IMF board to meet again on Georgieva review on Friday -source By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva makes remarks during a closing news conference for the International Monetary Finance Committee (IMFC), during the IMF and World Bank’s 2019 Annual Meetings of finance mi

By Andrea Shalal and David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The International Monetary Fund’s executive board plans to meet again on Friday after interviewing Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva over claims that she pressured World Bank staff to alter data to favor China in her previous role, a source familiar with the deliberations said.

A spokesperson for the IMF said the board would come together “soon” to discuss the matter but did not give a day.

“The Executive Board remains committed to a thorough, objective, and timely review and expects to meet again soon for further discussion,” the spokesperson said.

Georgieva on Wednesday again strongly denied the accusations in an external investigation report that she applied “undue pressure” on World Bank staff for changes that boosted China’s ranking in the “Doing Business 2018” report at a time when the bank was seeking Beijing’s support for a major capital increase.

In a detailed statement to the board, a copy of which was viewed by Reuters, Georgieva said the law firm that conducted the investigation, WilmerHale, mischaracterized her actions while serving as World Bank chief executive, and falsely told her that she was not a subject of its investigation.

She rejected WilmerHale’s conclusion that she and other senior World Bank officials pressured staff to alter data to boost China’s standing in the 2018 report on countries’ business climates, or any linkage with the capital increase.

“The idea that after nearly 20 years at the World Bank, I would suddenly start pressuring Bank staff inappropriately to change information in a Report is outrageous and untrue,” Georgieva told the IMF board. “The Bank and the Fund live by our data and our analysis. To corrupt these is simply unacceptable.”

The board is racing to complete its review of the allegations against Georgieva ahead of the annual IMF and World Bank meetings, which begin next week, where the global lender will unveil its latest economic projections.

Georgieva told the IMF’s board she remained committed “to my core” to fulfilling the vital mission of the IMF.

No comment was immediately available from WilmerHale.

The World Bank data rigging scandal has dented the research reputations of both institutions, raising critical questions over whether that work is subject to shareholder influence, former staff, government officials and outside experts say.

On Monday, IMF board members spent five hours questioning lawyers from the WilmerHale firm about their investigation report, and how it was conducted.

Georgieva took issue with WilmerHale’s handling of the probe, noting that some of her comments were taken out of context, she was falsely assured that her testimony was confidential and was never given a chance to review her testimony for accuracy.

Thus far, the fund’s most influential member governments, including top shareholder the United States, have withheld public judgment as the review process plays out.

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by : Reuters

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