Citigroup Inc. spent about $3.5 million to provide rewards for top-performing advisers at its Smith Barney brokerage unit, funded by operating revenue to achieves a nearly 80 percent cost saving.

The associated press report, Smith Barney's top 500 brokers received debit card worth $3,000 each, $2,000 each $2,000 debit cards.

The company said, the payments are in place of three trips which were canceled earlier in the year trying to cut cost, adding that none of the money from the government investment is being used for the rewards.

In addition, Citi is selling a majority stake in Smith Barney to Morgan Stanley, which owns a majority stake in the firm of 51 percent, as part of its ongoing plans to reduce assets and try to regain profitability. Both firms merge their operations into a joint venture to be called Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.

Smith Barney generated $2.3 billion in revenue during the final quarter of 2008, a 17 percent decline from the same quarter a year earlier, and fell 3 percent to $10.24 billion for the year.