Citi Hit with £61 Million Fine for Erroneous $189 Billion Algorithmic Order Involving Bitcoin (BTC)

Citi fined £61 million after $189 billion algo order by mistake

May 22, 2024 10:46 am UTC, Rick Steves

  • The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has imposed a hefty fine on Citigroup for a significant trading error that led to a large-scale market disruption.
  • This incident highlights critical vulnerabilities in the financial institution’s algorithmic trading systems.
  • Steve Smart, joint executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, emphasized the importance of robust market controls to prevent such occurrences.

This article delves into the details of the trading mishap at Citigroup, examining the implications for regulatory measures and algorithmic trading.

Massive Trading Error Leads to Regulatory Scrutiny

On May 2, 2022, a Citigroup trader mistakenly entered an order of US$444 billion instead of the intended US$58 million. This error was partially mitigated by internal controls, which blocked US$255 billion, but the remaining US$189 billion proceeded to the market. This led to the sale of US$1.4 billion worth of equities across European markets, causing a temporary but significant drop in market indices.

Investigation Reveals Lack of Adequate Safeguards

The FCA’s investigation into the incident revealed that Citigroup’s trading controls were insufficiently robust to prevent or quickly rectify such a substantial error. The absence of a hard block for large orders and the ability for traders to override alerts without full compliance checks were critical failings identified by the regulator.

Implications for Future Trading Regulations

The Citigroup case serves as a stark reminder of the potential market risks associated with algorithmic trading. Regulatory bodies are likely to tighten controls and impose stricter requirements for algorithmic trading to ensure similar errors can be prevented in the future.


This incident not only resulted in significant financial penalties for Citigroup but also sparked a broader discussion about the need for enhanced regulatory frameworks in algorithmic trading. Moving forward, financial institutions must reassess their systems and controls to align with the increasing complexity and speed of financial markets.

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