Citi named Johnbull Okpara its new controller and chief accounting officer, the bank announced Friday in a regulatory filing. Okpara replaces Jeff Walsh, who stepped in from retirement in February to serve in the interim role after Citi's former chief accountant, Raja Akram, left the bank.
Okpara is managing director and global head of financial planning and analysis and CFO for the infrastructure groups at Morgan Stanley — the same bank to which Akram left Citi in February to become deputy CFO.
"I'm thrilled that Johnbull is joining our team at Citi," Citigroup CFO Mark Mason said in an internal memo shared with Banking Dive. "Johnbull brings 28-years of experience in the industry with deep expertise in finance and accounting, and a reputation as a committed partner and leader. He will be an instrumental addition to the team as we continue our pursuit for operational excellence and a best-in-class control environment."
Citi's latest executive hire comes as the bank is making efforts to improve its risk management and controls, and follows reports that regulators have been pushing the bank for years to make such improvements.
Okpara will be responsible for the integrity and control of Citi's financial books and records, as well as the process by which reports are generated, Mason said in the memo to employees.
This includes corporate and regulatory reporting, accounting policy, booking model, balance sheet substantiation and ensuring that the business and regional franchise needs remain in focus, he said.
Okpara will also be responsible for improving the flow of data from business operating systems to the financial general ledger.
The bank's risk management practices faced scrutiny last month over an errant transmission of $900 million to creditors of cosmetics firm Revlon.
The error has reportedly prompted the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Reserve to consider reprimanding Citi for failing to improve its risk management system, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Regulatory pressure regarding the bank's risk management transformation accelerated CEO Mike Corbat's retirement timeline, sources told the Journal.
Citi spokeswoman Jennifer Lowney told Bloomberg it was always Corbat's plan to retire in 2021, but he hadn't discussed a specific timeline with his successor, Jane Fraser, or the bank's board, sources told the Journal.
"This will be a multiyear effort, and I believe it is best for the firm for my successor to lead this important work from the beginning," Corbat wrote in a memo to staff this month announcing his retirement, according to American Banker.
Okpara's position at Citi "will be effective as of the date that he is released from certain commitments to his current employer," the bank said in its regulatory filing.
Okpara, who is Black, will also make Citi's cadre of executives more diverse. The bank's CFO, Mason, is the only Black C-suite member among the top 80 executives at the nation's six largest banks, according to Bloomberg.
Okpara will be paid a base salary of $475,000 and will receive a 2020 bonus of $3.53 million, Citi said.
Prior to his role at Morgan Stanley, Okpara was managing vice president of finance and deputy controller at Capital One.