A blazing row about governance at the IMF is clouding Rodrigo de Ratos departure as managing director. De Rato who suddenly announced his departure from the Fund in June, and leaves on October 31 has come under fire, on the executive board and from the IMF staff association, for his role in a controversial staffing decision. The dispute, detailed in internal Fund correspondence seen by Emerging Markets
, concerned the transfer of a young Spanish economist to a senior position in the Monetary and Capital Markets (MCM) department.
The economist, who came to the Fund in 2004 after three years in the Spanish civil service, will join the MCM department on November 1 as an adviser. He moves from a similar position in the managing directors office, on an existing fixed-term contract that expires in two years time. Staff were incensed that many senior economists with decades of experience were effectively passed over by de Rato. Anger was exacerbated by the fact that the MCM department just underwent a painful restructuring that led to the involuntary departure of several highly qualified and experienced B-level staff, a staff association email pointed out.
The executive board discussed the transfer on October 3. Abbas Mirakhor, dean of the board, wrote to other directors, arguing that the economists transfer could erode staff confidence in rules governing appointments. Staff morale, already at its lowest ebb seen in the past quarter century of my service at the IMF, would be further undermined, he warned. Mirakhors letter said he knew of no precedent for the economists treatment.
The board concluded that the Funds human resources policies and practices had been followed in the case but board members also urged that processes be strengthened and employment procedures be reviewed, de Rato said in an email to all Fund staff. The IMF Staff Association Committee responded in its own circular email, saying it wished more thought had been given to perception and inclusiveness.
The Committee added pointedly: following all the rules is sometimes not enough. The transfer process was perceived by many as skirting a rules-based system and exposing the Fund to reputational risk. Bernhard Fritz-Krockow, staff association chairman, told Emerging Markets
it was unprecedented for the committee to comment on an individual case but there had been a failure of communication, and morale was affected. Fritz-Krockow emphasised that staff had no personal quarrel with the individual who had been transferred.
An IMF spokesman declined to comment on staff morale. He said the economist had been transferred on his existing contract, at his existing grade and salary. There had been initial confusion and ambiguity about the transfer, which had been addressed in de Ratos email.