Washington: Embattled World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz is clinging tightly to his post at the global development lender despite intense pressure over his leadership and alleged favoritism for his girlfriend.
In an email on 24 April to bank employees and seen by AFP, Wolfowitz assured that he was studying “major changes in the way my office and the senior management team work”.
The message followed a meeting Monday between Wolfowitz and the bank’s senior managers, some of whom had called for his resignation days earlier over the accusation that he had personally sought a favourable job and generous salary package for his companion, bank official Shaha Riza.
The revelation that Wolfowitz ordered a salary worth nearly $200,000 for Riza in 2005 left him open to accusations of hypocrisy as he steers a controversial campaign against corruption in the bank’s lending.
Despite documents that have demonstrated his intervention in Riza’s compensation, Wolfowitz has steadfastly refused to step down, and instead hired a top defense lawyer, Robert Bennett, to represent him as the bank reviews his actions.
Bennett is a former US federal prosecutor who acted for ex-president Bill Clinton in a sexual harassment case against him in 1998.
The White House has staunchly backed Wolfowitz as well, but more than 40 senior former World Bank officials called for his resignation in a letter to a newspaper Monday.
Some of the bank’s top leaders, representing its member states, have taken advantage of the current scandal to mount an assault on Wolfowitz’s policies, especially in the way the bank fights poverty.