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Abstract

The papers contained in this volume draw on background work done in preparation for a study of the governance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) of the IMF, and they seek to contribute to the ongoing dialogue on how best to strengthen the governance of this important global institution.1 Since the IEO study was released in May 2008, the task of strengthening the IMF’s governance, already pressing and long overdue, became a matter of urgent attention. The ongoing financial crisis that has precipitated the deepest global recession since the 1930s has raised questions about the Fund’s capacity to perform its key surveillance mandate under its current governance arrangements. There is widespread concern that the Fund (and other international organizations as well) appears to have missed the crisis as it was evolving and thus did not issue timely and effective warnings. This has intensified calls to restructure the international financial architecture. But even as world leaders move in this direction, they seem to agree overwhelmingly that the IMF should remain a central part of that architecture. At the same time, they emphasize that a more legitimate, accountable, and effective IMF must emerge from the crisis.

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Abstract

This study examines the IMF’s structures, policies, and practices at the Executive Board and Management level as they relate to managing conflicts of interest, abuses of power, and other ethics issues. It also reviews the corporate governance policies of comparable organizations, as well as industry best-practice guidelines, to compare and benchmark IMF practices and highlight issues for the Fund to address. It finds that the Fund’s governance system—structures, policies, and practices—is not well designed to identify actual and potential conflicts of interest and ethical problems of executive directors or the Managing Director. Thus the Fund should consider how to update its governance processes and procedures, both to ensure proper detection and addressing of ethical concerns, and to instill trust in the process for enforcing ethical conduct.