Washington–In a surprise move, Citigroup’s Indian-American chief executive Vikram Pandit has stepped down ending his tumultuous five-year reign atop the banking giant that he had nursed to recovery through the financial crisis.

The move that sent shock waves through the financial world came just one day after Citigroup wowed Wall Street with solid third-quarter earnings. Citigroup’s President and COO John Havens also resigned.

Citigroup’s board of directors appointed Michael Corbat, who headed the bank’s operations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, as the bank’s new CEO.

The India’s Nagpur-city-born Pandit, who was named the new CEO of Citigroup Dec 11, 2007, replacing interim-CEO Sir Winfried Bischoff worked for two years for a salary of $1 a year as he nursed the ailing bank to recovery.

In January 2011, Pandit’s annual base was raised to $1.75 million for the progress Citi made under his leadership. After posting five consecutive quarterly profits, Citigroup in May 2011 announced $23.2 million retention award to Pandit making him one of the highest paid CEOs. However, in April 2012, shareholders voted against increasing his pay to $15 million.

“Thanks to the dedication and sacrifice of people across Citigroup, we have emerged from the financial crisis as a strong institution,” said Pandit in a company statement.

“Citigroup is well-positioned for continued profitability and growth, having refocused the franchise on the basics of banking.”

“Given the progress we have made in the last few years, I have concluded that now is the right time for someone else to take the helm at Citigroup,” he said

“Mike is the right person to tackle the difficult challenges ahead, with a 29-year record of achievement and leadership at this Company,” he said. I will truly miss the wonderful people throughout this organisation. But I know that together with Mike they will continue to build on the progress we have made.”

“We respect Vikram’s decision,” said Michael E. O’Neill, chairman of the Citigroup Board of Directors in a company statement.

“Since his appointment at the start of the financial crisis until the present time, Vikram has restructured and recapitalised the Company, strengthened our global franchise and re-focused the business.”

“The Board and I are grateful to Vikram for his leadership, integrity and resilience in guiding Citi through the crisis and positioning it well for the future. We wish him all the best with the next stage in his career. IANS