Italian dark horse joins running for top IMF job

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The Independent Online

The former director-general of the Italian Treasury, Mario Draghi, has emerged as a surprise candidate to be the new managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

The former director-general of the Italian Treasury, Mario Draghi, has emerged as a surprise candidate to be the new managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

European finance ministers are at loggerheads over whom to back as a replacement for Horst Köhler, who is retiring from the job to become President of Germany. By tradition, the job goes to a European while the World Bank job is taken by an American. The two candidates are Rodrigo Rato, the outgoing Spanish economy minister, and Jean Lemièrre, a Frenchman who heads the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

But Mr Rato's candidacy has been harmed by the appointment of Spaniard Jose Manuel Gonzalez-Paramo, to the executive council of the European Central Bank. And anti-French feeling in the US is hindering the candidacy of Mr Lemièrre.

Washington sources have suggested Mr Draghi as a compromise candidate. He was seen as one of the key economic reformers in Italy, leaving office in 2001 to join investment bank Goldman Sachs. European finance ministers meet in Ireland this weekend, where they are expected to ratify their choice.

* Two senior US congressmen are demanding the IMF explain its labour policies after accusations of union-busting.

George Miller and Robert Andrews have written to the IMF's acting director, Anne Krueger, citing their "serious concerns" over the allegations. The claims have been made by two security guards who were contracted to work at the IMF by security giant Wackenhut. The men were recently suspended for, they allege, attempting to form a union.

An IMF spokesman said the fund would respond to the congressmen, adding that it fully supported the rights of employees to form unions.

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