IMF expresses ‘full confidence’ in the leadership of Kristalina Georgieva

FAN Editor

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva speaks at a press conference in Washington D.C., on March 4, 2020.

Liu Jie | Xinhua | Getty Images

The International Monetary Fund decided to keep Kristalina Georgieva as its managing director despite accusations she influenced a report to favor China while at the World Bank.

The IMF Executive Board held a meeting Monday to review allegations that Georgieva had pressured staff to help improve China’s rankings in the World Bank’s “Doing Business” rankings.

“Having looked at all the evidence presented, the Executive Board reaffirms its full confidence in the Managing Director’s leadership and ability to continue to effectively carry out her duties,” the IMF said in a statement following its review.

The fund said information presented during the review “did not conclusively demonstrate that the Managing Director played an improper role.”

Separately, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement that without “further direct evidence with regard to the role of the Managing Director there is not a basis for a change in IMF leadership.”

Georgieva has been the IMF’s boss since Oct. 2019.

Prior to that, she worked as chief of the World Bank since 2017. It was in this capacity that a report, conducted by law firm WilmerHale and requested by the bank’s ethics committee, said she influenced the outcome of some major research to make China look better.

WilmerHale said in September, that during her time at the World Bank, “Georgieva became directly involved in efforts to improve China’s ranking [in the Doing Business Report].”

Georgieva denies allegations

The “Doing Business” report is a flagship piece of annual research at the World Bank that assesses how friendly a nation is for business activity.

In the 2018 report, China was initially ranked 85, but after influence from within the leadership team and interventions from Beijing; the country ended up in 78th place, according to the WilmerHale assessment.

In a statement on Sept. 16, Georgieva said: “I disagree fundamentally with the findings and interpretations [of the WilmerHale report].”

Countries such as France, Germany, Italy and the U.K. reportedly backed Georgieva to remain as leader of the IMF. However, some officials in the United States were a bit more skeptical.

Yellen says concerns are legitimate

In her Monday statement, Yellen said the WilmerHale report raised “legitimate issues and concerns.”

“The U.S. believes proactive steps must be taken to reinforce data integrity and credibility at the IMF,” read the statement.

The World Bank said last month that it has decided to discontinue the “Doing Business” report.

The bank said the decision came after the WilmerHale report and its internal audit reports “raised ethical matters, including the conduct of former Board officials as well as current and/or former Bank staff.”

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