The International Monetary Fund and World Bank recently had their annual meetings in Washington. In a world plagued by energy shortages, supply-chain disruption and an inflationary threat following the Covid-19 pandemic, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank are more needed than ever. But their annual meetings have been overshadowed by a controversy blown out of all proportion. Since it involves China, it doesn’t look like it will go away any time soon. The furore has to do with IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva when she was No 2 at the World Bank. She was accused of pressuring a data team responsible for compiling the bank’s flagship annual publication, Doing Business, to move China’s rankings up seven places to 78th in its index, for the 2018 edition. If this had involved any other country, it’s doubtful US politicians would have fretted so much, but they have been relentless. An American law firm hired to investigate concluded Georgieva did exercise undue influence. Washington has called for her resignation. The IMF board has announced she will stay. A second report probing more broadly into possible wrongdoings by World Bank staff will come out soon. It may offer more ammunition for critics of Georgieva, who has long been considered too “China-friendly”. Multilateral organisations such as the IMF, the World Bank and the World Health Organization like to pretend they are independent and rules-based when their funding and policies are heavily influenced, if not determined, by the more powerful member countries. When global politics is relatively calm and powerful states have fewer beefs with each other, such international bodies may work effectively and unhindered. Today, the world economy and global health are under threat. But the bitter rivalry between the US and China has spilled over into the boardrooms of the IMF, World Bank and WHO, at a time when they are more needed than ever. If the great powers demand those organisations to be fully transparent and accountable, they must first hold themselves to the same standards of objectivity and impartiality. Sadly, they prefer being accusers than honest brokers.