Sunil Sabharwal(in Punjabi ਸੁਨੀਲ ਸਭਰਵਾਲ) is the Alternate Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund, to which he was appointed by the White House on April 3, 2014. He is an independent business investor and advisor of Indian-Hungarian descent who escaped from the Hungarian People's Republic in 1983 and returned in 1992 after the collapse of communism to set up the Budapest office of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Most recently, he was Chairman of the Board of Ogone, a European Internet payment services company with headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. A former NCAA All-American and Big Ten Champion in fencing, he serves on a commission of the International Olympic Committee, the International Fair Play Committee and Peace & Sport, USA. He speaks publicly on investing in Central and Eastern Europe, the confluence of sport, business and the environment, and the role of international financial institutions in a changing economy.
He was born in 1964 in New Delhi, India to Baldev Raj Sabharwal, a printing entrepreneur who founded the New Roxy Press in New Delhi, and Gabriella Bessenyey, of Hungarian descent. He attended the Frank Anthony school in New Delhi, India and the Imre Madach High school in Budapest Hungary.
Sabharwal’s mother struggled in Hungary under the communist regime because she refused to join the communist party. When she tried to sell pottery to feed her family, authorities wouldn’t grant her a vendor’s license. The family went to Vienna during the summer of 1983 under the auspices of a cultural tour and pleaded for asylum at the US Embassy, citing political and religious oppression. They gained sponsorship from the Upper Arlington Lutheran Church in Columbus, Ohio with particular support from Ohio State faculty member David Cole and his wife Edie and arrived in Columbus, Ohio in December 1983. Once in the Columbus Hungarian-American network, Sabharwal met OSU fencing coach and Hungarian Charlotte Remenyik.
Sabharwal enrolled at Ohio State University in January 1984, excelling in both business administration studies and fencing. He was OSU’s 1984 Big Ten Champion and NCAA All-American in 1984 and 1986. In 1988 he won OSU’s Jack Stephenson Award for Outstanding Scholastic and Academic Achievement at the College of Business and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree with Distinction in Marketing. He earned his Master of Science degree in Management at London Business School in 1996 and a diploma in Company Direction from UK’s Institute of Directors in 2009.
In 1992 he returned to post-Communist Hungary to set up the Budapest office of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), an international finance institution created specifically to foster the transition of post-Soviet economies backed by the developed world. Soon after its establishment the EBRD became the largest investor in Central and Eastern Europe and Hungary, one of its largest fund recipients.
Sabharwal had a 10-year private equity and mergers and acquisitions career with GE Capital in London and First Data / Western Union, in London and Paris. He served on the board of Euromedic Euromedic, Central Europe’s largest private healthcare services organization.
Sabharwal resides in Washington, D.C. independently advising and co-investing with private equity firms and financial services corporations. He is married to Gabrielle Tabori Sabharwal and has two children, Nicolas and Izabella.
He is a member of the International Olympic Committee’s Sport and Environment Commission and was Treasurer, now Secretary-General, of the UNESCO- and IOC-affiliated International Fair Play Committee. He also serves on the board of Peace & Sport USA. He was Chairman of the International Fencing Federation’s (FIE) first annual Congress held in the U.S., in Philadelphia in 2011 and Chief of Mission to the US Olympic Fencing team at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.