IMF Ethics Advisor - Terms of Reference

May 18, 2011


1.  These Terms of Reference set out the principal responsibilities of the Ethics Advisor. The Ethics Advisor contributes to the good governance of the Fund and assists the organization in maintaining high ethical standards of conduct and the reputation of the Fund and its employees for probity, integrity, and impartiality. The Ethics Advisor promotes awareness of ethics issues, provides training and education on ethics, and carries out impartial inquiries and investigations concerning alleged violations of the rules and regulations governing the conduct of Fund employees.1

Appointment and period of service

2.  The Ethics Advisor shall be appointed by the Managing Director2, after consultation with the Staff Association Committee. He or she shall not have had prior employment with the Fund and shall initially be appointed for a period of two or three years. Prior to the end of that period, the Managing Director, in consultation with the Staff Association Committee, shall decide whether to renew the Ethics Advisor’s appointment for a further and final period of three years (or two years if the initial appointment was for a period of three years). The Ethics Advisor’s appointment may be extended for a further period if necessary to complete and/or to hand over to his or her successor work in progress at the end of his or her term.

3.  Following the initial period referred to in Paragraph 2 above, the Ethics Advisor’s appointment may be terminated prior to the end of his or her appointment by the Managing Director only for cause.

Duties and responsibilities

4.  The Ethics Advisor’s responsibilities shall include (a) the provision of advice to management and the Human Resources Department (HRD) regarding the promotion of ethical standards within the Fund, (b) the provision of information, education and training for Fund employees, (c) the provision of advice and guidance to managers, staff members, contractual employees, and vendor personnel on questions pertaining to the rules on conduct, and (d) the conduct of preliminary inquiries and investigations into alleged misconduct on the part of Fund employees.[3] The Ethics Advisor should maintain a reasonable balance among these activities. In exercising his or her duties, the Ethics Advisor will be independent of any official, department, office, or other organizational entity of the Fund. In the performance of his or her duties, he or she will report directly to the Managing Director.4

5.  In performing his or her duties, the Ethics Advisor is expected to be prudent and judicious. The Ethics Advisor is to maintain strict confidentiality with respect to information known to him or her in fulfilling the duties of the office, except that he or she may disclose information to others on a strict "need to know" basis. In contacts with individuals, the Ethics Advisor shall explain the extent to which, in his or her judgment, it may prove necessary to divulge information provided by them to others.

6.  The Ethics Advisor shall coordinate the activities of his or her office with those of (i) the Office of Internal Audit and Inspection on matters involving financial impropriety or the misuse of Fund assets or property; (ii) the Technology and General Services Department, Security Services Division on matters involving the physical safety of Fund personnel or possible damage to Fund premises or property; (iii) the Compliance Officer on matters concerning financial certification and disclosure; and (iv) law enforcement authorities on matters involving the possible violation of criminal laws.

7.  The Ethics Advisor shall issue an annual report, to be made available to all Fund employees, specifying the number and general nature of matters brought to his or her attention and describing the outcome of his or her work over the prior twelve-month period. If, in the view of the Ethics Advisor, certain cases have revealed broad issues of ethical standards or conduct, the report may discuss the issues involved.

Education, Training, and advisory duties

8.  The Ethics Advisor shall provide guidance to HRD and the Managing Director to ensure that staff rules and regulations, procedures, and practices reinforce and promote the ethical standards applicable to Fund employees, and that the ethical standards pertaining to employment with the Fund are clearly understood. In the latter context, the Ethics Advisor shall assist in designing and promoting programs to inform and educate staff by preparing information materials and by organizing, delivering, and/or participating in workshops, training courses, and other similar activities.

9.  The Ethics Advisor shall be available to managers, staff members, contractual employees, and vendor personnel for consultation on questions pertaining to the Fund’s rules on conduct and ethical behavior. To ensure consistency with relevant rules and regulations, the Ethics Advisor should seek the views of the Director of HRD, General Counsel or other appropriate official in novel situations or when the interpretation or application of the rules and regulations are unclear before he or she responds to such inquiries.

