Wolfowitz row nears conclusion

15-05-2007

Wolfowitz row nears conclusion
The fate of World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz is likely to be decided upon in the next 48 hours, the bank's executive directors have said.

Former US deputy defence secretary Mr Wolfowitz has been embroiled in a dispute concerning the transfer and subsequent pay rise of his partner when he first became president of the bank two years ago.

And in documents released late last night ahead of today's 17:00 Washington time (22:00 BST) decision by the board on whether to dismiss, reprimand or report a lack of confidence in their president, the directors confirm their view that Mr Wolfowitz violated the bank's ethics rules.

"Mr Wolfowitz's contract requiring that he adhere to the code of conduct for board officials and that he avoid any conflict of interest, real or apparent, were violated," the report said.

In 2005 Middle East expert Shaha Riza, Mr Wolfowitz's girlfriend, was transferred to the US state department to avoid a conflict of interest. However it later emerged that a subsequent pay rise meant Ms Riza's salary exceeded that of even secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.

"The salary increase Ms Riza received at Mr Wolfowitz's direction was in excess of the range established by Rule 6.01."

But in response, Mr Wolfowitz, who has been firmly backed by the Bush administration since the row broke out, says the board's conclusions are "unbalanced and flawed".

Later today the president will speak directly to the 24-member board in a bid to retain his job.

Last night's board of directors report added it founded Mr Wolfowitz's actions "troubling" from the man "who had been selected to head a global institution with the central mission of fighting poverty".

"The group finds the submission notable for absence of any acceptance by Mr Wolfowitz himself of responsibility or blame for the events that transpired," the executives added.


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