Christine Lagarde’s victory a ‘done deal’, says Marchenko

June 09. Central Asia Newswire

By Richard Orange

Christine Lagarde's victory a 'done deal', says MarchenkoChristine Lagarde’s appointment as International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director is a “done deal”, Grigori Marchenko, the IMF candidate backed by the former Soviet bloc, has said, as he prepares to back out of the race as early as Friday evening.

“There’s a lot of information coming from different sources which is implying that there’s agreement between G8 countries about support for Madame Lagarde, and if countries which together have more than 60 percent of the vote have agreed to support one candidate, then it’s more or less a done deal,” Marchenko, who heads the National Bank of Kazakhstan, said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

Marchenko, an economist educated at the U.S.’s Georgetown University, said that G8 countries may have agreed to back the French finance minister, even before the sudden resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was expected to leave in July to campaign in the French presidential elections.

“Whether this deal was reached several months ago, or whether it was reached in May in Deauville in France, it’s pretty clear the deal has been reached,” he said, speaking from his offices in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s commercial capital.

The nomination process for the post officially finishes on Friday and Marchenko said that the Kazakh government would still officially be in consultation with other countries over his candidacy until then.

However, he admitted that his candidacy was effectively finished as soon as it became clear that Russia, India, China and Brazil were not going to be able to agree on a single candidate, despite the strong campaign of Agustin Carstens, Mexico’s Central Bank governor.

“Another thing that’s clear, and sad, is that developing countries are not in a position to come up with a single candidate,” he said. “If developing nations unite around a single candidate, I would be more than happy to support him or her. This whole thing is not based around my own personal ambition.”

Marchenko has said he had first learned of his candidacy by text message, after it was agreed at a meeting of the former Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in May.

“The reasoning behind our candidacy was that Kazakhstan is a neutral country which borders both Russia and China, and maybe a candidate from Kazakhstan could be accepted as a trade-off, especially as we also have good relationships with India,” he said.

Marchenko won acclaim for steering Kazakhstan through a successful bank restructuring during the financial crisis, and before that, for managing the impact of the 1998 Russian financial crisis.

He said that it would now make more sense for developing nations to bind together and push to nominate the head of the World Bank when Robert Zoellick’s term comes to an end.