NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former U.S. Treasury secretary Robert Rubin said the near-collapse of Citigroup Inc , where he is a senior counselor, was due to the buckling financial system and not his own mistakes, according to an interview published on The Wall Street Journal's website on Friday.
Rubin, who is also a director at Citigroup, acknowledged he was involved in a board decision to ramp up risk-taking in 2004 and 2005, according to the paper, and said if executives had executed the plan properly, the bank's losses would have been less.
The Journal said Rubin has earned $115 million in pay since 1999, excluding stock options.
"I bet there's not a single year where I couldn't have gone somewhere else and made more," said Rubin, according to the Journal.
Rubin cited former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan as another example of someone whose reputation has been unfairly damaged by the financial crisis, according to the Journal
The paper reported that Rubin said of the current crisis: "what came together was not only a cyclical undervaluing of risk (but also) a housing bubble and triple-A ratings were misguided," he said. "There was virtually nobody who saw that low-probability event as a possibility."
Rubin told the Journal that the Citigroup board could bear some responsibility and that some things should have been done differently.
The former Treasury secretary also gave his support to Citigroup chief executive Vikram Pandit.
"Vikram runs this company on a worst reasonable case for this economy. Essentially, the pieces of Citi will look how they do today," the Journal quotes Rubin as saying.
Citigroup could not immediately be reached for comment.
(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Bernard Orr)