The controversy heavily implicates Georgieva and creates an uncomfortable dilemma for the Biden government, which aims to maintain its calm but tough stance on China. Still, some officials have viewed it more as a reputational problem for the IMF, a forum for global cooperation on exchange rates, trade and financial stability. The US and its allies have a controlling number of votes on the IMF board, and China has tried to expand its influence there.
Georgieva left the World Bank in April 2019 and was appointed head of the IMF that same year. She has resolutely denied doing anything inappropriate.
“I categorically disagree with the findings and interpretations of the data irregularity investigation related to my role in the World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business Report,” she said in a statement last month. “I already had an initial briefing with the IMF Executive Board on this matter.”
Treasury officials were asked if the Biden administration wanted them with the fund.
“A review is currently underway with the IMF board, and the Treasury Department has pushed for a thorough and fair presentation of all facts,” Treasury Department spokeswoman Alexandra LaManna said in a statement. “Our main responsibility is to uphold the integrity of international financial institutions.”
The IMF board met with Georgieva on Wednesday and said it was “still committed to a thorough, objective and timely review”. It also met with WilmerHale, the law firm that produced the report, on Monday.
Former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz recently defended Georgieva in a comment in Project Syndicate, argues that the investigation “seems like a hatchet job”.
“Georgieva has consistently acted professionally, doing exactly what I would have done (and had to do on occasion when I was chief economist): asking my co-workers to make sure their numbers are correct, or as accurate as possible, given the inherent Data restrictions, ”he wrote.
The IMF and World Bank will have their annual fall meetings next week.