The IMF has gotten tough on ethics over the last four years—well, ethics as they apply to the little guys. In a look at its ethics policy in the wake of Dominique Strauss-Kahn's arrest, the New York Times reports that the fund has tightened the internal methods it uses to detect any ethical violations its 2,400 employees might commit: There's a phone line that specifically fields complaints, details of which are published in an annual report, and there's an ethics adviser who has the power to follow up on allegations (which has resulted in at least one dismissal). But said adviser cannot investigate any executive board member—and that's where things get murky.
The board polices its own 24 executive directors, along with the managing director. While it has a five-person ethics committee, their work is confidential. And here's how the board can discipline a member: through a warning letter. “There are a lot of controls in place when it comes to the staff, but not for the leadership,” says ethics expert Katrina Campbell, whose 2007 study of the IMF's ethics policies (conducted for the fund’s Independent Evaluation Office) noted that the board’s code "reads, for the most part, as a set of recommendations, rather than rules." And the board’s code hasn't been touched since 2003.