IMF boss Georgieva survives allegations of data manipulation

Washington (dpa) – Despite allegations of the manipulation of a report in favor of China, the supervisory body of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has expressed its “full confidence” to Director Kristalina Georgiewa.

The Executive Council trusts her obligation to maintain “the highest standards of governance and integrity” at the IMF, the panel said on Monday evening (local time) after the eighth meeting on the matter. Georgieva (68) has always denied the allegations against her. The Bulgarian, a former EU commissioner, has been at the helm of the IMF since 2019.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who represents the largest shareholder in the IMF, said she spoke to Georgieva about the serious allegations. Without further direct evidence of Georgia’s role, the US sees “no basis for a change in the leadership of the IMF”. The Ministry of Finance will follow the processing closely. In order to strengthen the integrity of the data collection and the credibility of the IMF, “proactive steps” are necessary.

Georgieva is accused of influencing an important country ranking in favor of China in her previous top post at the World Bank. It is said to have 2017 put pressure on employees to prevent China from slipping in the World Bank’s “Doing Business” ranking, according to an investigation by a law firm commissioned by the World Bank in September. After the changes, China was able to hold onto rank 78 – without the intervention of management, the country would have fallen to rank 85.

The investigation report from September suggests that employees of the then World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Georgiewa as CEO did not want to scare Beijing off because of an imminent major capital increase for the World Bank. After the data was changed, Georgieva is said to have thanked the responsible head of unit by saying that he had made a contribution to multilateralism.

There are also some irregularities in the report when assessing the business climate in other countries have given. The World Bank has since announced that it will abolish the much-cited ranking.

The alleged manipulation of data is a serious accusation for the World Bank and the IMF. For the organizations based in Washington, the independent and non-political collection and compilation of international data is part of their core business. The data of the organizations are often a basis for far-reaching decisions, for example when it comes to aid money the IMF member states and shareholders are represented, had last discussed the allegations against Georgieva on Friday, Sunday and Monday into the evening. The Council stated that steps would also be examined in the future to further strengthen the independence and integrity of data collection and analysis at the IMF This week finance ministers, central bankers and representatives from the financial sector and development cooperation gather for the organizations’ annual meeting. Due to the pandemic, the meeting is only partly taking place in Washington, most of it happens online. Georgiewa, for example, moderated an event on Monday with UN Secretary General António Guterres – although many viewers must have asked themselves whether Georgiewa would soon be urged to resign.

The economist was in Brussels Georgieva from 2010 to 2014 as Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, then to 2017 as the powerful Vice-President of the Commission for Budget and Personnel. After her post as Managing Director of the World Bank, she 2019 succeeded the French Christine Lagarde at the head of the IMF. Lagarde is now the head of the European Central Bank (ECB).

The IMF is considered to be the fire brigade of the global financial system, which can protect ailing states from bankruptcy in the event of financial or balance of payments crises. In the past, the IMF has often reacted sharply when stiff states manipulated economic data.

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