Professor Leo Leiderman, who withdrew his candidacy for the position of Bank of Israel Governor just two days after being nominated, explained on Sunday that he withdrew in order to save himself from “a nightmare”.
Leiderman told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Friday that after holding talks with his family, he believes that he would be better off to continue his work at Tel Aviv University and at Bank Hapoalim.
Some reports suggested that Leiderman’s decision to withdraw his candidacy was made after the Turkel Committee, a panel headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Yaakov Turkel and whose task is to approve nominations for public positions, received letters and complaints suggesting that Leiderman had behaved inappropriately when he worked at the German Deutsche Bank.
Leiderman, however, told Israeli news website The Post that he was convinced that the Turkel committee would have approved his appointment but that this procedure would have lasted more than two months and he was not willing to go through “the nightmare”, as he put it, that the previous candidate Jacob Frenkel had gone through.
Frenkel announced last Monday that he would not be taking the job of Bank of Israel chairman, because of allegations that he shoplifted an item in Hong Kong several years ago.
Professor Leiderman told The Post that he was completely clean and that there has never been a complaint or claim filed against him at any of his previous workplaces.
“No claim or complaint of any kind has been filed against me in all my 34 years of work at Tel Aviv University, ten years at the Bank of Israel, ten years at Bank Hapoalim and two and a half years at Deutsche Bank,” he said.
Leiderman said he had resigned from Deutsche Bank "voluntarily” so he can return to Israel to be close to his family. He also said that he is sorry that his dream to be Bank of Israel Governor will not come true, but added that the focus now should be on choosing the next governor and not on the baseless claims against him, as he put it.
The saga surrounding the appointment of the next Bank of Israel Governor has made headlines in Israel for several weeks and has also piqued the interest of international media. Bloomberg Businessweek, for example, described the saga over the weekend as “a soap opera at Israel’s central bank”, while the Financial Times said that the resignation of two candidates one after another dealt “an embarrassing blow” to Netanyahu and Lapid.