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Citigroup, JPMorgan, in Bizarre Small Bank Love Triangle: Street Whispers

Stocks in this article: JPM C

Asked if Dimon is his first choice, Fine said the ICBA doesn't have a first choice but would be happy with most of the possible Treasury Secretary candidates whose names have been surfaced in the media since the Presidential election, including White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, possibly the most often talked about potential nominee to replace the outgoing Tim Geithner.

But at least as odd as the ICBA's endorsement of Dimon last week was hearing Citigroup executive James Garnett lobby Congress on behalf of community banks.

Speaking before the House Financial Services Committee in a hearing on the proposed capital rules known as Basel III, Garnett said the regime "poses greater operational and compliance challenges for community banks than for large banks." In fact, Garnett devoted about 10% of hid prepared testimony to defending the interests of community banks.

It is not uncommon for the big banks to use small banks for cover to promote their own agenda, as they did lobbying against lower debit card swipe fees under the Durbin Amendment. In this instance, however, Citigroup seemed to be saying it could handle tougher rules than the smaller banks.

So thoughtful of you, Citigroup, but what do you expect in return?

That's hard to say. Though ICBA Chairman-elect William Loving, President and CEO of Pendleton Community Bank, in Franklin, WV, testified at the same hearing as Citigroup's Garnett, Fine said he was entirely unaware of Garnett's kindness--even a day after the hearing. He didn't even know who Garnett was, he said.

A Citigroup spokeswoman wrote via email that "the Committee's invitation letter specifically asked Jim to address capital requirements for banks of different sizes and types in his testimony."

Okay, that's fine, bankers, but let's try and bring back the hate in the New Year.

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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