A former vice president in Citigroup’s treasury finance department, pleaded guilty today to bank fraud arising from his embezzlement of more than $22 million from Citigroup. The defendant, Gary Foster, entered his plea before a United States District Judge at a Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn.
In late June 2011, Foster, 35, was arrested and taken into custody at John F. Kennedy International Airport when he arrived on a flight coming from Bangkok. According to the FBI, between July 2010 and December 2010, Foster allegedly transferred $900,000 from Citigroup’s interest expense account and approximately $14.4 million from Citigroup’s debt adjustment account to the bank’s cash account, and then wired the money from Citigroup’s cash account to his personal account at another bank via eight separate wire transfers.
According to the criminal complaint, Foster used a fraudulent contract or deal number in the reference line of the wire transfer instructions to create the appearance that the transfers were in support of an existing contract.
“It’s unfortunate, but longtime employees, those at the top, and the key IT employees are best positioned to abuse their position to access accounts and systems within a financial organization,” Tom Leuchtner, director of Wolters Kluwer Financial Services’ Financial Crime Control business told SecurityWeek in June. “Therefore it’s absolutely critical for organizations to spot the common warning signs of internal fraud schemes early on, before the money leaves the building so to speak. Continually monitoring employee behavior and related transactions is essential in exposing any suspicious behavior and putting a stop to any fraudulent activity before it can become damaging to the organization.”
“The defendant violated his employer’s trust and stole a stunning amount of money over an extended period of time to finance his personal lifestyle,” stated United States Attorney Lynch.
According to a New York Times report, Foster owned six properties, including an apartment in Midtown Manhattan, two luxury apartments in Jersey City, a $1.35 million house in Tenafly, N.J., and a $3 million home in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. An official who was not authorized to speak about the investigation told the New York Times that Foster had a Ferrari on order.
Foster faces a maximum sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment on the bank fraud charges.