US Senators Call for “Full Accountability” in World Bank Data Controversy



WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 (Reuters) – Top Democrats and Republicans on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee have urged President Joe Biden to “take full responsibility” for the World Bank data rigging controversy that has involved the director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva.

Panel chairman Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat, and Republican Senator James Risch, said in a letter posted Monday that Biden should order the US Treasury Department to “exercise due diligence and, if necessary, ensure full accountability.”

Georgieva, who has served as IMF managing director since April 2019, pushes back against claims of a world bank external investigation report that when she was CEO of the bank in 2017, she put “undue pressure” on staff to change data that improved China’s ranking in the World Bank’s flagship “Doing Business” report on countries’ investment climates.

Georgieva on Friday called the allegations against her “false and misleading” and accused the office of former World Bank President Jim Yong Kim of manipulating the data. .

European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis met Georgieva on Monday in Washington and released a Tweeter, saying: “Always good to see @KGeorgia from the IMF”, and that the IMF has shown “real leadership” in distributing currency reserves to member countries.

So far, the US Treasury Department – which controls dominant US stakes in both organizations – has said little about the matter beyond investigating the allegations against Georgieva.

Treasury spokeswoman Alexandra LaManna declined to comment on a Bloomberg report that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has refused to take Georgieva’s calls since the controversy erupted 10 days ago. A Georgieva personal spokesperson declined to comment on the report.

“As we have made clear, the Treasury considers the report’s findings to be serious and 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. “Our primary responsibility is to maintain the integrity of international financial institutions.

More prominent economists and women leaders came to Georgieva defense with published opinion pieces and tweets, including Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, who written in the Financial Times that the allegation against Georgieva is “venial at first sight” and that to oust him would be “a dangerous and costly surrender to anti-Beijing hysteria”.


But Menendez and Risch called the allegations “deeply disturbing” and that the IMF and World Bank data should be considered “unassailable”, but they did not call for Georgieva’s resignation.

“At first glance, it is difficult to overstate the seriousness of the allegations that Ms. Georgieva is endangering the integrity of the data and the Bank to meet the needs of the Chinese government,” the senators wrote in a letter dated 22. September.

“The impact these allegations could have on the strength and reputation of our international financial institutions and the Bretton Woods system is still unknown – but they surely will not be good.”

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Michael Perry

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