) --


(C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report

may end up being the last major bank trapped by TARP, and that's its own fault.

It can't match the financial muscle of

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (GS) Report


Morgan Stanley

(MS) - Get Morgan Stanley (MS) Report



(JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Report

, which all repaid the taxpayer bailout money they received.

And it can't follow

Bank of America's

(BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Report

lead and rush through a

TheStreet Recommends

stock sale

to help buy its way out of the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Citigroup is trapped by its own missteps. After making the ill-advised decision to force shareholders to accept a conversion of the government's preferred shares into common shares, Citigroup is now stuck with the U.S. Treasury Department as 34% stakeholder.


Citigroup executives are frustrated

because they can't sell stock to raise cash and repay the remaining $20 billion owed to Uncle Sam until the Treasury signals what it will do with its 7.7 billion shares, people familiar with the situation told Bloomberg.

Such whining only makes Citigroup look weaker.

By contrast,

Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Wells Fargo & Company Report

doesn't appear to be in any particular hurry to exit TARP and it doesn't talk much about repaying the bailout funds it received.

You also don't hear much about Wells Fargo's independence being compromised, but then Wells received only $25 billion in taxpayer funds compared with $45 billion pumped into Bank of America and Citigroup.

Besides, it's hard to question the independence of a company whose chairman publicly called the government's stress tests for banks "asinine."

Citigroup lacks that kind of bravado, but that's hard to muster after playing a losing hand.

--Written by Glenn Hall in New York.

Follow on


and become a fan on


TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.