Less than six months into the job, t he International Accounting Standards Board chairman has stepped down to take the position of Italian finance minister.

Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa was named this week in Romano Prodi's new government in Italy. He had succeeded Paul Volcker, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, as head of the IASB in December.

Engaged in a complicated initiative to achieve convergence of accounting standards with those in the United States, the European Commission (the executive body of the European Union) had pushed for a European appointee to head the international accounting organization.

Over the last month, many regulators within the E.U. have called on the IASB to abandon the convergence project, saying that the work was getting mired in legal technicalities.

In an editorial in the Financial Times last week, Padoa-Schioppa reconfirmed the IASB's commitment to convergence.

" First, convergence is not a zero-sum game where the gain of one standard-setter is a loss for the other," he wrote. "Second, convergence is not bound to lead to the predominance of traditionally rule-based US approaches over a principle-based system to which IASB is committed. The greatest obstacle to a principle-based approach is not the US standard-setting body but companies, auditors and regulators who seek comfort in narrowly defined rules."

Padoa-Schioppa was a member of the executive board of the European Central Bank from 1998 until May 2005 and has a long history in both the banking world as well as many years of service on various European and international committees.

Previously on WebCPA:

IASB Foundation Names Italian Banker Chairman (Dec. 23, 2005)

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