Ms. Georgieva addressed the controversy at the outset of the meeting, reiterating her public statement that she “fundamentally disagrees” with the characterizations in the report and insisting that the inquiry would not be a distraction. She did not litigate the details of the allegations, but she said that asking staff to double-check something was not the same as pressuring it to change data, methodology or an outcome.
“Neither in this case nor before or after have I put pressure on staff to manipulate data. I would ask staff to please check, double-check, triple-check, but never change, never manipulate what the data tells us,” she said. “Why? Because I believe so strongly in the value of credible data and analysis that leads to policy recommendations for the benefit of our members. For the benefit of people.”
Ms. Georgieva expressed remorse that the inquiry had caused an uproar, but she insisted that it would not be a distraction.
“It is my responsibility that this does not interfere with the incredibly important work we do,” she said. “So let’s focus on that work, and that is what the focus of the discussion we will have today is all about.”
According to the World Bank investigation, which was conducted by the law firm WilmerHale at the request of the bank’s ethics committee, officials in 2017 were concerned about negotiations with members over a capital increase and were under pressure not to anger China, which was ranked 78th on the list of countries that year and was set to decline in the 2018 report.