Malpass, 62, Treasury’s undersecretary for international affairs, would need to be approved by the World Bank’s 12-member board before becoming its president. The United States traditionally chooses the bank’s leadership.
Malpass, a Trump loyalist and veteran of the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, has had sharp words for several policies at the World Bank, including its loans to China. He has also long expressed skepticism of global institutions.
Malpass has been heavily involved in U.S.-China negotiations over trade in recent months.
On Monday night, a person close to Malpass said he would seek to be “constructive” as World Bank president, but declined to detail much of his possible agenda, beyond saying his priorities would be raising incomes in developing nations and defending U.S. interests.
The Trump administration’s decision to nominate Malpass was first reported by Politico.
A White House official declined to comment.
Jim Yong Kim is stepping down as World Bank president after more than six years in the post. Kim is leaving Feb. 1 to join a firm involved in infrastructure investment in developing countries.
The World Bank’s directors, who represent donor countries, have the right to nominate candidates for the president’s job and will vote on a winner.
By an unwritten tradition since the bank’s founding in 1944, the board has always chosen Washington’s nominee. The Europeans, in turn, have determined the head of the International Monetary Fund.
The Trump administration has questioned the value of multilateral institutions including the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. But it supported a funding increase for the World Bank last year, which raised $13 billion from member countries.
Jeanne Whalen and David J. Lynch contributed to this report.