The search is on for a successor to Antonio Fazio, the Bank of Italy governor who resigned yesterday after facing allegations of malpractice.
The bank needs to re-establish credibility, both at home and abroad, after the Fazio affair tarnished its reputation. In a statement on the decision the bank said Fazio had given up his job for life with a “clear conscience”.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi welcomed the move. In a television programme he said: “I expected this decision, because I expected Dr Fazio to make a serious and responsible gesture. He felt at the moment it was the right move to make, to restore peace to the glorious institution of the Bank of Italy. Otherwise it would have been in turmoil and become embroiled in a media storm.”
Last week it emerged Fazio was being investigated for suspected insider trading.
He is claimed to have helped one Italian bank against a Dutch rival in the takeover battle for another Italian bank.
Italian opposition leader Romano Prodi says Fazio’s replacement has to be “someone with a high international profile, someone who’s known in this difficult world of international finance and the central bank.”
The process of finding a new head of the Italian central bank may also be overhauled, with the 13-member Banca d’Italia council pushed aside and the government selecting a new figurhead instead.