World Bank Chief Apologizes for Arranging Job
Mr Wolfowitz has been on a campaign to target corruption
World Bank President Paul
WASHINGTON, April 12 — Paul D. Wolfowitz, the president of the World Bank, apologized today for his role in arranging a highly paid job at the State Department for a woman with whom he has a personal relationship.
“I made a mistake, for which I am sorry,” Mr. Wolfowitz said in a statement on the World Bank’s Web site. He said that in retrospect he should have “trusted my original instincts” and stayed out of the job negotiations involving the woman, Shaha Ali Riza.
The transfer of Ms. Riza from the World Bank to a higher-paying job at the State Department — although she remained on the World Bank payroll — has caused resentment among employees of the World Bank, and at an unfortunate time. The controversy threatens to overshadow the annual meeting of the World Bank and its sister organization, the International Monetary Fund, in Washington this weekend. The yearly event draws finance ministers from hundreds of countries.
Mr. Wolfowitz seemed to be throwing himself on the mercy of the World Bank board members, who are meeting today. “I will accept any remedies they propose,” he said in his statement. He had promised earlier to “cooperate fully” with the board’s review of the episode.
“I cannot speculate on what the board is going to decide,” Mr. Wolfowitz told The Associated Press.
But the World Bank’s staff association said today that Mr. Wolfowitz had “compromised the integrity and effectiveness” of the bank and “destroyed the staff’s trust in his leadership,” and so should resign, The A.P. said.
Mr. Wolfowitz, 63, has said that he arranged for Ms. Riza’s transfer because World Bank rules bar the institution’s employees from supervising anyone with whom they have a personal relationship, and that he consulted the bank’s executive board. But the transfer — and Ms. Riza’s salary, which the Government Accountability Project, an independent watchdog group, said is $193,500, about $10,000 more than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s, even without tax breaks enjoyed by bank officials — only fueled more resentment among bank employees.
Mr. Wolfowitz, who became the World Bank’s president in 2005, has also been unpopular among some bank employees because he was an architect of the Iraq war in his previous post as deputy to Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary.
“For those people who disagree with the things that they associate me with in my previous job, I’m not in my previous job,” Mr. Wolfowitz said in his statement today. “I’m not working for the U.S. government; I’m working for this institution and its 185 shareholders,” he said, alluding to the worldwide membership of nations.
The World Bank and the I.M.F. were created shortly after World War II to help countries ravaged by the conflict. In more recent years, the institutions have tried to assist newly independent and developing nations in Africa, Asia and other regions.