U.S. Senators call for ‘full accountability’ in World Bank data controversy By Reuters
By David Lawder and Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Democrat and Republican on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee have urged President Joe Biden to “ensure full accountability” over a World Bank data-rigging controversy that has embroiled International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva.
In a Monday letter, the panel’s Chairman, Senator Robert Menendez (a Democrat) and Republican Senator James Risch stated that Biden should ask U.S. Treasury Department officials to do their diligence “with all due haste” and ensure complete accountability.
Georgieva has been IMF’s managing Director since April 2019. She is responding to allegations made in an outside World Bank investigation that she used “undue pressure” upon staff in 2017 when she was CEO of the bank. This helped China rank higher in “Doing Business”, the World Bank’s most prestigious report on countries’ investment climates.
On Friday, Georgieva called the allegations against her “false and spurious” and accused the office of the World Bank’s past president, Jim Yong Kim, of manipulating the data..
European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis met with Georgieva on Monday in Washington and issued a supportive tweet, saying: “Always good to see IMF’s @KGeorgieva,” and that the IMF has shown “real leadership” in a distribution of monetary reserves to member countries.
While the U.S. Treasury Department controls the largest shareholdings of the United States in both organisations, it has so far not said much beyond the fact that they are studying Georgieva’s allegations.
Alexandra LaManna (Treasury spokeswoman) declined to comment about a Bloomberg article that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had declined calls from Georgieva after the controversy broke 10 Days ago. The report was not commented on by Georgieva’s personal spokesperson.
“As we have made clear, Treasury believes the report’s findings are serious and have warranted a full review by the IMF of the managing director’s role in the Doing Business Report,” LaManna said, echoing a statement made shortly after the scandal broke. We have the primary responsibility to ensure the integrity of all international financial institutions.
Georgieva was defended by more prominent economists, women leaders, and Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University’s professor of economics, who said in Financial Times that the allegations against Georgieva are “venial on their face” and that it would be a risky and expensive act to submit to anti-Beijing hypertrophy.
But Menendez and Risch called the allegations “deeply disturbing” and that IMF and World Bank data must be seen as “unimpeachable,” but they did not call for Georgieva to step down.
The Senators sent a letter on Sept 22 stating that the severity of Georgieva’s allegations about compromising the integrity of data and the Bank catering to China Government was hard to overstate.
“The impact these allegations could have on the strength and reputation of our international financial institutions and the Bretton Woods system are still unknown – but surely they will not be good.”
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