IMF board decision hangs over Georgieva as IMF-World Bank annual meetings begin

File photo. Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kristalina Georgieva looks on during a press conference on the occasion of a meeting with economic and financial organizations in Berlin at the German chancellery in Berlin, Germany, 26 August 2021. [Pool/EPA/EFE]

Data-rigging allegations against International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva were set to loom over the opening of week-long IMF-World Bank annual meetings on Monday (11 October) as the Fund’s executive board failed to conclude its review after yet another marathon meeting.

The IMF board met on Sunday with Georgieva and the law firm that claims she pressured World Bank staff to change data to boost China’s “Doing Business” ranking when she was World Bank CEO in 2017, the IMF said in a statement, adding that the board had sought to “clarify details” in the review.

Georgieva pressured World Bank employees to favor China in report

World Bank leaders, including then-Chief Executive Kristalina Georgieva, applied “undue pressure” on staff to boost China’s ranking in the bank’s “Doing Business 2018” report, according to an independent investigation released Thursday (16 September).

“The board made further significant progress today in its assessment with a view to very soon concluding its consideration of the matter,” the Fund said.

The 24-member IMF board plans to meet again on Monday to decide Georgieva’s future at the helm of the global crisis lender, people familiar with the plans said. The meeting will come as top officials from many of the Fund’s 190 member countries arrive in Washington for the IMF and World Bank fall meetings, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The IMF’s executive board debated the matter for five hours on Friday before adjourning and scheduling separate meetings on Sunday with Georgieva and attorneys from the WilmerHale law firm. Those meetings stretched into the evening hours on Sunday.

The scandal threatens to overshadow the high-profile meetings, where Georgieva, World Bank President David Malpass and other senior officials plan to discuss the global economy, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and international taxation.

Georgieva, a former EU Commission Vice President,  has strongly denied the allegations, which date back to 2017, when she was the World Bank’s chief executive. She became the IMF’s managing director in October, 2019.

WilmerHale’s investigation report prepared for the World Bank board alleged that Georgieva applied “undue pressure” on bank staff at the time to make data changes to boost China’s ranking in the flagship “Doing Business” report, just as the bank was seeking Beijing’s support for a major capital increase.

Georgieva’s lawyer says the WilmerHale probe violated World Bank staff rules in part by denying her an opportunity to respond to the accusations, an assertion the law firm disputes.

No comment was immediately available from Georgieva or the law firm about Sunday’s meetings.

France and other European governments on Friday backed the Bulgarian economist to complete her term as IMF chief, while US officials and others sought more time to study the differing accounts about data irregularities in the World Bank’s now-cancelled flagship “Doing Business” report.

US Senators call for 'full accountability' in World Bank data controversy

The top Democrat and Republican on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee have urged President Joe Biden to “ensure full accountability” over a World Bank data-rigging controversy that has embroiled International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva.
The panel’s chairman, Senator Robert …

The Financial Times on Sunday reported that the United States and Japan want Georgieva out of the job, without citing any specific sources.

The US Treasury, which controls 16.5% of the IMF’s shares, declined to comment on the FT report. No comment was immediately available from the Japanese embassy in Washington.

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