IMF board seeking more time, ‘clarifying details’ in data-rigging investigation

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The executive board of the International Monetary Fund said late Friday that it is seeking more “clarifying details” in its investigation into allegations that the head of the IMF pressured staff at the World Bank to change business rankings for China in an effort to placate that country.

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In her own statement late Friday, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said she had answered “all questions that have been put to me” and hoped that the investigation could be concluded as soon as possible.

The IMF’s 24-member executive board said it had made significant progress in its investigation but it agreed at Friday’s meeting “to request more clarifying details with a view to very soon concluding its consideration of this matter.”

Georgieva appeared before the panel for more than five hours Wednesday.

That appearance followed a presentation by the law firm WilmerHale that alleged Georgieva played a role in data-rigging when she was a top official at the World Bank. The report contended that she and other World Bank officials had pressured staff to alter data affecting the business climate rankings of China and other nations.

Georgieva has denied any wrongdoing and in a statement she presented to the board said “the WilmerHale Report does not characterize my actions with respect to Doing Business 2018, nor does it accurately portray my character or the way that I have conducted myself over a long professional career.”

The law firm’s report prompted the World Bank to discontinue the annual Doing Business report, which China and other countries had used to attract foreign business investment. The incident has prompted critics to contend that China, the world’s second largest economy, has too much influence over international finance organizations.

The 190-nation IMF and World Bank annual meetings will be held next week in Washington.

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