US candidate clears big hurdle in effort to head World Bank

The Treasury official nominated by President Donald Trump to be the next president of the World Bank has cleared a major hurdle, with nominations for the position closing with no other candidates emerging.

The World Bank said Thursday that David Malpass was the only candidate put forward by the bank's 189 member countries. Malpass is currently the undersecretary for international affairs at Treasury.

The presidency at the global lending institution came open earlier this year when Jim Yong Kim, who had been nominated by the Obama administration, announced he was stepping down.

The World Bank said its 25-member executive board will interview Malpass in the coming days and expects a decision will be made before the bank's spring meetings, which start April 12.

Both the World Bank and its sister lending institution, the International Monetary Fund, are headquartered in Washington. The head of the IMF has always been a European while the head of the World Bank has always been an American. The current head of the IMF is Christine Lagarde, a former French finance minister.

President Donald Trump announced Malpass' nomination in a White House ceremony last month. Trump said his administration would make it a "top priority to ensure that U.S. taxpayers' dollars are spent effectively and wisely, serve American interest and defend American values."

Malpass, 63, has been a vocal critic of the World Bank and the IMF. However, from his position in Treasury last year he helped win support for a $13 billion funding increase for the bank.

He has argued that the bank should cut back its lending to China, which he says is no longer a country dependent on the bank's loans because it can borrow on global capital markets. He has argued that World Bank loans should be targeted at poorer nations.

His candidacy was backed by a global lobbying effort led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who promoted Malpass's bid during conversations with a number of foreign finance officials over the past month.