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Northern Trust bank questioned on star-studded golf tourney sponsorship

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Chicago-based bank Northern Trust, which received bailout money from the government even though it characterizes itself as “healthy,” is under fire for its sponsorhip of the Northern Trust Open golf tournament in Los Angeles last week. In addition to backing the event, TMZ claims Northern Trust also flew hundreds of clients and employees to LA, put them up in pricey hotels, and treated them to various dinner parties that included private performances by Sheryl Crow, Chicago, and Earth, Wind & Fire. In a lengthy statement to TMZ, Northern Trust acknowledges that it footed the bill for the client events, and that it was in the second year of a five-year contract to sponsor the PGA tournament, which is an integral part of the bank’s global marketing strategy. Northern Trust also says it did not request bailout money, but “agreed to the government’s goal of gaining the participation of all major banks in the United States.” It maintains that funds from the U.S. Treasury’s Capital Purchase Program, which are not allocated for the purposes of marketing and corporate sponsorship, were not used for the tournament or the events surrounding it. “These are funded through our normal cash flow. Last year, Northern Trust earned operating net income of $641 million.”