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Cablegate: Nomination for the Secretary's Corporate

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FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
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INFO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0299
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UNCLAS CARACAS 001781

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EB/CBA NSMITH-NISSLEY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: BEXP EINV ELAB ERTD SENV VE
SUBJECT: NOMINATION FOR THE SECRETARY'S CORPORATE
EXCELLENCE AWARD

REF: SECSTATE 064726

1. (U) Embassy Caracas is pleased to nominate Citibank
Venezuela for the Secretary's 2006 Award for Corporate
Excellence. American companies operating in Venezuela today
face significant challenges, including threats to property
rights and an uncertain judicial environment. Intense
adversarial U.S.-Venezuelan relations, occasional protests
(often BRV-orchestrated), and sporadic expressions of
anti-American sentiment create additional challenges for
Americans working in Venezuela. In the face of anti-private
sector and anti-U.S. rhetoric, Citibank has engaged its
community as an exemplary corporate citizen.

2. (U) Citibank focuses on building economically strong,
vibrant, and self-sustaining communities and schools with
both grants and contributions of volunteer time. Partnered
with Junior Achievement's Elementary School Program, Citibank
improved the infrastructure of two Caracas public schools and
provided courses about the economy, finance, and banking,
improving the quality of education for 1,813 students.
School infrastructure improvements included the installation
of doors and plumbing for bathrooms, waterproofing of the
roof, installation of water tanks, and repair of the control
board at the water pump rooms. Through the "Banks in Action"
program, Citibank also taught 30 high school students the
basics of banking, the importance of saving money, and how to
manage a bank. Since 2001, Citibank has supported Operation
Smile Venezuela, an organization that helps children with
cleft palate. During 2005, over 100 Citibank employees
volunteered in community activities.

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3. (U) As an example of competitive and innovative
activities, Citibank is committed to micro enterprises.
Citibank organized courses in entrepreneurship and
leadership, marketing, budgeting and cash flow, taxation, and
balance sheet management for micro enterprises. This
training helped entrepreneurs who were generally in the
start-up phases of their businesses. Citibank thus assisted
many Venezuelan entrepreneurs to start up their firms. For
2006, Citibank has designed programs to provide technical
assistance through volunteers to micro enterprises. In 2005,
Citibank bestowed its Global Micro Entrepreneurship Award on
the most successful micro enterprises in Venezuela -- 6 from
Caracas and 5 from the Provinces. Citibank commits
significant resources to the creation of such enterprises,
which are crucial to generating new jobs for Venezuelans and
improving the quality of life in their communities.

4. (U) As a good Corporate Citizen, Citibank scrupulously
complies with Venezuelan and U.S. laws, particularly with
respect to anti-money laundering and transparency. In 2005,
the Chavez Administration imposed increasing control over the
banking sector, directly affecting Citibank's business.
Citibank has adapted its business to the new requirements,
including implementing new compulsory loan categories
mandated by law at preferential interest rates. In this
challenging environment, Citibank developed an innovative
investment product, which LatinFinance magazine awarded as
the "2005 Deal of the Year" in derivatives. This credit
derivative for local currency sovereign bonds transfers local
currency default risk to investors, allowing financial
institutions to better manage their exposure. Citibank has
strong relationships with its labor unions and, based on
feedback from its employees through annual surveys,
continuously improves internal processes and procedures.

5. (U) At a time when the Venezuelan government is attacking
free enterprise writ large as the primary means of economic
development, as well as U.S. interests in the country, we
believe that recognizing Citibank's achievements and
steadfast commitment to corporate social responsibility and
corporate excellence in Venezuela would be especially
meaningful. While the Government is intentionally attempting
to sour relations with the United States -- which has made
some U.S. companies keep a low-profile -- Citibank is willing
to stand up and be counted.
WHITAKER

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