Person of Interest

The Captain of Citi's Sinking Ship

Vikram Pandit, the CEO of Citibank, earned flack from California Rep. Maxine Waters for accepting bailout money and then raising credit card rates on the very taxpayers who funded him. A fascinating new profile in New York magazine reveals how Pandit went from captain of industry to captain of a sinking ship. Among the revelations: Pandit wasn't a natural leader, so he relied on loyal henchman to dress-down employees who screwed up, to handle complaints, and to rally the troops, allowing him time to spend his famously prodigious brain-power on the problem at hand, but also earning allegations of cronyism. As CEO of Citigroup his biggest failure was reliance on a handshake deal during the company's bid to take over Wachovia just before the collapse, which allowed Wells Fargo to snatch the company at the last second. This week, the humbled Pandit cut his salary to $1 and was back before the federal government, desperate for money, able to keep his job only because no one else wanted it.