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IMF: Kristalina Georgieva saves her post as head of the Fund

By Joël Té-Léssia Assoko
Posted on Wednesday, 13 October 2021 17:09

Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, and President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi at the International Monetary Fund.

In a statement issued on the night of 11 October, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) confirmed that Kristalina Georgieva, the Bulgarian economist and senior official who has been at the helm of the financial institution since 1 October 2019, will remain in her post.

“The Executive Board reiterates its full confidence in the managing director’s leadership and her ability to continue to perform her duties effectively. The board has confidence in the managing director’s commitment to maintaining the highest standards of governance and integrity at the IMF,” the statement said.

Allegations

For several weeks and over the course of no less than eight sessions, the IMF’s Executive Board examined the role played – or not played – by the former World Bank’s number two in various alleged alterations regarding the 2018 Doing Business rankings.

Following an investigation by the law firm WilmerHale, the World Bank cancelled the publication of the Doing Business report on 16 September, alleging various violations committed at the time by the teams under the direction of Georgieva, notably to the benefit of China. A decision fiercely contested by the 68-year-old economist.

“The Executive Board found that the information presented during its review did not conclusively demonstrate that the managing director had played an inappropriate role with respect to the Doing Business 2018 report when she was the World Bank’s CEO,” the IMF management said.

Witch hunt

The fate of Georgieva, a former European Commissioner for International Cooperation, has been the subject of intense speculation in recent weeks, with some pointing to a strong reluctance on the part of the United States (16.5% of the IMF’s capital) and Japan (the second-largest shareholder with 6.14% of the capital) to keep the Bulgarian leader in her post without a thorough review of her role at the World Bank.

Others, including Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, denounced [what they termed as] a witch-hunt and a settling of scores against a leader who had defied Washington conservatism to help the countries of the South in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.

Bloomberg recently reported that according to French (Paris holds 4.03% of the IMF’s capital) and European sources, “the review of the WilmerHale report did not provide details of specific elements that would directly challenge Ms. Georgieva’s conduct.”

A decisive role

In an unpublished text released at the beginning of October, a dozen African ministers of economy and finance came out in support of the IMF boss.

“Kristalina Georgieva was instrumental in the unprecedented global allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) equivalent to $650bn, providing liquidity and reserve buffers to many countries in need. She has fought to advance multilateralism and we have always known her to be a strong advocate for developing nations. She has been an invaluable partner who has contributed to our collective successes,” they said in the letter co-signed by Benin’s Romuald Wadagni and Ivory Coast’s Adama Coulibaly.

African countries are represented at the IMF by, among others, Ita Mary Mannathoko (Botswana), Willie Nakunyada (Zimbabwe), Osana Jackson Odonye (Nigeria) and Hossein Mirshojaeian Hosseini (Iran).

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