An investigation implicates the director of the IMF, who has been accused of pressure to leave Beijing
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva lobbied in 2017 to revise a World Bank report where she was posted at the time to leave China, an independent investigation commissioned by the international body and made public on Thursday.
Ms Georgieva said she “disagreed” with the findings of the investigation, whose authors interviewed dozens of employees, current and former, and scrutinized 80,000 documents.
Faced with these revelations, the World Bank announced that it is halting the publication of its annual “Doing Business” report – the one for 2018 that is enshrined here. She said she was working on “a new approach to assessing the business and investment environment”.
China did not appreciate its 78th place in the bank’s “Doing Business” report in 2017.
To prevent her from falling again in the following year’s rankings, and to gain her signature in sensitive negotiations, the Washington-based institution has used great means, according to an investigation by the law firm WilmerHale, requested by the Committee of the World. Bank.
It emerges that “pressure – direct and indirect” – by senior officials in President Jim Yong Kim’s office – “possibly at the latter’s request” – has been exerted to change China’s ranking.
And shortly before the publication of the 2018 edition, the Managing Director of the World Bank, Kristalina Georgieva, requested an adaptation of the methodology and a revision of the criteria, according to the survey.
According to the investigation, Mrs Georgieva may have reprimanded a senior official of the institution for “mismanaging the bank’s relationship with China and not appreciating the importance of the Doing Business report for the country”.
Under pressure, their teams would then have changed some of the data, and allowed China to retain their 78th place instead of falling to 85th. The official rebuked, he was congratulated for “doing his job for multilateralism”.
– “Disastrous Policies” –
“The report speaks for itself,” a spokesperson for the bank limited itself to responding.
Kristalina Georgieva, who took charge of the IMF in October 2019, said on Thursday that she “fundamentally disagrees with the findings and interpretations” of the 2018 survey “with respect to (her) role in the report”.
“I have already had a meeting with the IMF’s board of directors on this subject,” she said in a statement sent to AFP.
Nadia Dar, head of Oxfam International in Washington, welcomed the halting “Doing Business” report, saying the classification “(ed) encourages governments to adopt destructive policies that worsen inequalities”.
The US Treasury asked him to analyze the report, citing “worrying findings”.
“Our primary responsibility is to maintain the integrity of international financial institutions,” the finance ministry said in a statement.
The change in ranking method, in January 2018, prompted the resignation of former World Bank chief economist Paul Romer, a few months after the Nobel was awarded.
At that time the World Bank denied any political influence in this ranking.
– “Toxic” culture –
Ongoing talks during the drafting of the 2018 rankings were related to a historic $13 billion increase in World Bank resources, which required the support of US President Donald Trump (who opposed concessional loans to China) to sign , but also Beijing, which had agreed to pay more for the loan.
Semyon Jankov, an official named in the investigation, spoke publicly against organizations that questioned other aspects of the report, including an implicit stance in favor of lower corporate taxes. He also called him a “Marxist” at a conference in 2019.
Law firm WilmerHel also examined the ‘Doing Business of 2020’ report related to Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but said they found no evidence that management was involved in the data alteration.
People eventually noted a “toxic” culture within the team in charge of the “Doing Business” report, particularly on that of Semyon Jankov, who was at the time an advisor to Kristalina Georgieva.
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