The World Bank Group on Thursday said it ended publication of its “Doing Business” report on country investment climates after a probe of data irregularities cited “undue pressure” by top bank officials, including then-Chief Executive Kristalina Georgieva, to boost China’s ranking in 2017.
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.
The Wilmer Hale report cited “direct and indirect pressure” from senior staff in the office of then-World Bank President Jim Yong Kim to change the report’s methodology to boost China’s score, and said it likely occurred at his direction, according to a REUTERS report.
It also said that Georgieva, now the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and a key adviser pressured staff to “make specific changes to China’s data points” and boost its ranking at a time when the bank was seeking China’s support for a big capital increase.
China’s ranking in the “Doing Business 2018” report published in October 2017, rose seven places to 78th after the data methodology changes were made, compared with the initial draft report.
The Doing Business report of the World Bank assesses regulatory environments, ease of business startups, infrastructure and other business climate measures.
“Going forward, we will be working on a new approach to assessing the business and investment climate,” the World Bank said in a statement.