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Thursday, 26 April, 2001, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
Argentina's central banker sacked
Interim central banker Roque Maccarone
Maccarone has close ties to the economy minister
Argentine President Fernando De la Rua has sacked the head of the central bank chief for "bad conduct".

The decision to remove Pedro Pou and appoint Roque Maccarone as the central bank's interim president came after a committee accused Pou of failing to properly investigate alleged money laundering by Argentine banks.

Argentine President Fernandes de al Rau
de la Rau sacked Pou for "bad conduct"
It also followed a public feud between Pou and economy minister Domingo Cavallo over how to lift Argentina's economy out of nearly three years of deep recession.

The economy minister had publicly branded the central banker a "liar" and opposed his monetary policies.

Mr Maccarone's appointment requires Senate committee approval, but it is considered virtually assured.

Pou's end

Mr Pou is charged with mismanagement of the central bank during a high-profile, $4.5bn money laundering scheme under the presidency of Carlos Menem from 1989 to 1999.

But Mr Pou's feud with Mr Cavallo was described by many analysts as his downfall as the economy minister attempted to wrest control of central bank policies.

Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo
Cavallo: "Pou lied to me"
Mr Cavallo has denied those allegations and the government has said Maccarone's appointment would not compromise the central bank's independence on monetary policy.

Mr Pou also angered Mr Cavallo by rejecting his plans to peg the Argentine peso to both the euro and the US dollar. Currently, the currency is pegged to the dollar only.

Mr Cavallo says the strong dollar makes Argentine exports too expensive and has stifled direct foreign investment.

Mr Pou, who was appointed by then-president Carlos Menem, was scheduled to serve as head of the central bank until 2004.

Macarrone's past

The new central banker has worked for Mr Cavallo in the Economy Ministry before in the early 1990s.

In spite of that connection, Mr Maccarone told reporters the central bank "will not be a dependency of the Economy Ministry".

Maccarone is a former executive at the Banco Rio de la Plata and the government-run Banco de la Nacion Argentina, the nation's largest bank.

In 1996, while he ran the Banco Nacion, it was shaken by a bribery scandal involving the supplying of computers to its branches by the US company IBM.

Maccarone also is closely tied to one of Argentina's richest men, the industralist Gregorio "Goyo" Perez Companc.

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