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Kristalina Georgieva’s tenure at the IMF is in limbo as the council weighs up the charges against her.


WASHINGTON — Kristalina Georgieva’s tenure as general manager of the International Monetary Fund faces a pivotal moment on Friday, as the fund’s board of directors meets to decide whether she should remain its leader after allegations that she pressured staff to manipulate a report to calm China when she was a top World Bank official.

The board of directors spent hours this week questioning Ms. Georgieva about her actions. They also interviewed lawyers from WilmerHale, the law firm that conducted the World Bank’s internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Doing Business investigation. The company conducted an internal assessment published last month and concluded that Ms. Georgieva played a central role in interfering with the report, raising questions about her judgment and her ability to continue to lead the IMF.

Ms Georgieva has denied the allegations and in a meeting with the board on Wednesday offered a strong rebuttal.

“The WilmerHale report does not accurately describe my actions regarding Doing Business 2018, nor does it accurately reflect my character or the way I have conducted myself over a long professional career,” Ms Georgieva said in a statement to the board that was released. obtained by The New York Times.

Mr Georgieva, a Bulgarian economist who took on the top IMF job in 2019, also criticized the nature of the World Bank’s investigation, saying she had been misled.

“WilmerHale’s email requesting my participation clearly stated that I was not a subject of the investigation and assured me that my testimony was confidential and protected by the World Bank’s human resources rules, which ensure a fair trial,” said Ms. Georgia. “None of this turned out to be true.”

The controversy surrounding Ms. Georgieva has raised questions about China’s influence in multilateral institutions. It has also become a distraction for the IMF as it seeks to help coordinate the global economic response to the pandemic. Prominent economists have publicly debated whether she should resign. The Economist magazine called last month for the resignation of Ms Georgieva.

The United States, the fund’s largest shareholder, has not yet offered public support and officials have declined to say whether she should remain in the job.

“A review is currently underway with the IMF board, and the Treasury Department has insisted on thorough and fair accounting of all facts,” said Alexandra LaManna, a spokeswoman for the Treasury Department. “Our primary responsibility is to maintain the integrity of international financial institutions.”

Former World Bank officials have described Ms. Georgieva as a polarizing figure, but she has been widely praised at the IMF. When she took the job in 2019, she quickly restructured the fund to gain more direct control over day-to-day operations. That included removing David Lipton, a long-time IMF official and first deputy director, before his term expired.

Mr Lipton is now a top advisor to Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen who will make a significant contribution to whether Ms Georgieva will remain in office.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress have expressed concern about Ms. Georgieva’s actions at the World Bank and have called on Ms. Yellen to “be fully accountable”.

The United States traditionally elects an American as president of the World Bank, while the general manager of the IMF usually comes from Europe.

The IMF board will meet again on Friday to decide whether to maintain confidence in Ms Georgieva.

The annual meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund will take place next week.

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