10.   Employees are encouraged to seek advice from the Ethics Advisor on matters concerning the Fund’s Codes of Conduct, ethical standards and the Fund’s rules and regulations on conduct. Such advice does not, however, replace the need for employees to obtain approvals for certain external activities (including outside employment), financial investments or publications and public statements through the appropriate channels, as applicable. The identity of the employee may be kept confidential in such consultations.

11.  Employees can secure the confidential advice of the Ethics Advisor regarding prospective actions/activities; such advice provides a “safe harbor”, that is staff will not suffer adverse action if they act on the basis of advice given by the Ethics Advisor, provided that they accurately disclose all material facts and act in accordance with the advice given.

12.  Seeking advice from the Ethics Advisor on past or currently ongoing conduct would not provide such safe harbor, and staff should understand that the Ethics Advisor may be obligated to pursue the matter (through preliminary inquiry and/or investigation) if he or she has reason to believe that the matter constitutes misconduct. Staff members seeking confidential information or advice on ways of handling past/current matters that may constitute misconduct should rather consult the Ombudsperson, who can obtain the advice of the Ethics Advisor or others who are responsible for the matter (e.g., HRD on outside employment) on an anonymous and confidential basis.5

13.  The Ethics Advisor shall periodically apprise HRD and the Legal Department (LEG), and, when applicable, the Director of the External Relations Department, of the positions taken as to the application or interpretation of the rules without disclosing the identities of the individuals involved.

Investigative duties

14.  The Ethics Advisor may conduct preliminary inquiries and investigations of alleged misconduct by Fund employees, former employees, or other individual who participate in benefits plans maintained by the Fund (e.g., the Medical Benefits Plan (MBP) and Staff Retirement Plan (SRP)). The Ethics Advisor shall conduct preliminary inquiries and investigations only on those matters that are covered by the N-Rules, General Administrative Orders, other rules and regulations governing conduct and ethical behavior, and these Terms of Reference.6 Matters concerning managerial decisions or practices or an employee’s performance that do not constitute misconduct or violations of ethics standards are outside of the scope of the Ethics Advisor’s area of responsibilities.

15.  The conduct of preliminary inquiries and investigations by the Ethics Advisor are subject to the rules set out in GAO No. 33 (Conduct of Staff Members).

1 The term “Fund employees” in this context includes staff members and contractual employees but does not include personnel appointed to the Offices of Executive Directors.
2Any reference to the Managing Director here shall include any Deputy Managing Director so designated by the Managing Director for this purpose.
3 This may include misrepresentation or fraud made by former employees in relation to repatriation benefits, Medical Benefits Plan, etc. The Administration Committee of the Staff Retirement Plan may call upon the Ethics Advisor to conduct an investigation on its behalf.
4 The Ethics Advisor may also be requested by the Ethics Committee of the Executive Board to provide his or her views ex officio on any matter with which the Ethics Committee is dealing; such services shall not be governed by these Terms of Reference.
5 Consultations with the Ombudsperson do not themselves provide a safe harbor for staff because the Ombudsperson cannot speak for, authorize or clear any acts on behalf of the Fund; nor does informing the Ombudsperson of a matter constitute informing the Fund. It remains the responsibility of the staff member (whom the Ombudsperson may assist) to inform and/or to secure any required authorization or clearance from the appropriate Fund official.
6 In cases where the Ethics Advisor is investigating alleged misconduct by an individual who is not subject to the Fund’s staff rules and regulations (e.g., contractual or former employees), the Ethics Advisor shall investigate the alleged violation of the relevant rules governing the relationship of such individual with the Fund (e.g. letter of appointment of contractual employees, terms of the MBP or SRP for participants and beneficiaries of the Plan, etc.).