Sameer Kaul has been appointed Citi’s new head of India private banking, the US lender said in a statement yesterday. He replaced Tashwinder Singh and took up his new position on March 1.
Kaul was previously head of Citi’s retail branch operations in India, which made him responsible for commercial banking and wealth advisory businesses throughout the country. Sandeep Bhalla, in another internal move, has now taken over that role.
“With his leadership and proven ability in building businesses, we look forward to [Kaul] taking the private bank in India to the next level,” said Bassam Salem, Asia-Pacific CEO of Citi Private Bank.
Kaul remains in Mumbai and reports jointly to Salem and to Pramit Jhaveri, CEO of Citi India.
Kaul is a Citi veteran with 17 years' experience at the bank. He joined as a management associate in 1995 after gaining an MBA from the University of Illinois. He has subsequently held various positions in operations, product management, insurance distribution, mortgages and commercial banking in general.
Citi Private Bank has one of the biggest private bank businesses in Asia. At the end of 2011, its assets under management in the region (excluding Japan) totalled $193 billion, up from $179 billion a year earlier.
Globally, it claims to have “relationships with a third of all billionaires". Its network consists of more than a thousand private bankers and investment professionals across 46 countries and jurisdictions. Citi Private Bank’s products and services range from exposure to capital markets, managed investments, portfolio management, investment finance, and trust and estate planning to art, aircraft and sports advice.
However, Citi has had problems in India. Most recently one of Citibank’s relationship managers at a branch in Gurgaon, a high-technology hub near New Delhi, was arrested in December 2010 for allegedly colluding to defraud wealth management customers of more than $67 million. The case against the manager, Shivray Puri, is still underway. Citigroup Inc, the parent company, said early last year that it had spotted the fraud in its branch and had helped initiate the case against Puri.
Citi has operated in India for more than 100 years and currently has 42 branches in the country. But, foreign banks have a limited presence in India. There are 32 of them with a little over 300 branches – less than 1% of the country’s total number.