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Private Indian banker named first BRICS bank head

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Indian private banker KV Kamath was named Monday as the first head of a new development bank being set up by the so-called emerging BRICS nations, officials said.

[NEW DELHI] Indian private banker KV Kamath was named Monday as the first head of a new development bank being set up by the so-called emerging BRICS nations, officials said.

The BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - announced last year that they were forming the development bank to be headquartered in Shanghai.

The move was seen as a major challenge to the Washington-based International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which some powers see as biased towards Western policy positions.

"Kamath has been appointed as the president of BRICS bank for a term of five years," an Indian finance ministry spokesman told AFP.

Finance secretary Rajiv Mehrishi confirmed Mr Kamath's appointment and said the New Development Bank would probably be operational within a year, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Mr Kamath, 67, is a veteran private banker who is credited with turning the ICICI Bank into one of India's largest private lenders during his 13 years as managing director and CEO.

He also spent several years working at the Asian Development Bank in southeast Asia and is currently non-executive chairman of both ICICI and Indian software giant Infosys.

BRICS nations had agreed that the bank would be headed by an Indian for the first five years.

The bank will provide US$50 billion for infrastructure projects and have US$100 billion in an emergency reserve fund, with each country contributing US$10 billion, BRICS leaders said last year when the bank was announced.

The IMF, set up along with the World Bank during the Bretton Woods conference in 1944, has faced criticism for imposing onerous conditions and for not giving wider representation to developing nations on its controlling committees.

Experts say that much remains unclear about the scope of a BRICS bank, including how much risk it would take.

BRICS nations account for nearly US$16 trillion in GDP and 40 per cent of the world's population.

China has separately persuaded 56 other countries to join its own initiative, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

AFP