International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has disputed the finding of an independent investigation that during her previous work at the World Bank she pressured staff to amend a report in an effort to avoid angering China.
Based on the findings, the World Bank announced that it would immediately suspend the Doing Business report after the investigation uncovered irregularities in the 2018 and 2020 reports.
Georgieva, a Bulgarian who assumed the presidency of the International Monetary Fund in October 2019, rejected the findings of this report.
Georgieva announced that she had informed the International Monetary Fund Board of the situation.
“Neither in this case, nor before, nor after, I have not pressured the teams to manipulate the data,” she told IMF officials on Friday.
“I ask staff to check, re-verify, and triple-check, but I’ve never changed or tampered with what the data tells us,” she added.
“I fundamentally disagree with the findings and interpretations of the ‘data breach investigation’ as they relate to my role in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2018,” Georgieva said earlier in a statement.
These accusations could damage its reputation, and provide material for Americans who have long criticized multilateral organizations and their treatment of China.
“These are dangerous conclusions,” the US Treasury said in a statement, stressing that it was “analyzing the report.”
“Our primary responsibility is to maintain the integrity of international financial institutions,” she added.
“We should hear her (Georgieva) version of events, but things are not looking good at the moment,” said Justin Sandfor of the Center for International Development, who has written extensively about the problems with the report’s methodology.
He added, “The accusations that the head of the IMF was involved in tampering with statements are very dangerous,” adding that “this seems like a strong blow to credibility.”
Changing the classification of China
The important report ranks countries based on commercial activities laws and economic reforms, and has caused competition between governments for higher positions to attract investors.
According to the investigation, Beijing complained of being ranked 78th on the 2017 list, and the following year’s report was supposed to show Beijing a lower rank.
The Washington-based bank team was preparing the 2018 report while its leadership was engaged in sensitive negotiations to raise lending capital, which was contingent on an agreement with China and the United States.
In the final weeks before the report was released in late October 2017, then-World Bank President Jim Kim and then-CEO Georgieva asked staff to consider updating the methodology on China, according to the report by Wilmer Hill Law Firm.
Kim discussed the rating with senior Chinese officials who expressed dissatisfaction with their country’s rating, and aides raised ways to improve it, according to a summary of the investigation published by the World Bank.
Among the most prominent achievements of Kim reached an agreement to increase the resources of the World Bank by 13 billion dollars.
The deal required support from then-US President Donald Trump, who opposed concessional lending to China, and Beijing, which agreed to pay more for the loans.
Amid pressure from senior management, the bank’s employees modified some of the data that raised China’s rating in 2018 seven places to 78th place, i.e. the same rank it occupied the previous year, according to the investigation, which analyzed 80,000 documents and interviewed more than 30 current and former employees. in the bank.
Georgieva reprimanded a senior World Bank official for “mismanaging the bank’s relationship with China and failing to appreciate the importance of the Doing Business report to the country,” according to the report.
After making the changes, I thanked him for “playing his role in the cause of pluralism.”
Georgieva later visited the home of the director in charge of the report to get a copy and thanked him for helping “solve the problem.”
Paul Romer, a Nobel laureate and then chief economist at the World Bank, resigned in January 2018 after telling a reporter that the classification methodology had been modified in a way that might give the impression that political considerations affected the results, especially for Chile.
At the time the World Bank vehemently denied any political influence on the rating.
Romer told AFP in an interview last Thursday that while working for the World Bank, he was unaware that Georgieva was pressuring staff for China, although he had “doubts”, he said.
As for the ratings, he said that when he asked these questions, “Cristalina devised a way to cover it up, to cover it up.”
“My managers were people with a lack of integrity, it was unbearable,” Romer said, adding that “the kind of intimidation this report describes was real.”