EBRD may get German president to replace Attali
The Germans have been prevented so far from putting forward a candidate to succeed Mr Attali because having two Germans at the top of the EBRD would have been politically unacceptable. But with Mr Abelein out of the way, commentators were naming the former central banker, Karl Otto Pohl, and Birgit Breuel, president of the Treuhand, the organisation charged with the privatisation of former East German companies, as strong candidates for the presidency.
European Community ministers meeting today will discuss Mr Attali's successor, following his resignation over criticism of the bank's expenditure and personal expenses.
It is understood that the British will not be fielding a contender, since a number of possible UK candidates who were sounded out have turned the job down. The head of the Banque de France, Jacques de Larosiere, is also a possibility, but most observers see the French as having had their shot with Mr Attali.
The Der Speigel report, which is to be published today, says that Mr Abelein was paid up to DM6.5m ( pounds 2.6m) along with his colleague Werner Franz for their work as advisers to an eastern German car company that was in financial trouble.
As one of the two EBRD vice-presidents, Mr Abelein is forbidden to have any outside business interests. The sum was well in excess of normal fees. The men paid back more than DM2m last December. Der Speigel says that Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Finance Minister Theo Waigel decided to demand Mr Abelein's resignation at last week's Tokyo economic summit.
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