US 'does not trust' Citi and Merrill

22 January 2008

America's faith in its own banking giants has seriously waned, with a new lack of trust in Citigroup and Merrill Lynch revealed in a survey.

Published by the Financial Times, a survey by Strategy One found that US citizens trusted the two big banks less after they received multi-billion dollar handouts from foreign sovereign wealth funds.

More than half of the people in the market research poll admitted they "trusted Citigroup less" after it received over $20 billion from investors, including the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation.

Some 45 per cent of people said that they trusted Merrill Lynch less after investors including Singapore's Temasek and the Kuwait Investment Authority ploughed $12 billion into the bank.

Just four per cent of people said they trusted Citigroup or Merrill more after they accepted money from abroad.

"The Citigroup figure is staggering," said Laurence Evans, president of Strategy One. "There is a xenophobic element to it. The biggest concern is uncertainty: people don't know how much influence sovereign wealth funds will have."

This news highlights the fears over sovereign wealth funds after key politicians have called for more transparency about their roles.

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