Multilateral Development Banks

World Bank jobbery

(May 15, 2007) More evidence the Wolfowitz accusers chose to ignore.

The World Bank board meets today to consider the fate of President Paul Wolfowitz, and the truth is that the verdict may already be in. The board will consider the report of an investigating committee dominated by the same European nations that have been orchestrating the media campaign to depose him.

As almost daily newspaper leaks have disclosed for weeks – in violation of bank rules – the committee concludes that Mr. Wolfowitz violated bank rules in awarding a promotion and salary increase for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza. We’ve previously reported on the World Bank documents that make it clear this was at worst a misunderstanding – if not a setup by bank officials who wanted his fingerprints on any raise for Ms. Riza. Mr. Wolfowitz had tried to recuse himself, only to be told he couldn’t do so and would have to be the one to give her the raise and new job.

But we’ve now seen two other documents that reveal the investigating committee’s clear bias against Mr. Wolfowitz. They concern its key witness, Xavier Coll, the bank’s vice president of human resources, who has joined those saying Mr. Wolfowitz dictated a raise he knew was excessive and then tried to cover it up. In his testimony, Mr. Coll claims that “there is no doubt that the President [Mr. Wolfowitz] knew or had been made aware of by me that this was outside the rules.” The investigating panel relies heavily on Mr. Coll’s claims to support its findings against Mr. Wolfowitz.

. . . Based on our fast reading late yesterday of the final investigating committee report, we could not find [certain] quotes from Mr. Coll’s memos. Yet [these quotes] clearly show that Mr. Coll thought at the time that Mr. Wolfowitz was trying his best to come to a fair conclusion that would not harm Ms. Riza, would protect the bank from any possible litigation, and would do well by bank rules.

All of this is further evidence that what Mr. Wolfowitz is facing here is a kangaroo court. The Europeans and bank staff thought they could get him to leave quietly if they smeared him and Ms. Riza enough in the press. But now that he has fought back to clear his name, the Europeans led by Dutch politician Herman Wijffels have decided to ignore evidence to justify their one-sided conclusions. They also largely ignore Ms. Riza’s own statements to the committee while condemning her for objecting to a process that all but ended her career at the bank.

Wall Street Journal Opinion, May 15, 2007

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