IMF to decide fate of leader Georgieva

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The International Monetary Fund's executive board has been meeting with managing director Kristalina Georgieva and the law firm that claims she pressured World Bank staff to change data to favour China in her previous job, sources familiar with the matter say.

The 24-member board plans to meet again on Monday to decide Georgieva's future at the helm of the global lender, just as top officials from many of its 190 member countries arrive for IMF and World Bank meetings in Washington, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The IMF's executive board debated the matter for five hours on Friday before adjourning and scheduling separate meetings on Sunday with Georgieva and attorneys from the WilmerHale law firm.

Those meetings stretched into the evening hours on Sunday.

The scandal threatens to overshadow the high-profile meetings, where Georgieva, World Bank President David Malpass and other senior officials plan to discuss the global economy, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and international taxation.

Georgieva has strongly denied the allegations, which date back to 2017 when she was the World Bank's chief executive.

WilmerHale's investigation report prepared for the World Bank board alleged Georgieva applied "undue pressure" on bank staff at the time to make data changes to boost China's ranking in the flagship Doing Business report, just as the bank was seeking Beijing's support for a major capital increase.

Georgieva's lawyer says WilmerHale probe violated World Bank staff rules in part by denying her an opportunity to respond to the accusations, an assertion the law firm disputes.

No comment was immediately available from Georgieva or the law firm about Sunday's meetings.

France and other European governments on Friday backed the Bulgarian economist to complete her term as IMF chief, while US officials and others sought more time to study the differing accounts about data irregularities in the World Bank's now-cancelled flagship Doing Business report.

The Financial Times on Sunday reported the United States and Japan want Georgieva out of the job, without citing any specific sources.

The US Treasury, which controls 16.5 per cent of the IMF's shares, declined to comment on the FT report. No comment was immediately available from the Japanese embassy in Washington.

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