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Central bank governor of the year 2003: Kazakhstan sets CIS banking standard

National Bank of Kazakhstan's governor, Grigori Marchenko, won't say it, but he has been the main influence behind his country's widely acclaimed economic success story.

SUMMER IN ALMATY can be soporific. Power-napping on a bench, enjoying the shade of the silver birches and the warblings of the mynah birds on the quiet street that is home to the National Bank of Kazakhstan, you could be forgiven for thinking you are about to enter a sleepy organization.

You would be completely wrong. The hushed corridors of the NBK might exude an atmosphere of studious calm, but there's also a sense of the dynamism that has driven a financial services sector that is universally regarded as the best in the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Much of the credit goes to Grigori Marchenko, who has won Euromoney's 2003 central bank governor of the year award. As captain of the NBK ship since 1999 he has received widespread recognition for steering Kazakhstan and its banks clear of the dangers that have wrecked the economies and financial systems of many of the central Asian state's near neighbours.

He is keen to see the award bring wider recognition for the economic successes of Kazakhstan, which he hopes will encourage further investment. "While there is regional recognition of Kazakhstan's economic achievements, the country is still terra incognito for many," he says.

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