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Citigroup CEO targeted by hackers over protest arrests

CabinCr3w releases personal data on Citigroup's Vikram Pandit in retaliation for arrest of protesters during the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations this past weekend.

Vikram Pandit, chief executive of Citigroup
Vikram Pandit, chief executive of Citigroup

Hackers released personal information about the head of Citigroup today in retaliation for the arrest of protesters during the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations this weekend.

The data on Vikram Pandit, Citigroup's chief executive officer, includes phone numbers, address, e-mail address, family information, and some legal and financial information. It was released by CabinCr3w, which is affiliated with the Anonymous online activist group that has been involved in the monthlong protests.

"During Occupy Wall Street, protesters had made way to CitiBank to withdraw their funds and close their accounts," CabinCr3w wrote in a statement. "They were met with strong police presence and arrested. We as American citizens MUST have full control over our money and livelihood. When this is taken away from us, what else do we have? So the CEO of CitiBank has blindly jumped into the sights of the CabinCr3w..."

About two dozen people were arrested on criminal trespass charges in a Citibank branch in New York on Saturday afternoon, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"A large amount of protesters entered our branch at 555 La Guardia Place, New York City, around 2 p.m. today," Citibank said in a statement later that day. "They were very disruptive and refused to leave after being repeatedly asked, causing our staff to call 911. The police asked the branch staff to close the branch until the protesters could be removed. Only one person asked to close an account and was accommodated."

While protesters reportedly refused to leave, it's unclear what they were doing that was disruptive. Protesters seem peaceful and cooperative in this video, in which they also appear to be locked in the bank. Meanwhile, police are seen physically forcing a suit-wearing woman, with checkbook in hand, back into the bank.

Citigroup isn't the only bank that appears to be taking extreme measures in response to the account-closing campaigns. This video shows two woman who are carrying protest signs being told at a Bank of America branch in Santa Cruz, California, that they can't close their accounts while they are also protesting.

A statement from a Bank of America spokesperson to a Central Coast News reporter said: "It is our responsibility to ensure a safe environment for customers to conduct financial transactions. So, due to the disruptive nature of protests lately and the potential for safety or security issues, we do not allow protestors inside of our banking centers. If a customer who is participating in a protest wishes to conduct bank business, including close an account, we ask them to come back when they are not protesting or they may also conduct their bank business at a nearby branch away from protest activities."

Ironically, days before the Citigroup incident, Citigroup CEO Pandit had offered to meet with protesters, characterizing their complaints as "completely understandable."

"Trust has been broken between financial institutions and the citizens of the U.S., and that is Wall Street's job, to reach out to Main Street and rebuild that trust," he is quoted as saying last week in a Bloomberg report. "I'd talk about the fact that they should hold Citi and the financial institutions accountable for practicing responsible finance."

CabinCr3w is responsible for data dumps on other bankers as part of the protest movement, including the CEOs of JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, as well as a New York police officer who sprayed pepper spray into protesters faces.

Updated 3:05 p.m. PT with Pandit comments last week sympathizing with protesters.

Updated Oct. 25 at 10:40 PT p.m. with link to video of the Citibank incident and information on Bank of American policy that says protesters can't close accounts.