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Lagarde Seeking Second Term as IMF Chief

Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde, left, attends the plenary session of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 20, 2016.

Christine Lagarde said Friday she wants a second term as managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

"Yes, I am running for a second mandate," Lagarde told France 2 television.

The former French finance minister has already won endorsements for another five-year term from France, Britain, Germany, China, South Korea and Mexico.

British Finance Minister George Osborne said Thursday that he was "delighted to nominate" her for a new term. He described the 60-year-old Lagarde as "an outstanding leader with [the] vision and acumen to steer [the] global economy in years ahead."

U.S. Treasury chief Jack Lew refrained from a formal endorsement, but expressed strong approval of her performance.

"I think she has done a great job," he said at the World Economic Forum at the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

Lagarde's first term ends in July, with the Washington-based international lender formally starting to accept nominations to fill the position on Thursday. The IMF has paid Lagarde more than $550,000 annually in salary and expense money tax free.

Her candidacy for a new term could again raise the question among countries with emerging economies, as it did when she was appointed to the job in 2011, of whether a European should continue to lead the IMF. By tradition, but not legally, a European had led the IMF since the agency was created after World War II, while an American has always headed the World Bank.

Lagarde has won the respect of global financial leaders for her role in helping keep Europe's 19-nation euro currency bloc from disintegrating as it dealt with the Greek debt crisis during her IMF tenure.

She also played a key role in adding the Chinese yuan to the IMF's basket of reserve currencies, a highly symbolic move Beijing sought as the world's second-largest economy seeks to play a more prominent role in world financial markets. She also lobbied successfully for U.S. passage of a package of IMF reforms that will double the agency's funding.

FILE - International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde addresses reporters as she leaves the Elysee Palace, Nov.8, 2013.
FILE - International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde addresses reporters as she leaves the Elysee Palace, Nov.8, 2013.

There could, however, be a cloud over a second Lagarde term at the IMF. A French judge last month ordered her to stand trial in the long-running investigation of her role in the approval of a $430 million government payout in 2008 to Bernard Tapie, one-time head of the sports apparel company Adidas, in his dispute with a state bank.

The IMF board has reiterated its confidence in Lagarde and she has denied any wrongdoing in the case.