Melkert rejects bank scandal allegations

Former Dutch Labour party leader Ad Melkert has rejected any suggestions that the World Bank’s ethics committee which he chaired ‘was aware or should have been aware’ of the terms under which the bank president’s girlfriend got a new job.

Paul Wolfowitz is under pressure to resign over the scandal, in which he was influential in getting Shaha Riza seconded to a new job outside the bank for a considerable salary increase. The couple’s relationship broke World Bank conduct rules.
In his statement released yesterday, Melkert said his committee’s role was to advise Wolfowitz of the options but that it was up to the president to decide how to proceed. Once Wolfowitz decided to resolve the ‘potential conflict of interest’ by moving Riza outside the bank, the ethics committee considered the matter closed, Melkert said.
Herman Wijffels, former Christian Democrat MP and Melkert’s successor at the bank, says in today’s Financieele Dagblad that the ethics committee advised Wolfowitz that his original plan to avoid having business contact with his girlfriend did not go far enough and recommended outplacement.
But Melkert knew nothing of Wolfowitz’s personal plea that she be given a much higher than average pay rise, Wijffels, who has been investigating the affair for the bank, told the paper.

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