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International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Kristalina Georgieva has denied all wrongdoing. Photo: EPA-EFE

IMF briefed on probe into China’s ‘Doing Business’ report rankings at World Bank

  • The World Bank cancelled the ‘Doing Business’ report partly due to an investigation by law firm WilmerHale
  • It found that Kristalina Georgieva, then the chief executive of the World Bank, and other senior staff had pressured economists to improve China’s 2018 ranking

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Monday its board of directors has been briefed by lawyers from the law firm whose investigation found that current managing director Kristalina Georgieva and other officials pressured World Bank employees to alter data affecting the business rankings of China and other nations.

The IMF said the 190-nation lending agency’s board of directors met with representatives of the WilmerHale law firm as part of an ongoing review of the issues raised by the firm’s investigation into the World Bank’s “Doing Business 2018” report.

The Doing Business report evaluated a country’s tax burdens, bureaucratic obstacles, regulatory system and other business conditions, and its rankings was used by some governments to try to attract investment.

The IMF said in a statement that the board would soon meet with Georgieva as part of its review of the matter.

The statement said the IMF’s board “remains committed to a thorough, objective and timely review” of the issues raised by the report.

The investigation prompted the World Bank to end the annual Doing Business reports. The report found that Georgieva, then the chief executive of the World Bank, and other senior World Bank leaders had pressured the bank’s economists to improve China’s 2018 ranking at a time when she and other officials were attempting to persuade China to support a boost in the World Bank’s funding resources.

The incident has led to calls for Georgieva to resign from the IMF’s top job. It has also served to underscore complaints that China has too much influence over global financial institutions.

Georgieva has denied all wrongdoing and in a statement issued after the report came out last month, she said “let me be clear. The conclusions are wrong. I did not pressure anyone to alter any reports”.

Georgieva said she was looking forward to meeting with the IMF board to brief them on her actions.

The controversy is coming ahead of the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank, which will take place next week in Washington.