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Citadel Securities Rents Out Palm Beach Hotel For Stock Traders

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Citadel Securities Rents Out Palm Beach Hotel For Stock Traders

Editor's note: this story has been updated with additional details and a comment from Citadel Securities. 

New York City has been on lockdown for all nonessential businesses since March 22 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The New York Stock Exchange trading floor is shut down, and Wall Street's financial services industry has largely moved online. 

Rather than work from home, billionaire Kenneth Griffin has reportedly moved his Citadel Securities team to the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, drawing criticism from some local Florida residents. 

Palm Beach County ordered local hotels to stop accepting new reservations as of March 26, but Citadel reportedly booked the entire Four Seasons ahead of the shutdown.

On April 1, Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a similar stay-at-home order for all nonessential businesses, including hotels. Griffin reportedly was a financial contributor to DeSantis’ 2018 campaign.

A Citadel Securities spokesman told Benzinga in an email that the Palm Beach office is a small, temporary one with about two dozen staffers. 

Citadel Sparks Local Controversy

Citadel Securities is a market-making firm, and the group reportedly set up a makeshift trading floor at the Four Seasons. 

In a memo obtained by Bloomberg, CEO Peng Zhao said the team plans to remain at the resort at all times to minimize health risks.

“This effort reflects our deep commitment to delivering on the liquidity needs of our clients through all conditions,” Zhao said.

In addition to campaign contributions to various local Republican politicians, Florida native Griffin has purchased more than $300 million in beachfront real estate.

Local residents have reported witnessing people on the resort’s property not following social distancing rules. Palm Beach officials said they have observed no violations of local laws at the resort, which is otherwise vacant. In fact, local law enforcement has said that under the circumstances, the resort is identical to a private residence, and Citadel employees are free to enjoy the property as they please.

Benzinga’s Take

It’s certainly debatable whether what Citadel has done in Florida is safe, wise and fair given the circumstances across the country. However, there’s no question money talks, and Griffin’s campaign contributions and real estate purchases could have earned him the benefit of the doubt in Palm Beach.

Do you agree with this take? Email feedback@benzinga.com with your thoughts.

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Photo: Palm Beach proper Florida photo by D Ramey Logan.jpg from Wikimedia Commons by D Ramey LoganCC-BY 4.0

 

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