IMF chief rejects China report but vows 'candid' meeting with staff

After deliberating over whether she should keep her job, the IMF’s executive board issued a statement Monday evening expressing confidence in her.

Georgieva said the board did “a very credible and serious job.”

“When we presented finally two sides of the story next to each other, there was no there there,” she told reporters. “But that is not to say I don’t take the broader message of, make sure that staff always can reach out to superiors or through institutional channels to signal discontent, disagreement, and in all my professional life I have been striving for that.”

She said she will meet with staff next Monday for a “very candid, open discussion.”

The scandal comes at an awkward time at the two organizations, right in the middle of their annual fall meetings that bring in top officials from around the world. The episode also touches on questions of China’s influence at the Fund, leading some Republicans in Congress to publicly criticize the U.S.’s decision not to seek her ouster. More broadly, it has raised questions about the integrity of the research put out by the IMF.

“Institutions always have to strive to do better, even if they are excellent, as it is the case with the IMF,” Georgieva said. “The IMF staff is exemplary in the way they carry out their work. There is no doubt in the credibility of the IMF or our data or our research.”

The U.S. Treasury Department is planning to monitor closely how Georgieva handles the fallout from this investigation and also made several requests of her, according to a source familiar with the Biden administration’s thinking.

Treasury believed that there wasn’t enough direct evidence to justify removing Georgieva, the source said. But WilmerHale is also working on a second report on potential misconduct of staff members, and the U.S. is planning to take that report as seriously as the first.

In Congress, Georgieva will continue to face some suspicion. Next week, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on U.S. particpation in international financial institutions.

“The IMF cannot credibly insist that China adhere to international rules of the road if everyone knows Ms. Georgieva acted improperly to keep Beijing happy,” Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said in a statement to POLITICO. “The Biden Administration should have insisted on the highest standards for accountability at the IMF. Instead, they caved to pressure from other countries that want to sweep these scandals under the rug.”

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