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Jack has been through a vetting process before,” he told reporters at a briefing.

Mr. Lew’s ties to Citigroup received only passing mention at his confirmation before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last year.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, Georgia Republican, asked Mr. Lew about what sorts of alternative investments he handled at Citigroup.

“They ranged from private equity investments to real estate investments and various forms of fixed-income investments,” he answered. He also said that as chief budget officer he wouldn’t participate in any matters “that have particular impact on Citigroup.”

Under Mr. Obama’s ethics rules, political appointees are barred from participating in any “particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related” to former employers or clients.

Mr. Lew left Citigroup on Jan. 5, 2009, records show.

The payout of bonuses to executives at Wall Street firms that accepted federal bailout money has been getting renewed attention in Washington lately.

Kenneth Feinberg, the Obama administration’s special master for executive compensation, issued a report last week that found about $1.6 billion in bonuses paid out to executives by companies that took bailout money. Though calling the payments ill-advised, he didn’t request a refund.

The report questioned the bonuses to executives at Citigroup, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp. and other big firms. The report did not mention any executives by name.

“We basically examined each of the banks, each of these firms, and concluded that it was ill advised to give this much money with so little guidance,” Mr. Feinberg told Bloomberg News last week. “People receiving top money and then exiting the company as they walk out the door, getting large severance payments. This is what we focused on.”

Still, Mr. Feinberg said that at the time the payments were made they did not violate any statutes or regulations.