The World Bank Group on Thursday, September 16, confirmed that it will cease publication of its "Doing Business" rankings of country business climates after a review of data irregularities in the 2018 and 2020 reports cited "undue pressure" by top bank officials, including then-Chief Executive Kristalina Georgieva, to boost China's ranking in 2017.
The lender said also added that it will work on a new approach to analysing business and investment climate in countries. Georgieva, who is now the International Monetary Fund's Managing Director, was called out by the World Bank for applying pressure to boost China's position in a ranking of economies.
The bank cited that Georgieva, along with an adviser pressured staff to "make specific changes to China's data points in an effort to increase its ranking at precisely the same time the country was expected to play a key role in the bank's capital increase campaign."
'Disagree With Findings'
Georgieva said she disagreed with the findings. "I disagree fundamentally with the findings and interpretations of the Investigation of Data Irregularities as it relates to my role in the World Bank's Doing Business report of 2018," Georgieva said in a statement.
In a statement, the World Bank said in a statement that the decision came after internal audit reports had raised "ethical matters, including the conduct of former Board officials as well as current and/or former Bank staff" and a board investigation conducted by the law firm WilmerHale.
What Was China's Original Position?
In the 2018 report, which was released in October 2017, China's position should have been seven places lower (at No 85 rather than remaining at 78) the World Bank said in a review released in December. Among other things, the Doing Business report analyses regulatory environments, ease of business startups, infrastructure and other business climate measures.
Both the IMF and the World Bank have been embroiled in controversies over the past. In 2011, former French Finance Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned as head IMF after he was charged with sexual assault allegations, which were eventually dropped. In 2007, Paul Wolfowitz, a top Pentagon official in the Bush administration, resigned as head of the World Bank over his involvement in arranging a pay hike and promotion for his companion.