Charles Prince and Robert Rubin defended themselves against claims by members of a panel investigating Citigroup’s $45bn bailout that they should have known the bank’s investments in mortgage bonds were headed for collapse.

Prince, Citigroup’s former chief executive officer, and Rubin, who was head of the bank’s executive committee, said at a hearing yesterday in Washington that they weren’t aware of the size of Citigroup’s position in mortgage-related securities or the risks surrounding them.

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was mandated by Congress to produce a report by the end of this year on the causes of the financial crisis. Members of the panel criticised Prince and Rubin for arguing that virtually none of their peers on Wall Street predicted that securities carrying the highest ratings would bring on a global credit crisis.