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CNBC: Ex-Citigroup CEO Weill Declines Comment on SEC Probe

In an interview with CNBC, former Citigroup chief executive Sandy Weill declined to comment on a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the financial giant's accounting and tax reserves related to its $31 billion purchase in 2000 of Associates First Capital.

Weill was CEO of Citigroup until October 2003, when he handed the reins to the current chief, Chuck Prince. A Citigroup spokeswoman also declined to comment.

In its annual report filed with the SEC, New York-based Citigroup said the Associates probe covers its treatment of "certain specific tax reserves and releases during the period 2000 to 2004" related to the consumer and commercial finance company, which it bought in the fourth quarter of 2000.

The largest U.S. bank also provided more details into the agency's long-running probe into its activities in Argentina. It said that probe concerns its treatment of "certain potential Argentina-related losses" in 2001's fourth quarter.

Citigroup had previously said it believed that probe stemmed from its accounting for investments, business activities and loan-loss allowances in the fourth quarter of 2001 and first quarter of 2002. The bank in 2001 and 2002 took about $2.2 billion of charges related to Argentina.

In connection with these matters, the SEC has subpoenaed witness testimony and information related to accounting and internal controls from 1997 to 2004, Citigroup said. The bank said it is cooperating with the agency.

Weill also told CNBC that he's still an advocate of Citi's financial supermarket business model, even though it has come under attack in recent years.

"The model really works," Weill told CNBC. "It's a very good time in the economy. Emerging market countries are doing well so you're seeing everyone contributing to a prosperity that is global. I would rather be with the company that has a strong capital base and a diversity of income by products and regions. If things do get negative, that will be a real good opportunity for Citigroup to accelerate what they are doing because they'll be able to do it more reasonably."