Joe Biden’s team debates IMF chief’s fate as board probes ethics scandal

Treasury Department officials are debating whether the U.S., the Monetary Fund’s largest shareholder, should ask Managing Director to resign amid an ethics scandal, people familiar with the situation said.

The Treasury’s deliberation continues as the Washington-based fund said its executive board met with Georgieva on Wednesday as part of its ongoing review of an investigation by law firm WilmerHale, commissioned by the World Bank. It alleged that she pressured bank staff to adjust data for a ranking in China’s favor while working there previously. She took the helm of the IMF in 2019.

The 24-member board “remains committed to a thorough, objective, and timely review and expects to meet again soon for further discussion,” the IMF said in a statement.

The people who spoke to Bloomberg News about the U.S.’s position declined to be identified because the discussions are private. Washington’s stance is key in the matter because it has the biggest share of the fund’s voting rights at 16.5%.

“There is a review currently underway with the IMF board and Treasury has pushed for a thorough and fair accounting of all the facts,” Treasury spokeswoman Alexandra LaManna said. “Our primary responsibility is to uphold the integrity of financial institutions.” She declined to say whether the agency’s decision about Georgieva will be released publicly.

The executive board’s meeting went on for about five hours, and the body is due to reconvene on Friday, where executive directors may arrive at a common position, another person said.

On Monday, the executive board met with WilmerHale, it said in a statement.

Some staff at the fund, which employs about 2,700 people, have lost confidence in Georgieva, several people familiar with the matter said.

The IMF and World Bank annual meetings, taking place partially in person next week for the first time since the pandemic began, are normally a place to showcase the best research and new initiatives from the Bretton Woods institutions. But this year, employees throughout their ranks find themselves distracted by the scandal related to the World Bank’s “Doing Business” report and questions about Georgieva’s future, according to the people familiar with their internal dynamics.

The IMF didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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