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Senate Democrats seek probe of SEC official’s comments to Citi on guns

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Democrats on Wednesday requested the Securities and Exchange Commission’s inspector normal to examine studies that Commissioner Michael Piwowar “may have abused his position” to stress Citigroup Inc after the lender took a stance to tighten gun gross sales.

Michael Piwowar, Commissioner, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, speaks on the Milken Institute 21st Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S. April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Citigroup in March put restrictions on new retail enterprise shoppers that promote guns to require that prospects move background checks after the lethal Parkland, Florida highschool taking pictures, drawing the ire of the U.S. gun foyer.

“Recent news reports indicate that the Commissioner ‘castigat[ed] them for straying into social policy’ while ‘glowering and speaking emphatically’ about guns,” the senators stated in a letter.

“Most concerning are reports that Commissioner Piwowar delivered a ‘thinly veiled threat’ by suggesting that the Commission would withhold support for Citigroup’s regulatory request due to the company’s unrelated and entirely lawful corporate practices relating to firearms.”

The SEC didn’t instantly return a request for remark.

The letter was signed by Democratic Senators Chris Van Hollen, Kamala Harris, Christopher Murphy, Richard Blumenthal, Robert Menendez and Dianne Feinstein.

Weeks after Citigroup’s determination, Bank of America stated it could not lend to firms that make military-style firearms for civilians. The banks quickly got here underneath assault from Gun Owners of America and the National Rifle Association.

Piwowar made the “troubling remarks” to Citigroup executives throughout an April 24 assembly to focus on derivatives regulation, in accordance to the letter, launched by Van Hollen’s workplace.

“While we are not advocating for or taking a position on the regulatory matter that was the subject of the meeting, we do have concerns that Commissioner Piwowar may have abused his government position in an attempt to unduly influence Citigroup to reverse a business decision that conflicts with his personal and political views,” it stated.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe

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