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

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Democrats on Wednesday asked the Securities and Exchange Commission’s inspector general to investigate reports that Commissioner Michael Piwowar “may have abused his position” to pressure Citigroup Inc after the lender took a stance to tighten gun sales.

Michael Piwowar, Commissioner, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, speaks at 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 business clients that sell guns to require that customers pass background checks after the deadly Parkland, Florida high school shooting, drawing the ire of the U.S. gun lobby.

“Recent news reports indicate that the Commissioner ‘castigat[ed] them for straying into social policy’ while ‘glowering and speaking emphatically’ about guns,” the senators said 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 did not immediately return a request for comment.

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 decision, Bank of America said it would…

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