Did the IMF Managing Director lobbied in 2017 to modify a World Bank report? This is what is accused Kristalina Georgieva, while she was in office at the time, according to an independent investigation commissioned by the international institution and made public Thursday, September 16. Kristalina Georgieva said she “disagrees” with the conclusions of this investigation, whose authors interviewed dozens of employees, current and former, and sifted through 80,000 documents.
Faced with these revelations, the World Bank announced that it was stopping the publication of its annual “Doing Business” report – it is the one for 2018 that is accused here. She said she was working on a “new approach to assess the business and investment climate”. This report establishes a ranking of countries with the most favorable climate for economic activity and business, according to several parameters. In 2017, China had little appreciated its 78th place in the “Doing Business” report of the Bank.
To prevent him from falling further in the ranking of the following year, and to obtain his signature in sensitive negotiations, the Washington-based institution has employed great means, according to an investigation by the law firm WilmerHale, mandated by the committee of the World Bank. It emerges that “pressure – direct and indirect” has been exerted by senior officials in President Jim Yong Kim’s office – “presumably at the latter’s request” – to change China’s ranking.
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And shortly before the publication of the 2018 edition, Kristalina Georgieva, at the time Managing Director of the World Bank, according to the survey requested the adaptation of the methodology and the modification of the criteria. Kristalina Georgieva would have reprimanded a senior official of the institution for “having mismanaged the Bank’s relations with China and not having appreciated the importance of the ‘Doing Business’ report for the country”, according to the survey. Under pressure, his teams would then have changed some data, and allowed China to keep its 78th place instead of falling to 85th. The official reprimanded, he was praised for having “done his part of the work for multilateralism”. “The report speaks for itself”, simply reacted to a spokesperson for the Bank.
Kristalina Georgieva, who took over as head of the IMF in October 2019, said on Thursday that she “fundamentally disagrees with the findings and interpretations” of this survey “regarding (her) role in the” 2018 report. “J I have already held a meeting with the IMF’s board of directors on this subject, “she added in this statement. The stopping of the “Doing Business” report was hailed by Nadia Daar, head of Oxfam International in Washington, saying that this classification “encourages (ed) governments to adopt destructive policies which worsen inequalities”.
The US Treasury told him to analyze the report, citing “worrying conclusions”. “Our primary responsibility is to preserve the integrity of international financial institutions,” the finance ministry said in a statement. The changes in the ranking methodology had, in January 2018, prompted the resignation of the chief economist of the World Bank, Paul Romer, nobelized a few months later.
The World Bank at the time denied any political influence in this ranking. Paul Romer was worried about “arbitrary” changes, which had significantly changed the ranking of several countries, including Chile. “When I asked these questions, Kristalina undertook a cover-up, a make-up,” the economist explained in an interview on Thursday. “I was referring to people who lacked integrity. It was intolerable.” “The methods of intimidation that are described in this report were real,” said Paul Romer.
The negotiations underway during the drafting of the 2018 ranking concerned the historic increase of 13 billion dollars in the resources of the World Bank, the signing of which required the support of US President Donald Trump (who had opposed concessional loans to China) but also from Beijing, which had agreed to pay more for the loans.
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Simeon Djankov, an official named in the investigation, had publicly spoken out against organizations that questioned other aspects of the report, including the implicit stance in favor of lower corporate taxes. He even called them “Marxists” at a conference in 2019.
Law firm WilmerHale also investigated the 2020 Doing Business report concerning Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but said they found no evidence that management was involved. in data changes. The people questioned finally reported a “toxic” culture within the team in charge of the “Doing Business” report, in particular on the part of Simeon Djankov, who was then an advisor to Kristalina Georgieva.
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