Former ECB chief Duisenberg dead

Paris, Aug 1 | Updated: Aug 2 2005, 05:30am hrs
Wim Duisenberg, the former European central bank chief who helped create the euro currency, was found dead in his swimming pool in southeastern France, officials said. He was 70. An autopsy showed Duisenberg had drowned after an unspecified cardiac problem, a regional prosecutor said. He was found unconscious in the swimming pool at his home in the town of Faucon and could not be resuscitated, police said. Duisenberg died a natural death, due to drowning, after a cardiac problem, on Sunday, said Jean-Francois Sanpieri, a state prosecutor in the nearby town of Carpentras. He did not give further details about the autopsy.

Duisenberg was the first head of the ECB, serving from 1998 to 2003. Having shepherded the euro through its introduction in 1999, he became known as the father of the 12-nation European common currency.

With his calm manner, he established peoples basic trust in the euro, German finance minister Hans Eichel told the Associated Press in Berlin. We will remember his personality and what he achieved.

Tall and stoop-shouldered, with a big mane of white hair, Duisenberg sometimes came off as more of a professor than a heavyweight policy-maker.

He is survived by his wife, Gretta Duisenberg-bedier de Prairie, and two adult sons from a previous marriage.