Washington: Embattled World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz will resign at the end of June, his leadership undermined by the generous compensation he arranged for his girlfriend.
His departure was announced late on 17 May 2007 by the World Bank board.
“The executive directors acknowledge Mr. Wolfowitz’s decision to resign as president of the World Bank group,” the board said in a statement, adding that it would immediately start the search for a successor.
Wolfowitz’s departure ends a two-year run at the development bank that was marked by controversy from the start, given his previous role as a major architect of the Iraq war when he served as the No. 2 official at the Pentagon.
As a compromise, the bank’s board accepted his explanation that he acted in good faith in arranging for his girlfriend’s promotion.
“He assured us that he acted ethically and in good faith in what he believed were the best interests of the institution and we accept that,” the board said in its announcement of Wolfowitz’s resignation.
His departure was all but forced, however, by the finding of a special bank panel that he violated conflict-of-interest rules in his handling of the 2005 pay package of bank employee Shaha Riza.
The board said it was clear that a number of people had erred in reviewing the pay package.
Wolfowitz, who had fought the pressure to resign for weeks, said in his own statement that he was pleased that the board “accepted my assurance that I acted ethically and in good faith in what I believed were the best interests of the institution, including protecting the rights of a valued staff member.”
Now, he said, it was in the best interest of the board that its mission “be carried forward under new leadership.”
The White House, which has to select Wolfowitz’s successor, regretted the circumstances that forced World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz to step down but said it would soon announce a new candidate to allow “an orderly transition.”