Daily Management Review

Pressure On Staff To Boost China’s Ranking Was Exerted By Former World Bank Boss Georgieva


An investigation at the World Bank has revealed that "undue pressure" on the organization’s staff was imposed by leaders at the bank, including the then-Chief Executive Kristalina Georgieva, to enhance ranking of China in its "Doing Business 2018" report.
Concerns about China's influence at the World Bank were noted in the investigaiotn report that was prepared by law firm WilmerHale at the behest of the ethics committee of the bank.  It also raised questions about the judgment of Georgieva – who now is the managing director of the International Monetary Fund – as well as the then-World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.
She disagreed "fundamentally with the findings and interpretations" of the report, Georgieva said, and added that she had briefed the IMF’s executive board of the report.
The entire of the "Doing Business" report on business climates was cancelled by the World Bank Group on Thursday following the publication of the report as it argued that internal audits and the WilmerHale investigation had noted "ethical matters, including the conduct of former Board officials, as well as current and/or former Bank staff."
The United States was analysing what it called the "serious findings", said the US Treasury Department, which manages the large shareholdings of the US in the IMF as well as in the World Bank.
"Direct and indirect pressure" was exerted by senior staff in Kim's office for changing the methodology of the "Doing Business" report so that China’s score was boosted, the WilmerHale report noted, and added that such an action was likely taken at the direction of Kim.
The report noted that Georgieva, and a key adviser, Simeon Djankov, had exerted undue pressure on the bank’s staff to "make specific changes to China's data points" and increase the country’s ranking while the organization at that time was looking out for support from China for a large capital investment in the Bank.
No official comments on the report were found from Kim and Djankov.
Following changes in data methodology, the ranking of China in the "Doing Business 2018" report, which was released in October 2017, was increased by seven position to 78 compared to the initial draft that was prepared.
The factors that are considered for ranking countries in the "Doing Business" report include the regulatory and legal environments, ease of business startups, financing, infrastructure and other business climate measures applicable in a country.
Two years ago Georgieva was appointed as the chief of the IMF and soon after Fund faced the biggest global economic crisis in the 76- years of its history because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 
US Treasury spokeswoman Alexandra LaManna told the media that the Department was analyzing the "serious findings" in the WilmerHale report. "Our primary responsibility is to uphold the integrity of international financial institutions,” LaManna said.
Pressure was also exerted linked to data that was used to rank other countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan in the "Doing Business 2020" which was published in 2019, the WilmerHale report also noted. However, in this latest instance, the investigation did not find any role of any members of the World Bank's Office of the President or executive board.
"Going forward, we will be working on a new approach to assessing the business and investment climate," the World Bank said.