World Bank Scandal Touches IMF

Managing director of the IMF was found culpable in the World Bank Doing Business report scandal in which data was falsified.

Kristalina Georgieva committed to helping countries “minimize the risk of crises” following her selection as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director in 2019. Yet, two years later, she is at the center of another crisis: a scandal over allegedly fudging numbers in her previous role as World Bank CEO.

That’s when, according to an independent probe, Georgieva allegedly influenced the doctoring of data in the Doing Business report to improve China’s ranking.

An independent probe into the World Bank scandal concluded that Georgieva is culpable. Her “actions…played a key role in the changes to China’s data,” according to the authors of the investigators report. However, Georgieva denies any wrongdoing and “disagree[s] fundamentally with the [investigation’s] findings and interpretations.”

Irrespective of her denial, the scandal has done its damage. As the face of the IMF, an institution for which integrity is everything, the scandal risks undermining the body’s authority if she remains at the helm, many say. Alicia García-Herrero, a senior fellow at Brussels-based economic think tank Bruegel, reckons that “the IMF will become even more political,” which could open a floodgate of countries seeking to compromise its decisions.

The Doing Business report had long served as a compass that provided direction to emerging-market investment policies and as a whip the private sector used to force governments toward market-oriented policy. “The report has helped us in business reforms and enhancing competitiveness,” says Carole Kariuki, the CEO of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.

Given the uproar, however, the World Bank decided to discontinue it. Georgieva remains in her post at the IMF.