November 29, 2018 / 3:10 PM / 11 days ago

UPDATE 1-Moldova appoints new central bank governor to push IMF-backed reforms

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By Alexander Tanas

CHISINAU, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Moldova’s parliament on Thursday confirmed Finance Minister Octavian Armasu as the new central bank governor, a role in which he is expected to press on with donor-backed banking reforms after the resignation of Sergiu Cioclea this month.

Cioclea told Reuters last week that Moldova had turned the corner on bringing more transparency to its banking system following a $1 billion scandal that plunged the tiny eastern European nation into political and economic turmoil.

“Armasu’s candidacy as president of the (central bank) meets the requirements and expectations of the IMF and the World Bank, which is important for Moldova, which has a three-year programme with the IMF,” parliamentary speaker Andrian Candu said before the vote.

“Armasu was a reliable partner of the outgoing (central bank) president, including in working with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other external partners of Moldova,” Candu said.

Armasu will stand down as finance minister on Friday and will be temporarily replaced by his deputy until a permanent replacement has been chosen.

The appointment of Armasu, 49, as central bank governor has been welcomed by investors in Moldova who believe he will continue the reforms initiated by Cioclea following the banking scandal.

That scam, known locally as the “theft of the century”, triggered street protests, the IMF and the European Union froze aid, the leu currency plunged to record lows and inflation climbed into double digits.

The central bank has since worked to bring more transparency in banking ownership and overseen the sale of stakes in large lenders to foreign investors.

Before the vote, Armasu said he would do his best to ensure that Moldova’s relations with external partners remained good. (Writing by Matthias Williams Editing by Gareth Jones)

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