IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva came under fire today for allegedly lobbying a report in favor of China when she was at the World Bank. She strongly denies this accusation.
Law firm WilmerHal discovered irregularities while preparing the World Bank’s Doing Business report in 2018 and 2020. The World Bank measures the report on ten indicators, among other things, of how easy it is to start a business and how open a country is to international competition. In addition, tax rules and bankruptcy legislation are scrutinized.
In 2017, China was not happy with its 78th place. In October of that year, just before the 2018 edition was published, the World Bank held talks with Beijing.
The law firm’s investigation concluded that Kristalina Georgieva, then-Director of the World Bank, and Jim Yong Kim, then-President of the World Bank, asked their teams to adapt the methodology to spare China.
Georgieva also reprimanded a senior World Bank official for “mishandling the World Bank’s relationship with China, and failing to appreciate the importance of Doing Business to the country,” the report said. WilmerHal analyzed 80,000 documents and surveyed dozens of current and former employees.
Under pressure, the official was said to have changed some data, leaving China in 78th place instead of dropping seven places. Georgieva then thanked him for “playing his part in pluralism” and helping “to solve the problem”.
Georgieva, who now heads the International Monetary Fund, denied the allegations. “I fundamentally disagree with the findings and interpretations” of this research, she told AFP. The US government says these are “serious results”. A Treasury spokeswoman said the United States was still investigating.
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