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IMF chief Georgieva says data-rigging scandal won't hamper IMF-World Bank cooperation

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva on Wednesday said she did not expect a data-rigging scandal involving her former employer, the World Bank, to hamper decades of close collaboration between the two institutions.

FILE PHOTO: International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva speaks during a joint news conference at the end of the Summit on the Financing of African Economies in Paris, France May 18, 2021. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

Georgieva, who was cleared of wrongdoing in the matter by the IMF’s executive board on Monday, had sharply criticized a report prepared by law firm WilmerHale for the World Bank’s board, and the decision to make its findings public.

The law firm’s investigative report alleged that Georgieva and other senior World Bank officials applied “undue pressure” on bank staff to make changes to boost China’s ranking in the bank’s 2018 business climate report.

Georgieva vehemently denied the accusations, and she and her lawyer faulted WilmerHale for not telling her she was a subject of the probe.

Some of her backers, including Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz called the report a “hatchet job” by World Bank President David Malpass, and Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, called for Congress to investigate Malpass’s actions in the matter.

Malpass has declined comment beyond saying that the report speaks for itself.

Georgieva, a longtime World Bank official, told reporters that collaboration between the bank had been “strong for decades” and would remain so.

“I love the bank, and I love the fund,” she said, adding, “This is a twin institutional setup that has delivered for the members. … We have major, major challenges, where our institutions are best at addressing and working together.”

Those included efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing high debt levels among developing countries and joint work on financial sector assessments.

Georgieva brushed aside questions on whether a proposed new IMF Resilience and Sustainability Trust overlapped with the mandate of the World Bank, saying that fund officials were working closely with their bank counterparts in developing the new instrument.

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