At the International Monetary Fund, there is one set of ethics guidelines for the rank-and-file staff and another for its 24 elite executive directors.
Over the last four years, the fund has tightened internal systems for catching ethical misconduct among its 2,400 staff members, establishing a telephone hotline for complaints like harassment; publishing details of complaints in an annual report and empowering an ethics adviser to pursue allegations.
But the fund's board members remain above these controls. The ethics adviser, for example, cannot investigate them.
"There are a lot of controls in place when it comes to the staff, but not for the leadership," said Katrina Campbell, a compliance and ethics expert at Global Compliance.
The IMF's ethics policy has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks since the arrest of its managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn on charges of sexually assaulting a hotel housekeeper in New York. Officials of his position cannot be investigated by IMF's ethics committee, formed in 1998.
The fund said it could not disclose whether the committee had met since 2007, because its work is confidential.