Embattled banking giant Citigroup spent about $3.5 million to provide rewards for top-performing advisers at its Smith Barney brokerage unit.
The payments are in lieu of three trips Citi usually plans for its top revenue-generating advisers in the division. Those trips were canceled earlier in the year as Citi attempts to slash costs amid the ongoing economic downturn. Citi has posted five consecutive quarterly losses and received $45 billion in government assistance during the ongoing credit crisis and recession.
Many major financial firms that have received government funding in recent months have drastically scaled back spending on events and perks for employees amid growing anger from politicians in Washington about how they spend money.
Citi said none of the money from the government investment is being used for the rewards.
"This program is funded by operating revenue of Smith Barney and achieves a nearly 80 percent cost saving over some previous recognition programs," Citi spokesman Alex Samuelson said Monday.
Smith Barney generated $2.3 billion in revenue during the final quarter of 2008, a 17 percent decline from the same quarter a year earlier. For the year, revenue fell 3 percent to $10.24 billion.