The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) executive board has voiced its full confidence in Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva after reviewing allegations that she urged World Bank staff in her previous job to modify data to support China.
But United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen put Georgieva on notice that she would closely monitor the IMF’s follow-up and evaluate any new facts or findings, and called for proactive steps to reinforce data integrity and credibility at the IMF.
Georgieva, a Bulgarian economist and the first person from a developing country to lead the fund, had vehemently denied the claims. She greeted the board’s endorsement in a separate statement of her own and said she was pleased its members had agreed the allegations against her were unfounded.
“This has obviously been a difficult episode for me personally,” she said. “However, I want to express my unyielding support for the independence and integrity of institutions such as the World Bank and IMF; and my respect for all those committed to protecting the values on which these organizations are founded.”
Georgieva had won the support of France and other European governments last week, but the US and Japanese officials urged for a more thorough review of the allegations.
At issue was a damning report organised by the law firm WilmerHale for the World Bank’s board about data irregularities in the bank’s now-cancelled “Doing Business” report.
The firm’s report alleged that Georgieva and other senior officials applied “undue pressure” on bank staff to make changes to boost China’s ranking in the business review, just as the bank was seeking Beijing’s support for a significant capital increase.
The scandal has also dented research reputations at both institutions, raising critical questions about whether that work is subject to member-country influence, current and former staff from both institutions say.
However, Malpass declined to comment on the IMF process but said the World Bank was working to enhance the integrity of its research, including by elevating its chief economist, Carmen Reinhart, to be part of the bank’s 10-person senior management team.