Citadel Loans Supported Chinese Surveillance

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Citadel made a major loan to a Chinese surveillance company in 2006. This shadowy company, which doesn’t even appear to have a website, has sold surveillance equipment to China’s Communist government.

From a new report from Crain’s Chicago Business:

…in 2006, Citadel loaned $110 million to China Security & Surveillance Technology. The company used the funds to acquire “10 of the 50 biggest surveillance companies in China.” That has opened it to charges that it “provid(ed) much of the surveillance infrastructure for the ruling Chinese Communist Party, including technology used to alert police of possible unsanctioned protests and internet cafes to track down democracy advocates and dissidents.”

Citadel CEO Ken Griffin doesn’t seem to find the loan problematic, according to a statement he released:

“In 2006, China Security & Surveillance Technology—a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange—was raising further capital to pursue growth opportunities. CS&ST was hoping to be selected as a key partner in providing security capabilities for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and the 2010 Shanghai World’s Fair to ensure those events would be safe for everyone.

So what does this company do? It appears to have gone private since Citadel’s loan, but here’s how the company described itself in an SEC annual report it filed while a public company:

We are primarily engaged, through our indirect Chinese subsidiaries, in the manufacturing, distributing, installing and servicing of surveillance and safety products, systems and services, and developing surveillance and safety related software primarily for governmental entities and their affiliates, non-profit organizations, and commercial entities in China.

In other words, the company sells surveillance gear to the Chinese government, among others. Citadel’s involvement with this business is concerning, given China’s oppressive surveillance of its population.

Ethnic and religious minorities such as Uyghur Muslims are particularly hard hit. From The Guardian:

The US has accused China of committing genocide and crimes against humanity for running a mass detention, repression and sterilization campaign against Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities. Countless reports have detailed detainees enduring torture, coerced abortions as well as re-education in what former secretary of state Mike Pompeo described as the “forced assimilation and eventual erasure” of Uyghurs by the Chinese government.

The surveillance system propped up by these often global companies serves to facilitate that genocide, argues Dolkun Isaa, president of the World Uyghur Congress advocacy group.

“The goal of these surveillance tactics is not only to instill fear in Uyghurs’ minds that every aspect of their behavior is monitored, but most importantly to single out Uyghurs for detention in the internment camp system,” Isaa said.

Griffin may be right that China Security & Surveillance Technology bid on an Olympic contract. But it appears that he and his company didn’t ask any questions about what else the company does.

Citadel’s “make money now, ask questions later” attitude has also made it a target of a federal investigation here in the US.

I only hope someone holds this company accountable.

More on markets:

Citadel Under Federal Investigation

Mass Firings at Citadel Right Before Federal Probe

NYSE Investigating Shopify Stock Plunge; Citadel Involved

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Photo: Citadel LLC CEO Kenneth Griffin

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