Citigroup fined over €70m for ‘fat finger’ trading error

According to regulators, a trader intended to sell shares worth $58m but entered details valuing them at $444bn

UK regulators have fined Citigroup £62 million (€73 million) for failing to prevent a fat-fingered $1.4 billion (€1.3 billion) trading error that briefly convulsed European stock markets.

The incident in May, 2022 was one of several spanning a four-year period in which regulators say that Citi’s trading controls were inadequate.

As a result, the Financial Conduct Authority on Wednesday levied a £27.8 million fine on the US bank while the Prudential Regulation Authority, which conducted its own investigation, imposed a £33.9 million penalty.

“Firms involved in trading must have effective controls in place in order to manage the risks involved. CGML [Citigroup Global Markets Limited] failed to meet the standards we expect in this area, resulting in today’s fine,” said Sam Woods, chief executive of the PRA.


While the failures relate to the period between 2018 and 2022, the most notable incident was the mistaken sale of $1.4 billion of shares after a London-based trader typed in the wrong figures.

According to regulators, the trader intended to sell a basket of shares with a value of $58 million but entered details that instead created a basket valued at $444 billion.

Citi’s internal controls blocked $255 billion of the erroneous trade, but orders worth $189 billion were sent a trading algorithm to execute. About $1.4 billion of the shares were sold before the trader managed to cancel the order.

The incident triggered a brief sell-off across several European markets during what would normally have been a quiet Monday morning trading session.

Although parts of Citi’s trading control framework worked as expected, the FCA said that some primary controls were “absent or lacking”. There was no block in place that would have prevented such a large erroneous basket of shares reaching the market, it said.

It added that the trader was able to manually override a pop-up alert on the trade without having to scroll down to check which alerts were flagged. Citi’s real-time monitoring was ineffective, resulting in a slow response to the trades, the regulator said.

Citi agreed to settle the case and so qualified for a discount on the fines

In a statement, Citi said: “We are pleased to resolve this matter from more than two years ago, which arose from an individual error that was identified and corrected within minutes. We immediately took steps to strengthen our systems and controls, and remain committed to ensuring full regulatory compliance.”

It is not the first time Citi’s systems have been compromised by human error.

In 2020, the bank accidentally wired $900 million of its own money to creditors of cosmetics group Revlon, including hedge funds that refused to return it. Although a court forced the funds to return the money, US regulators fined Citi $400 million for failing to correct deficiencies in its risk and control systems, and ordered it to upgrade its processes and its technology.

Since becoming Citi chief executive in 2021, Jane Fraser has stressed that improving risk and controls are a priority for the bank. – Copyright The Financial Times