WASHINGTON: The head of the International Monetary Fund met on Wednesday with her agency’s executive board, which is conducting an investigation into alleged data-rigging at the World Bank, the sister global lender where she was formerly was a top executive.
The IMF is investigating allegations that in 2018 World Bank employees were pressured to alter data affecting its business-climate rankings of China and other nations.
The IMF board heard from IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, who has denied any wrongdoing in the matter. She served as chief executive officer of the World Bank from January 2017 to September 2019, before taking the helm of the IMF in October of 2019.
In a statement, the IMF said the meeting was part of the its board’s ongoing review of the issue. The board said it met Monday with attorneys from WilmerHale, the law firm that conducted the investigation.
The executive board remains committed to a thorough and timely review and expects to meet again soon for further discussion, the IMF said.
The law firms investigation prompted the World Bank to cancel its annual Doing Business report. The report evaluated a country’s tax burdens, bureaucratic obstacles, regulatory systems and other business conditions. Its rankings were 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 at a time when she and other officials were attempting to persuade China to support a boost in the World Bank’s funding.
The incident has led to calls for Georgieva to resign from the IMF’s top job. It has also served to underscore long-standing criticism that China wields too much influence over global financial institutions.
Georgieva has denied all wrongdoing. Let me be clear. The conclusions are wrong. I did not pressure anyone to alter any report, she said last month.
The controversy is occurring as the 190-nation IMF and the World Bank, prepare to hold their annual meetings virtually next week.
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