2021-09-17 20:20:20 Kristalina Georgieva Says Claims She Inflated China Data at World Bank Are ‘Not True’

Kristalina Georgieva Says Claims She Inflated China Data at World Bank Are ‘Not True’

WASHINGTON (AP) — According to people familiar with the meeting, Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, denied allegations that she pressured staff to manipulate a report to appease China when she was a top World Bank official, and said she cares deeply about the integrity of data and analysis.

According to a transcript of her remarks, she said, “I disagree with the implications for my role, and let me put it very simply: Not true.”

An internal World Bank investigation concluded a day earlier that Ms. Georgieva was part of a group of senior World Bank officials who pushed the team in charge of the annual Doing Business survey to inflate China’s standing in its 2018 report. The findings have raised concerns about Ms. Georgieva, who was the World Bank’s chief executive at the time, and have prompted an investigation by the I.M.F.’s ethics committee.

The meeting on Friday, which was mostly virtual, had been planned to prepare the I.M.F. staff for its annual meeting, which was co-hosted by the World Bank.

Ms. Georgieva addressed the controversy right away, reiterating her public statement that she “fundamentally disagrees” with the report’s characterizations and insisting that the investigation would not be a distraction. She did not go into detail about the allegations, but she did say that asking staff to double-check something was not the same as pressuring them to change data, methodology, or an outcome.

“I have not put pressure on staff to manipulate data in this case, nor in any previous or subsequent cases. “I would ask staff to please check, double-check, and triple-check the data, but never change or manipulate what the data tells us,” she said. “Why? Because I am so convinced of the importance of credible data and analysis that leads to policy recommendations for our members’ benefit. For the sake of the people.”

Ms. Georgieva expressed regret that the investigation had created such a stir, but she insisted that it would not be a distraction.

“It is my responsibility to ensure that this does not interfere with the extremely important work we do,” she stated. “So let us concentrate on that work, and that is the focus of the discussion we will have today.”

According to the World Bank investigation, which was conducted at the request of the bank’s ethics committee and was conducted by the law firm WilmerHale, officials in 2017 were concerned about negotiations with members over a capital increase and were under pressure not to anger China, which was ranked 78th on the list that year and was set to decline in the 2018 report.

Ms. Georgieva was found to be “directly involved” in efforts to improve China’s ranking, according to the investigation. Ms. Georgieva, according to the report, chastised the bank’s China director for mismanaging the bank’s relationship with the country at one point.

The World Bank announced the end of its annual Doing Business survey on Thursday.

The Treasury Department, which serves as America’s liaison to the I.M.F. and has significant voting power, expressed concern about the allegations and stated that it was reviewing the investigation’s findings.

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Kristalina Georgieva Says Claims She Inflated China Data at World Bank Are 'Not True'