Washington: World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has abruptly resigned from his post to join a private infrastructure investment firm, an unexpected departure that comes nearly three years before the end of his term.
Kim, who had served in the role since 2012, announced on Monday that he would leave his post well ahead of his term's expiration at the end of 2021, reports CNN.
"It has been a great honour to serve as President of this remarkable institution, full of passionate individuals dedicated to the mission of ending extreme poverty in our lifetime," Kim wrote in a statement.
"The work of the World Bank Group is more important now than ever as the aspirations of the poor rise all over the world, and problems like climate change, pandemics, famine and refugees continue to grow in both their scale and complexity."
A statement from the bank said the outgoing president would join a firm focusing on infrastructure investments in the developing world and return to the board of a health organisation he founded three decades ago.
Since its founding at the end of World War II, the World Bank has been led by Americans, all of whom were appointed by the US President. The US is the bank's largest shareholder.
Former President Barack Obama broke tradition in 2012 by choosing Kim, who was serving as president of Dartmouth College at the time.
Past bank leaders had emerged from the financial world, but Kim -- who was born in Seoul, South Korea, but raised in Iowa -- is an anthropologist and physician by training.
The White House did not immediately comment on Monday whether President Donald Trump plans to name a new replacement or provide a list of potential candidates, CNN reported.
The Trump administration has enjoyed a close working relationship with Kim.
Ivanka Trump, the President's daughter and senior White House adviser, developed a woman's entrepreneurship initiative in partnership with the World Bank in 2017 with the goal of providing more than $1 billion in financing for small-business owners.
She took the idea in April 2017 to Kim, who agreed to fast track the initiative.
Donald Trump has previously praised Kim, calling him a "friend" and a "great guy", and suggesting he himself might have selected him.