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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 September 2005, 18:55 GMT 19:55 UK
Bank boss back in Rome after snub
Antonio Fazio
Mr Fazio has resisted calls from the government for him to quit
Italy's central bank governor has left a meeting of global lenders in the US after being dumped from the delegation representing his country, reports say.

Antonio Fazio returned to Rome early after the government revoked his authority to speak for Italy, Italian news agencies AGI and ANSA said.

Mr Fazio had been attending the World Bank and International Monetary Fund's annual meeting in Washington.

He has been under pressure to resign following a banking scandal in Italy.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi last week called for Mr Fazio to quit over allegations that the central bank governor tried to block Dutch bank ABN Amro's takeover of Italy's Banca Antonveneta.

But Mr Fazio, who is entitled to hold his post as governor of the Bank of Italy for life, has so far resisted pressure from the government for him to quit.

Outspoken critic

Italy's Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti is understood to have revoked Mr Fazio's authority to speak before the World Bank committee.

A recent appointee to the role, Mr Tremonti replaced former economy minister Domenico Siniscalco on Thursday after his predecessor resigned in protest at Mr Fazio's refusal to step down.

Mr Tremonti is known as an outspoken critic of Mr Fazio, who was due to give a speech to the World Bank on Sunday. Both men had earlier avoided each other during the two-day meeting in the US capital.

The World Bank said that Ignazio Angeloni, a senior Italian treasury official, would now represent Italy at the international lender's development committee meeting.

Mr Fazio returned to Italy's Ciampino airport by private jet, according to one report.

Credibility worries

Mr Fazio is at the centre of a controversy over his role in the struggle for control of Banca Antonveneta, which pitted Italy's Banca Popolare Italiana against ABN Amro.

The central bank approved Banca Popolare Italiana's takeover offer for its Italian rival.

However, details of leaked conversations revealed that Mr Fazio tipped off Banca Popolare's boss about the Bank of Italy's decision to clear the bid.

On Thursday, Mr Berlusconi added his voice to the chorus of Italian politicians calling for Mr Fazio to resign, saying his presence was "not compatible with national credibility".

His intervention followed concern that the Bank of Italy's international standing had been damaged by the allegations of bias in its handling of the takeover battle.

The Italian government recently announced plans to reform the central bank but refused to force the departure of Mr Fazio, who has denied any wrongdoing.

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