Embattled IMF Chief to Stay Following Investigation Into World Bank Data Rigging

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Kristalina Georgieva will remain at the helm of the International Monetary Fund, which has been damaged by the investigation

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“The information presented during its review did not show that the managing director played an improper role,” the IMF’s executive board said on Monday after completing its investigation. The board said it has confidence in Ms Georgieva’s “commitment to maintaining the highest standards of governance and integrity at the IMF”.

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The blessing of the IMF board, which came on the first day of the IMF’s annual meetings in Washington, would allow Georgieva to preside over the body that has been badly damaged by the episode. It highlighted the growing difficulty of protecting the integrity of international institutions as well as maintaining peace with important shareholders in both the world’s two largest economies, China and the US, the IMF and the World Bank.

The board’s decision was made after a phone call between Ms Georgieva and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Monday, according to a Treasury Department statement.

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In that call, Ms Yellen said the investigation “raised legitimate issues and concerns” and that going forward “proactive steps should be taken to strengthen data integrity and credibility at the IMF.” According to the Treasury Department, Ms Yellen said that “in the absence of further direct evidence,” there is no basis for a change in IMF leadership.

An external investigation had implicated Ms Georgieva in an attempt to manipulate data to promote China’s position in the World Bank’s “Doing Business” report, which ranked countries at ease in their business regulatory environment. Ms Georgieva said at the time that she fundamentally disagreed with the findings and interpretations.

The IMF’s board itself held eight meetings to examine the claims. It was so difficult to reach a consensus that the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank began on Monday with no clear indication whether Ms Georgieva still had the full support of the IMF’s board.

The long delay suggests that the action in question was “neither the darkest tinge of abuse nor is it something that the Executive Board considers small and insignificant. It is somewhere in that gray,” said Nathan Sheets, who He was the Under Secretary of International Affairs at the Treasury during the Obama administration. “If she survives, it’s likely to be cloudy for some time.”

write to Josh Zumbrun at [email protected]

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