22 May 2011

UK supports French minister for IMF post

2:25 pm on 22 May 2011

The British government is backing French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to be the new head of the International Monetary Fund.

The position became vacant when managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned on Wednesday in New York where he faces seven charges of sexual assault arising from an incident at a hotel on 14 May.

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Chancellor George Osborne is to formally nominate Ms Lagarde for the post.

Britain is the first G7 country to officially back her.

In a statement on Saturday, Mr Osborne said she was ''far and away the outstanding candidate''.

Mr Osborne said Ms Lagarde would be elected on a ''merit-based candidacy, as she's been an outstanding finance minister and has chaired the G20 finance ministerial meetings this year in an effective and consensual way''.

He also said she is ''a strong backer of the type of fiscal austerity measures we think are necessary'' to restore the world's major economies to full health.

The BBC reports that Britain is confident Ms Lagarde would also have the backing of the Chinese and US governments.

She has already won praise for her credentials from interim IMF head John Lipsky, the Italian government, the Swedish finance minister and Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs the eurozone committee of finance ministers.

Ms Lagarde has been praised for her role in tackling the European debt crisis and the handling of demands of advanced and developing economies through France's presidency of the Group of 20 this year.

She headed the Baker & McKenzie law firm in Chicago before joining the French government in 2005.

The IMF board said on Friday that the process to find a new managing director would be completed by 30 June.

Mr Strauss-Khan was released on bail of $US1 million on Friday to a New York apartment, in the custody of a security company.