Wolfowitz to quit as head of the World Bank

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Paul Wolfowitz' Official Department of Defense Photo.

The Executive Directors of the World Bank have issued a statement to the effect that Paul Wolfowitz is to resign as President of the World Bank Group effective 30th June 2007, and that further meetings will take place tomorrow to deal with arrangements for the interim period.

Wolfowitz has faced a number of calls for his resignation in recent weeks after accusations that he had behaved improperly and overlooked a conflict of interest with regard to the pay rise given to his partner, Shaha Riza, an employee of the Bank at the time of his appointment as President, who was subsequently re-assigned to the US State Department.

In their statement, the Executive Directors indicate that having carefully considered the report of a board-member committee which had investigated Wolfowitz's actions, they accepted that all parties had acted ethically, in good faith, and in what were believed to be the best interests of the institution. However the conclusion had to be drawn that there is a need to review the governance framework of the World Bank Group and in particular procedural and other aspects of the Ethics Committee.

The Directors pay tribute to the service that Wolfowitz has given to the World Bank, citing a number of achievements, particularly a number of initiatives involving countries and relief programmes in Africa. They also added regret that the recent events had overshadowed his achievements at the Bank.

In a separate and lengthy statement, Wolfowitz outlined many of the achievements of the Bank during his time as President, and acknowledged the contribution of those working for the Bank in the delivery of its programmes and support for a wide range of organisations throughout the world. He considered however that his resignation was in the best interests of the Bank.

Wolfowitz had enjoyed considerable support from the US Administration, and particular endorsement from President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. However he had been less popular with other governments around the world, particularly in Europe.