The United States expressed concern over allegations that the World Bank changed its business-friendly rankings in an effort to placate China, the Treasury Department said in a statement.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen spoke by phone to the International Monetary Fund’s managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, the Treasury said.
Yellen said a report accusing Georgieva and others of pressuring employees to change business rankings for China while she was a World Bank official “raised legitimate issues and concerns.”
The IMF expressed “full confidence” in Georgieva on Tuesday in response to the allegations, and the US Treasury agreed that “the absence of further direct evidence regarding the role of the managing director is not grounds for a change in IMF leadership.”
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The IMF’s 24-member executive board said in a statement that its review “does not conclusively demonstrate that the managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, has played an unreasonable role.”
But it said an investigation into possible misconduct by World Bank employees was ongoing. The United States, the largest shareholder of the IMF, said it planned to closely monitor further investigations into the issue. Both the World Bank and the IMF are global lenders in the United Nations system.
Georgieva has denied any wrongdoing in response to an investigation report by Wilmerhall Law Firm. The report found that it played a role in pressuring World Bank employees to revise the data affecting the 2018 rankings to show how welcoming China and other countries are to businesses.
To attract foreign investment, countries used the annual Doing Business Report, which assessed tax burdens, bureaucratic constraints and regulatory systems.
The rankings have been closed due to controversy, which also prompted criticism that China, the world’s second-largest economy, has too much influence over international finance organisations.
Yellen said it was important to protect the integrity of the IMF and the World Bank.
“The US believes that proactive steps should be taken to reinforce data integrity and credibility at the IMF, and that the Institute and its leadership need to provide accountability and public oversight around policies, research and analysis.” must renew its commitment to maintaining transparency and whistleblower protection. Major decisions,” the Treasury statement said.
Addressing the controversy on Wednesday, IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath said the IMF took very seriously the need to protect the integrity of its economic reports. He said the investigation was focused on the World Bank report and not on the report prepared by the IMF.
“We are working relentlessly to ensure the highest standards for our data and our research,” he told reporters at a briefing on the IMF’s updated World Economic Outlook. “As part of that, we have ongoing reviews and will continue to do so.”
The IMF said late Friday that it was seeking more “clear details” in its investigation and that the board met with Georgieva again on Sunday.
Georgieva last week appeared in front of a panel more than five hours after a presentation by WilmerHale alleging that she and other World Bank officials had pressured staff to turn over the data.
The annual meetings of 190 countries of the IMF and the World Bank are taking place in Washington this week and controversy over the Doing Business report threatened to dominate the agenda of those meetings.
The Bulgarian economist Georgieva, 68, has served as the Managing Director of the IMF since 2019. She was the first leader of the fund to come from an emerging market economy rather than one of the traditional European economic powers such as Germany or France.
In taking over the leadership of the IMF, he replaced Christine Lagarde, who took over as head of the European Central Bank.