Citigroup brings on Weerasinghe as general counsel

Vikram Pandit

Citigroup has appointed Rohan Weerasinghe as general counsel to replace Michael Helfer, whole will focus on overseeing the bank’s implementation of Dodd-Frank.

Helfer served as general counsel at Citigroup for nine years, a time during which the company received $45 billion in government assistance. He will assume the position of vice chairman and remain on the company’s operating committee, a top management position, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Weerasinghe, currently a senior partner at Shearman & Sterling LLP, focuses primarily on corporate management and capital markets. He also leads the firm’s India practice group.

“Rohan has a great track record as an attorney,” Vikram Pandit, the CEO of Citigroup, said, according to The Wall Street Journal. “He has a strong international background,” Pandit added, noting that Weerasinghe’s experience in emerging markets will be beneficial for Citigroup as it seeks to expand into markets in Asia and Latin America.

“[Helfer] helped to see Citi through some of our company’s most crucial years. He worked closely with our regulators during the financial crisis, and he has been instrumental in the back-to-basics restructuring of our company,” Pandit said, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Helfer joined Citigroup in 2003 during a period when the corporation was still reeling from the Enron and Worldcom lawsuits. In 2008, Citigroup lost a bid to acquire Wachovia Corp. to rival Wells Fargo & Co., after which Helfer was sent to a judge’s home and tried unsuccessfully to save the acquisition.

Earlier this year, Citigroup and several other large financial institutions reached a $25 billion settlement with the government and states attorneys general on home foreclosures. The Federal Reserve, following the latest bank stress tests, recently turned down Citigroup’s appeal to return capital to its shareholders.

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