July 3, 2013 / 5:38 PM / 5 years ago

Dutch economist charged with stalking Citigroup chief economist

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Dutch economist has been arrested in New York for allegedly sending harassing emails to Citigroup Inc’s (C.N) global chief economist, Willem Buiter.

Heleen Mees, 44, a former adjunct professor at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, was charged with stalking and harassment this week after Buiter told police she had sent him a series of emails that ranged from obscene to threatening.

“Hope your plane falls out of the sky,” read one email, according to criminal court documents. “Shall we adopt a child?” another asked. Others included sexually explicit suggestions, the documents said.

In May, Buiter received an email from Mees with a photo of dead birds, the court papers said. Other emails included photos of naked women, as well as pictures of Mees naked and engaged in sexual activity.

Mees also emailed Buiter’s wife and children, according to the papers.

Under New York criminal law, electronic communication can form the basis for stalking and harassment charges.

The salacious details sparked a flurry of jokes on Twitter with the hashtag #Sexit, a reference to Grexit, the word coined by Buiter and fellow Citigroup analyst Ebrahim Rahbari to describe the possibility that Greece might exit the Euro Zone.

On her own Twitter feed, which has been quiet since the weekend, Mees posted links to several interviews with Buiter during the last few months. On February 7, she tweeted, “I’m with Buiter on this. The economic problems in Europe and the US are structural, not cyclical.”

Buiter, who is based in New York, told police Mees had sent him more than 1,000 emails over a two-year period. He sent Mees a cease-and-desist letter in February that had no effect, the court documents said.

Mees was ordered held on $5,000 bail after her arraignment and is due back in New York City Criminal Court on July 5.

Vaneshka Hyacinthe, Mees’ lawyer, did not respond to a request for comment. According to the Daily News, which first reported the allegations, Hyacinthe said Mees and Buiter had a “longstanding relationship” and “emails go in both directions.”

A Citigroup spokeswoman declined to comment on “the personal matters of our employees.” Mees and Buiter did not respond to emails seeking comment.

Mees’ 2012 doctoral thesis, “Changing Fortunes: How China’s Boom Caused the Financial Crisis,” bore the dedication, “For Willem.” In her acknowledgements, Mees thanked Buiter for meeting with her in 2008 to discuss the paper, written for Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Buiter, 63, is married to Anne Sibert, an economics professor at the University of London, and has two children. Before joining Citi in 2010 he worked as a policymaker for the Bank of England and as the chief economist for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

He has also taught at the London School of Economics, the University of Cambridge, Yale University and Princeton University, among others.

According to her NYU biography, Mees has authored three books. Her latest, “Between Greed and Desire: The World Between Wall Street and Main Street,” was published in 2009.

In 2006 she co-founded Women on Top, a group advocating for more women in top corporate jobs and company boards. An NYU spokesman said Mees taught a course last fall at the Wagner school but is not currently associated with the university.

Additional reporting by Jennifer Ablan; editing by Prudence Crowther

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