Yellen tells IMF's Georgieva data-rigging probe raised 'legitimate' concerns-Treasury

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies during the House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies during the House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, U.S., September 30, 2021. Sarah Silbiger/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON, Oct 11 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Monday that a law firm's report into World Bank data-rigging allegations against the IMF chief "raised legitimate issues and concerns" but a lack of direct evidence meant a leadership change was unwarranted.

Yellen said in the statement that "proactive steps must be taken to reinforce data integrity and credibility at the IMF," and Georgieva and other Fund leaders must renew their commitment to upholding transparency in research, analysis and policies.

The call came after the IMF executive board on Monday reaffirmed its full confidence in Georgieva's leadership of the Fund after a lengthy review of a World Bank external investigation report. read more

The report by law firm WilmerHale alleged that when Georgieva was World Bank CEO in 2017, she pressured bank staff to alter data to boost China's score in the flagship "Doing Business" report. The firm's investigation is ongoing and will probe further World Bank staff misconduct in the 2017 China alterations and in 2019 alterations of Doing Business data affecting the scores of Saudi Arabia and other countries.

Yellen told Georgieva her priority in pushing for a thorough review of the matter was "to preserve the integrity and credibility of the World Bank and the IMF."

"Secretary Yellen also conveyed that Treasury will monitor follow-up closely, evaluate any new facts or findings and that the WilmerHale report does underscore the need for shareholders to be vigilant in defending the integrity of both the Bank and the Fund," the Treasury said in its statement.

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Kim Coghill & Shri Navaratnam

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