Banking Watchdog Deputy Likely Heir

Avi Visnovitz, in charge of audits and Bank of Israel's deputy supervisor of banks is the leading candidate to replace Yoav Lehman, who will retire as Supervisor of Banks at the end of the year. Sources in the bank believe that although Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer would prefer an outside candidate, he will eventually tap Visnovitz.

Fischer has not begun the search for Lehman's replacement. However, he is believed to hope to appoint someone from outside the ranks of the central bank, possibly from the commercial banking sector. Nonetheless, it has proven very difficult in the past to convince senior banking sector executives to accept the position. Almost all of Fischer's predecessors have tried and failed to find candidates in the banking sector to take on the job of supervisor of banks.

Fischer is not expected to offer the job to foreign candidates, due to the need for in-depth familiarity with the Israeli banking sector in order to effectively regulate it. Assuming he is unable to find an external candidate, Fischer will fill the job with internal Bank of Israel candidates, and Visnovitz is believed to have the best chances.

The 47-year-old has been in the banking supervision division since 1986. Visnovitz holds a Master's degree in economics from Tel Aviv University. In recent years, he has been responsible for major measures in credit risk, improving supervision and auditing of the banks and implementing anti-money-laundering regulations.