery in the U.S.

July 27, 2023
Edward Skyler, Head of Enterprise Services and Public Affairs

Inequities resulting from the United States' history of slavery have shaped barriers that Black communities continue to face more than 150 years after the abhorrent practice was abolished. Looking back at our history as a company which was founded while slavery was still legal, we have always been mindful about what operating at that time could have entailed. For that reason, approximately two decades ago we conducted research to understand possible ties our bank may have had to the institution of slavery. At that time, we did not find records providing evidence of any direct involvement. Last year, consistent with our Action for Racial Equity (ARE) commitment, and in light of an increase in the accessibility of information on the topic, we refreshed our research with the assistance of an independent and experienced historical research firm.

This latest review of our records largely reaffirmed our previous research in that it did not identify any records showing that Citi or a predecessor institution directly purchased, sold or held enslaved persons. Our added layers of diligence did allow us to learn that some Citi predecessor entities likely indirectly profited from the institution of slavery through financial transactions and relationships with individuals and entities located or operating in the United States before 1866. In line with our commitment to transparency, a research summary is available here.

Although the focus of our historic records review was Citi’s own activity, we acknowledge that people who played important roles in Citi’s history had ties to the slave trade. For example, as previously disclosed, one of the early presidents of a predecessor entity, the City Bank of New York, Moses Taylor, had external businesses with accounts at Citi which imported sugar from Cuban plantations that used slave labor. Additionally, other founding or early directors of City Bank of New York likely owned enslaved persons.

So, what does this mean for us today? We see it as reaffirming the call to action which inspired ARE. We remain committed to doing our part to close the racial wealth gap by expanding financial inclusion in communities of color, supporting the visions of diverse entrepreneurs and much more. None of this changes the past but it can help make for a more equitable future.

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