The Treasury said last night that no decision had been taken on a British candidate.
But a senior European official at the EC finance ministers meeting in Brussels said Britain had 'put Nigel Lawson's name forward'.
After the meeting, a number of ministers admitted they had discussed the EBRD presidency. Kenneth Clarke, the present Chancellor, said: 'I won't deny there was discussion in the corridors . . . but absolutely nothing was decided.'
Philippe Maystadt, Belgium's finance minister, said they hoped to reach a consensus. 'We all want to be able to support a single candidate but it remains to be seen if we can, and who it will be.'
If his candidacy were confirmed, Mr Lawson would join two other hopefuls for the job: Henning Christophersen, the Danish EC Commissioner for economic affairs, and Jacques de Larosiere, governor of the Bank of France.
Italy is also said to be toying with the idea of nominating Mario Sarcinelli, a senior EBRD banker and former top Italian treasury official.
The ministers agreed that nominations for the EBRD post must be submitted before 21 July and a successor to Mr Attali, who resigned last month after allegations of extravagant spending at the bank, chosen within three weeks.