World Bank panel: Wolfowitz broke rules
A World Bank committee investigating President Paul D. Wolfowitz has nearly completed a report that it plans to give the institution’s full governing board, concluding that he breached ethics rules when he engineered a pay raise for his girlfriend, three senior bank officials said Friday.
On Friday evening the committee was debating whether to explicitly recommend that Wolfowitz resign, according to the sources, who spoke on condition they not be identified, citing an ongoing probe into leaks.
Wolfowitz is to appear before the committee with his attorney Monday morning and mount his defense, and the bank’s 24-member board of directors will convene that afternoon to discuss the report. The sources suggested that a vote by the board could come that day.
Through his attorney, Wolfowitz vowed to continue the fight to keep his job. “He will not resign under this cloud,” said his attorney, Robert S. Bennett, when told of the imminent completion of the committee’s report. “He’s not going to give in to these coercive tactics.”
Bennett excoriated the panel for reaching conclusions before giving Wolfowitz the chance to defend himself. “If this is true, this is really unconscionable, and it just reflects that he’s not having his day in court,” Bennett said.
Bennett said Wolfowitz planned to submit documents to the committee on Monday that make clear that the pay raise he arranged for his girlfriend, Shaha Ali Riza, had the full understanding and assent of the institution’s ethics committee. It was not clear whether the investigating committee would revise its report after Wolfowitz’s appearance.
The committee is composed of members of the bank’s governing board.
According to bank officials, the timing of the committee’s report and its conclusions have been choreographed for maximum impact in what has become a full-blown campaign to persuade Wolfowitz to go.
The White House has so far remained resolutely supportive of Wolfowitz, even as his staff has staged an open revolt aimed at persuading him to leave and as European officials have lobbied for his ouster.
Already unpopular because of his role as a chief architect of the Iraq war, Wolfowitz has antagonized both bank staff and European financial contributors with his management style.