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Cablegate: Costa Rican 2008 Nomination for the Secretary of State's

VZCZCXYZ0015
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0504/01 1642020
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 122020Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9839

RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000504

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN RBEAL, WHA/EPSC JSALAZAR, EEB/EPPD NSMITH-NISSLEY

E.0. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EINV ELAB CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICAN 2008 NOMINATION FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S
AWARD FOR CORPORATE EXCELLENCE.

REF. SECSTATE 34994

1. Embassy San Jose is pleased to nominate CitiGroup (hereafter
Citi) in Costa Rica for the multinational enterprise (MNE) category
of the Secretary of State's Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE).
Citi is headquartered in the United States and operates in over 100
countries around the world. Citi in Costa Rica has an excellent
record in each of the eight ACE criteria and is worthy of particular
commendation in the areas of "Good Corporate Citizenship,"
"Exemplary Employment Practices," and "Contribution to the Rule of
Law and Overall Growth and Development of the Local Economy."

--------------------------
Good Corporate Citizenship
--------------------------

2. Citi takes a leadership role in making Costa Rica a better place
to live and work, striving to improve the communities in which the
bank operates by focusing in three areas: education, economic and
community development, and quality of life. Citi is currently
promoting the second annual "Costa Rican Micro Entrepreneurship Citi
Award" in cooperation with a local NGO. The main goal of the award
is to promote the role of micro credit to ameliorate poverty, and to
highlight and promote the importance of micro entrepreneurs in the
Costa Rican economy.

3. Citi also has two strong and effective programs focused on
individuals and quality of life. "Amigos del Aprendizaje" (ADA) is
a program designed to prevent children from dropping out at the
elementary level and to strengthen early literacy. Through teacher
training, parent involvement, and volunteerism, this program has
been widely successful. With the help of the Citi Foundation and
volunteers from Citi in Costa Rica, 150 children benefit from ADA
each year. The total number of Citi volunteers is 12 and, as a
group, they have contributed more than 60 hours annually towards
this effort since 2006. Citi also has a longstanding relationship
with Habitat for Humanity, donating funds each year to help Habitat
for Humanity make dreams a reality and encouraging Citi employees to
volunteer in helping to build homes for families. Citi volunteers
also work with Habitat to educate families in financial literacy
during the year.

4. For the last nine years, Citi has supported the program "Banks in
Action," which is a business simulation program of the banking
industry where students learn and practice how to manage a bank.
Thus far, over 5000 Costa Rican students in their fourth year in
Technical High Schools have completed the program.

------------------------------
Exemplary Employment Practices
------------------------------

5. Citi's exemplary business practices include compliance with all
local labor laws as well as added benefits to ensure that Citi
employees have excellent working conditions. Citi is committed to
promoting ethics, diversity, and transparency in the work place as
part of a strong Corporate Governance strategy.

6. During the past year, Citi has been integrating the purchases of
Banco Cuzcatln and Banco Uno into Citi Costa Rica, which has
provided opportunities to reinforce the Citi culture among this
group of new employees. Specific measures have included policies
targeting discrimination, sexual harassment, and hostile work
environment. One telling statistic has been the relatively high
number of women in Citi Costa Rica upper-management (42 percent
female, 58 percent male) and middle management (60 percent women, 40
percent men).

--------------------------------------------- ---------
Contribution to the Rule of Law and Overall Growth and Development
of the Local Economy
--------------------------------------------- ---------

7. Citi is unique among US banks in that it has operated in Costa
Rica as a fully embedded financial services institution since 1968.
In 1996, the GOCR reformed the banking sector, allowing private
banks to offer retail services similar to the state banks. As a
result, the banking sector has been one of the most dynamic in the
Costa Rican economy, with regulatory agencies, public banks and
private banks growing and learning together. As the only US bank
operating in the country since the beginning of the reforms, Citi
has helped create and maintain the necessary dialogue and growth.
Citi has consistently supported the GOCR and regulators with their
specific events by collaborating with regional speakers who offer
their opinion and analysis on different issues, economic trends, and
other issues such as financial services. Furthermore, Citi has
shared expertise and best practices to prevent fraud and promote
awareness of this topic with the banking community and regulators.

8. Citi has brought innovation to the financial services industry by

introducing world-class products uncommon in the Costa Rican
markets. Citi states that it is currently the only bank in Costa
Rica that has successfully executed local currency fx-hedging
alternatives and derivatives (interest rate hedging alternatives)
such as swaps, caps, and collars. As the Central Bank of Costa
Rica (BCCR) promotes the transition of Costa Rica's currency market
to a "managed float", such experience on the part of a leading local
bank is and will continue to be invaluable.

9. Citi has also been a leader in the local electronic inter-banking
payment system (SINPE) which allows local and international
companies operating in Costa Rica to make vendor, payroll, and other
payments electronically while ensuring world class information
security standards. During 2007, Citi Costa Rica was the leader in
Direct Credit with 197,336 transactions, boosting SINPE's image in
the market and helping confirm the legitimacy of the local payments
system.

10. In recognition of Citi's beneficial impact in Costa Rican
society and in the banking sector, the Embassy is pleased to
nominate CitiGroup in Costa Rica for the Secretary's Corporate
Service Award.

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