IMF Reaffirms 'Full Confidence' In Georgieva After Probe Into Data-Rigging Claims.

The executive board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has reaffirmed its full confidence in Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva after reviewing claims that she pressured World Bank staff to alter data to favor China.

The board said in a statement on October 11 it trusted Georgieva's commitment to maintaining the highest standards of governance and integrity at the global crisis lender.

"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 said, adding it had concluded Georgieva had not "played an improper role."

The review could have resulted in the removal of the Bulgarian economist from her job.

The board said that it plans to meet to consider possible additional steps to ensure the strength of institutional safeguards that protect the impartiality of IMF staff and its channels for complaint, dissent, and accountability.

In a separate statement U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she told Georgieva in a phone call that the report into the data-rigging allegations raised legitimate issues and concerns.

"The U.S. believes proactive steps must be taken to reinforce data integrity and credibility at the IMF," Yellen said, adding that Georgieva and other IMF leaders must renew their commitment to upholding transparency and whistleblower protections surrounding research, analysis, and policies.

Yellen said her priority is to preserve the integrity and credibility of the World Bank and the IMF, and for that reason, it was essential that the IMF board conducted a thorough, fair, and timely review of the findings.

The investigation centered on the Doing Business report, which ranks countries based on business regulations and economic reforms. An independent investigation found irregularities in the production of the 2018 and 2020 editions. Georgieva served as the World Bank's chief executive when the reports were written.
Georgieva on September 16 said she disagreed "fundamentally" with the findings of the investigation into the 2018 Doing Business report.

The investigation found that China complained after it had been ranked 78th in the 2017 edition.

According to the findings, China's ranking was expected to be even lower in the 2018 version of the report. But the investigation found that shortly before the 2018 report was to be issued, then-World Bank President Jim Kim and Georgieva met with staff and asked them to revise their methodology pertaining to China.

The revision resulted in China's ranking being raised by seven places to once again be ranked 78th.

The World Bank announced last month it was discontinuing the Doing Business report.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

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