Vikram Pandit denied that he was forced out as Citigroup's CEO, telling CNBC Tuesday that it was his decision to step down after five years at the bank and that he had been thinking about it for awhile.
In an exclusive interview, Pandit said that after the bank posted stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings on Monday, he called Chairman Michael O'Neill to discuss leaving the bank.
"After five years of accomplishing what we needed to do, it was the right time" to step down, Pandit said.
While the departure was sudden, Pandit said "Citigroup has a new CEO in place and it makes no sense for the old CEO to look over his shoulder."
Michael Corbat, who had been the head of Citi's Europe, Middle East and Africa operation, was named the new CEO on Tuesday. (Read More: Meet Citigroup's New Boss .)