IMF Director Meets Executive Board to Investigate Data-rigging Allegations
WASHINGTON (AP) – The president of the International Monetary Fund met with the board of directors of her agency on Wednesday, which is investigating allegations of data rigging at the World Bank, the sister global lender where she was previously a senior executive.
The IMF is investigating allegations that in 2018 World Bank employees were forced to change data affecting its ranking of the business climate of China and other countries.
The IMF’s board heard from IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, who denied any wrongdoing in the affair. She was Managing Director of the World Bank from January 2017 to September 2019, before taking over as head of the IMF in October 2019.
In a statement, the IMF said the meeting was part of the issue’s ongoing review by its board. The board said it met with lawyers from WilmerHale, the law firm that conducted the investigation, on Monday.
“The board remains committed to a thorough and timely review and plans to meet again soon for further discussions,” the IMF said.
The law firm’s investigation prompted the World Bank to cancel its annual “Doing Business” report. The report assessed a country’s tax burdens, bureaucratic hurdles, regulatory systems, and other business conditions. Its rankings have been used by governments to attract investment.
The law firm’s investigation found that as part of the preparation of the 2018 report, Georgieva pressured the bank’s economists to improve China’s ranking as she and other officials attempted to persuade China to support increased funding for the World Bank.
The incident led to calls for Georgieva to step down from the top IMF post. It also served to highlight long-standing criticisms that China exerts too much influence over global financial institutions.
Georgieva has denied any wrongdoing. “Let me be clear. The conclusions are wrong. I have not pressured anyone to change a report,” she said last month.
The controversy arises as the IMF and World Bank, of 190 countries, prepare to hold their annual meetings virtually next week.