The head of an international task-force to reform ailing Asian banking systems yesterday said that in 25 countries the majority of banks were insolvent. Jonathan Fiechter also said at least 15 concerned governments had approached him seeking reassurance about their banking systems after the collapse of dozens of Asian banks. Mr Fiechter is heading up a joint World Bank and International Monetary Fund group that has been joined by Western and private banks as well as central banks seeking to help in the reform and restructuring process. His operation at present has teams in Korea, Indonesia and Thailand and is expected to widen its operation. The Special Financial Operations group is intended to provide long-term assistance in repairing damage from the recent crisis and to help build a system based on global best-practice. Mr Fiechter believes it will ultimately lead to increased consolidation within the Asian banking system and greater involvement of Western operations, because of the need to bring in foreign capital and expertise. Mr Fiechter said: 'The genesis of the office is that it became clear that the problems were complex and were not going to be resolved in the next 12 to 18 months.' Dedicated teams, which include secondments from both the multilateral agencies, the private sector and government organisations, work with local bank officials to identify and reform trouble spots. In some cases, twining arrangements are being set up where employees from assisted banks are sent to Western banks for experience. He said reforming the banking culture and developing local skills needed to attain international standards were long-term projects, and not to be solved in six months. 'We work with the governments and central banks to identify and get control of their weak institutions. 'These are huge countries and complex problems.' He said the hard line taken by Thai authorities to close 56 institutions and Indonesian agreement to shut 16 banks reflected the commitment for reform.