The Executive Board has cleared International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva of allegations that she manipulated a World Bank report to favour China while she was its CEO.
The exoneration of Georgieva, who is the IMF Managing Director, was announced on Monday night as the annual meetings of the two organisations got underway in Washington.
The IMF said: “Having looked at all the evidence presented, the executive board reaffirms its full confidence in the Managing Director’s leadership and ability to continue to effectively carry out her duties.”
The board trusts in her “commitment to maintaining the highest standards of governance and integrity in the IMF”, it added.
Surjit Singh Bhalla of India is a member of the 24-member executive board.
The US went along with the decision of the board but displayed a measure of scepticism.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the law firm’s inquiry raises “legitimate issues and concerns” but “absent further direct evidence with regard to the role of the Managing Director there is not a basis for a change in IMF leadership”.
Georgieva, a Bulgarian economist who joined the IMF in 2019, had been hounded by allegations that while she was the World Bank’s Chief Executive she had, along with other officials, pressured the staff to improve China’s standing in its “Doing Business 2018”.
An independent inquiry conducted by a law firm, WilmerHale, for the Bank’s ethics committee asserted that Georgieva and another official asked staff to modify “China’s data points” in order to raise its standing in ease of doing business tally while the Bank wanted Beijing to support its quest for a capital increase.
In her rebuttal, she said the report made “false and spurious insinuations”, and blamed the office of Jim Kong Kim, the American doctor who was the Bank’s president at that time, of the manipulation.
She said that she had in fact made efforts to prevent Hong Kong’s data from being added to China’s.
After the executive board’s decision taken after eight sessions during which it held discussions with her and the law firm, Georgieva said: “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 organiSations are founded.”
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com and followed @arulouis)