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Factbox-IMF, World Bank plagued by leadership upsets, scandals

Investigations into the roles of now-IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and former World Bank president Jim Yong Kim in altering World Bank data to favor China are the latest in a series of leadership controversies at the two institutions.

The International Monetary Fund’s executive board is reviewing an external World Bank investigation report that said both Georgieva, during her time as World Bank CEO, and Kim, through subordinates, applied “undue pressure” for data changes to boost China’s rankings score in the bank’s “Doing Business” report on countries’ business climates.

The scandal could do lasting damage to the two organizations’ reputations on the world stage.

Georgieva has denied the allegations. Kim has not responded to requests for comment on the matter.

Here are some of the controversies involving IMF and World Bank leaders in the past 15 years.

CHRISTINE LAGARDE, IMF

Lagarde, who served as the IMF’s leader from 2011 through mid-2019, faced negligence charges in France stemming from a state payout made while she served as France’s finance minister in 2008.

Lagarde was convicted in December 2016 by a French court of negligence and a misuse of public funds for her failure to contest a 400 million-euro arbitration payout to tycoon Bernard Tapie, a supporter of France’s then-president Nicolas Sarkozy. But the verdict came with no fine or jail term for Lagarde.

Hours after the ruling, the IMF’s executive board reaffirmed its full confidence in Lagarde’s ability to lead the crisis lender.

JIM YONG KIM, WORLD BANK

Kim abruptly resigned as World Bank president in January 2019, more than three years before the end of his term, ending a tumultuous tenure that included a doubling of the bank’s lending capacity with a $13 billion capital increase. Kim left staff fuming over budget and job cuts a $94,000 bonus for the executive who engineered them, and efforts to reorganize the bank away from its traditional country-focused management.

Kim had persuaded the Obama administration to nominate him in 2016 for a second five-year term — a year early — partly to block the potential for Donald Trump to choose a World Bank president should he win the U.S. presidential election that year.

The bank’s staff association had urged the bank’s board in a letter to conduct an open competition, including non-Americans, and said the tradition of “backroom deals” resulting in American male World Bank chiefs must change.

A month after announcing that the World Bank would double its investments to fight climate change in the five years from 2019, Kim shocked the development world by quitting the bank and joining Global Infrastructure Partners, a private-sector firm investing in projects in both developing and wealthy countries.

The former Dartmouth College president told staff he would be able to have a greater impact fighting climate change in the “unexpected” private-sector opportunity than at the World Bank.

DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN, IMF

Strauss-Kahn was arrested in May 2011 on charges that he sexually assaulted a maid in his New York hotel suite, with police pulling him off a Paris-bound jetliner at John F. Kennedy Airport.

He resigned from the IMF four days later from a Rikers Island jail cell, a decision that sources said was made without pressure from the Fund.

Strauss-Kahn denied the charges, which were dropped three months later, but the episode shattered his career and derailed his political ambitions in France, where he was once considered a top contender for president.

He settled for an undisclosed sum a civil lawsuit filed by the maid who had accused him of trying to rape her.

His departure led to the selection of Lagarde as the first woman to lead the IMF but India, Brazil, Mexico and other emerging market nations challenged the tradition of appointing a European IMF chief by backing candidates from developing countries.

Strauss-Kahn had earlier faced IMF staff complaints of harassment, favoritism and abuse of power over a consensual affair he had with an IMF staff economist in January 2008, two months after joining the Fund. An IMF board inquiry had cleared him without disciplinary action, but the board called the incident a “serious error of judgment.”

PAUL WOLFOWITZ, WORLD BANK

Wolfowitz, an architect of former U.S. president George W. Bush’s war in Iraq as deputy defense secretary, was a controversial choice to head the poverty-fighting World Bank in June 2005.

Controversy erupted among World Bank staff over his role in granting a promotion and pay rise for his companion, Shaha Riza, a Middle East expert, who was given an external assignment at the U.S. State Department in September 2005.

A World Bank panel in 2007 found Wolfowitz violated several staff rules, including granting an excessive pay increase beyond bank norms. Wolfowitz argued that he followed the advice of the World Bank board’s ethics committee in arranging Riza’s transfer, and retained the backing of the U.S. Treasury secretary at the time, Henry Paulson.

But a majority of countries on the bank’s board sought to oust him and he resigned his position on June 30, saying: “The poorest people in the world … deserve the very best we can deliver.”
Source: Reuters (Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Kieran Murray)

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