IMF board to meet in late January on Argentina data
* Argentina accused of flawed data
* Lagarde report could recommend further sanctions
WASHINGTON, Dec 17 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund board is expected to meet in late January to discuss Argentina's progress in improving the quality of its economic data, an IMF spokesman said on Monday.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde submitted a report to the board on Monday, detailing Argentina's response to Fund concerns about its growth and inflation data, which many private analysts deem misleading.
Lagarde's report has not been made public, and the Fund had no further comments about it, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said in a statement.
Lagarde could recommend that the IMF's board issue a "declaration of censure" against Argentina for not doing more to improve its data.
If the board agrees, it would be the next step in a gradual process of IMF sanctions that could lead to loss of voting rights and eventual expulsion from the Washington-based lender - something that has not happened since the former Czechoslovakia was thrown out in 1954.
But the board could also decide to give Argentina more time to comply with international standards in reporting its statistics.
The IMF requires that all its 188 members report accurate data which the Fund then uses in its routine economic monitoring.
Argentina has been accused since 2007 of under-reporting inflation and exaggerating economic growth and industrial output figures, partly for political gain and also to reduce payments on its inflation-indexed debt.
In September, the IMF board said it "regretted the lack of sufficient progress" in Argentina's data quality and gave the Latin American country three more months to improve. It also required that Lagarde submit a report to the board by Dec. 17, detailing Argentina's response to the concerns.
During a trip to South America last week, Lagarde declined to give details on the IMF's discussion of the data, but said she remained optimistic Argentina would work with the Fund.
The Argentine government has denied any data manipulation, though it has brokered wage increases for workers that are in line with private inflation estimates.
The country's official INDEC statistics institute reports inflation of about 10 percent a year, while independent economists say the figure is between 20 percent and 25 percent.
(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Eric Walsh)