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Former World Bank senior leaders say embattled IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva is ‘under attack’ and want the world to know she is a person of ‘utmost integrity’

Former World Bank senior leaders say embattled IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva is 'under attack'

Former World Bank senior leaders on Sunday released a joint statement in support of the embattled International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director and former World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva, asserting that she is a person of “utmost integrity” who is simply “under attack.” They did not specify who the attackers are.

“We have worked with Ms. Georgieva personally, including on very sensitive issues involving staff, shareholder concerns, operational matters and upholding the Bank’s standards in corporate governance but also in its lending. She is the person of the utmost integrity and commitment to development,” they wrote. “We now stand by her when she herself is under attack.”

Those who signed the statement released via a public relations and reputation management firm included Katherine Sierra, Former Vice President, Sustainable Development, World Bank; Tunc Uyanik, Former Director, East Asia FPD and Financial Systems Global Practice, World Bank; Samy Watson, PhD, Former Executive Director for Canada, World Bank Executive Board; Dr. Janamitra Devan, Former Joint Vice President, World Bank and the International Finance Corporation; Stefano Negri, Former Manager, Office of the CEO, and Competitiveness and Innovation Practice, World Bank; and Rogerio Studart, Former Executive Director for Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Philippines, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago (EDS15), World Bank Executive Board.

They wrote, “We have been completely dismayed by the so called investigation report that was done by a Washington DC law firm WilmerHale on Data Irregularities in Doing Business, by consequent public disclosure of the report that is based on innuendo, misrepresentations, and conspiracy theories and unethical release of the names of our former colleagues, and what followed – a character attack on Kristalina Georgieva. The sensationalist headlines made from this report now threaten to undermine the functioning of important Bretton Woods Institutions in such concerning times for the world.

“It is clear, the authors of the report had not made an effort to diligently understand how the Doing Business report is prepared and its history, nor do they show any understanding of the roles of various staff and senior management at the World Bank. 

“We have worked with Ms. Georgieva personally, including on very sensitive issues involving staff, shareholder concerns, operational matters and upholding the Bank’s standards in corporate governance but also in its lending. She is the person of the utmost integrity and commitment to development. The allegations of the report are just absurd and do not reflect who she is. 

“She made the organization better and more inclusive and responsive to the needs it serves, she made an extraordinary effort to engage everyone in the organization’s life and changes she constantly pursued, from the very junior staff who just joined to the senior management team. She has always been open to debate, asked the right questions, tested the assumptions and made effective and transparent decisions, trying to keep everyone on board. 

“As the Bank’s CEO, she made an impossible happen – agreed with the shareholders on the capital increase at the time when no one thought this was possible. She was one strong voice for multilateralism when it was under the attack. 

“We now stand by her when she herself is under attack.”

Others back Georgieva, including African finance ministers

Last week, prominent women leaders around the world voiced their support for Georgieva. Their support followed an endorsement by several other prominent leaders, including professor Nicholas Stern, the Chair of the Grantham Research Institute, who served as Chief Economist and Senior Vice President at the World Bank from 2000-2003.

Stern sent a letter to the Dean of the IMF Board Aleksei Mozhin in support of Georgieva.

On Friday, finance ministers from 16 African nations also released a joint statement in support of Georgieva.

“Many of us have known, interacted, and collaborated with Ms. Georgieva for many years. In our frequent meetings, we found her to be a true partner. In our dealings, she has demonstrated integrity, energy and progressive advice. As we mark her second anniversary as IMF MD, we can confidently say she has brought a human touch to development and to the organization she leads,” wrote the ministers of finance and economy from the nations of Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan and Togo.

Georgieva released her own statement about two weeks ago, denying any wrongdoing, after the findings of an independent probe concluded that she helped boost China’s global ranking in a 2018 world economies report while she was World Bank head.

The future of Georgieva has been uncertain since an investigation into manipulation of an annual World Bank report found that the bank’s former chief executive directed staff to inflate China data.

More specifically, Georgieva was called out by her previous employer, the World Bank, for allegedly applying pressure on staff to alter data to boost China’s position in a ranking economies.

The World Bank said in a review released in December that China’s position in the 2018 report (ease of doing business report), which was released in October 2017, should have been at number 85, seven places lower than number 78 which is where China ended up featuring.

But in her statement, Georgieva denied any wrongdoing, saying she remained professional and that the conclusions of the report are “wrong.”

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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