Poland produces EBRD contender

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TWO nominations for president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development arrived yesterday, 24 hours ahead of the final deadline at 4pm today.

The double nomination appeared to undermine claims from monetary officials in Paris that the French already had the job in the bag for their candidate.

Poland last night proposed Leszek Balcerowicz, its former finance minister, as a candidate, PAP news agency said. His name was put forward by Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, head of the National Bank of Poland, in a letter to Bart le Blanc, EBRD's secretary general. 'Professor Balcerowicz is suitable for the job because of his familiarity with Western economies and his knowledge about East Europe's transformations,' her letter was quoted as saying.

Other formal nominations are expected to be Henning Christophersen, the Danish vice-president of the European Commission, and Jacques de Larosiere, head of the French central bank.

The Group of Seven industrial countries, which met earlier this month in Tokyo, hold 56 per cent of the shares and have already been accused by smaller national shareholders of trying to impose their will on the board.

A French source told Agence France Presse that Mr de Larosiere was to take office for four or perhaps six years in succession to Jacques Attali, who left abruptly last Friday after a critical audit report.

France is pressing other shareholders to honour an agreement that the head of the EBRD should always be French, and to ignore Mr Attali's embarrassing record.