The president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, tried to cover his tracks after approving a promotion and substantial pay rise for his girlfriend, it has emerged.
Documents released by the bank’s ethics committee show that Mr Wolfowitz, controversially appointed to the World Bank from the Pentagon, where he was a leading architect of the Iraq war, tried to limit access to employee salary information after the bank launched an inquiry into the affair.
If it can be shown that Mr Wolfowitz acted improperly by helping his lover, Shaha Rizi, to a pay rise and a high-earning post in the US State Department, then he is expected to pay with his own job. This month, the bank ordered a committee to advise on Mr Wolfowitz’s future, and also to look into appointments of staff to his private office. Today, he is due to meet members of the inquiry committee.
It now emerges that in a letter written in response to a “brief conversation” and dated 13 July 2006, the bank’s vice-president, Xavier Coll, told Mr Wolfowitz that it was “virtually impossible” to shut off access to individual salary details, although some staff had had their access “revoked”. The news will come as a further blow to the embattled bank chief, who has been accused of acting with “reckless disregard” of his duties and offering “outlandish compensation packages to the people closest to him”.
This month, 32 anti-corruption officials said in a letter that Mr Wolfowitz was a liability and called for “clear and decisive actions” to resolve the issue.