The World Bank board meets today to consider the fate of President Paul Wolfowitz, and the truth is that the verdict may already be in. The board will consider the report of an investigating committee dominated by the same European nations that have been orchestrating the media campaign to depose him.
As almost daily newspaper leaks have disclosed for weeks — in violation of bank rules — the committee concludes that Mr. Wolfowitz violated bank rules in awarding a promotion and salary increase for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza. We’ve previously reported on the World Bank documents that make it clear this was at worst a misunderstanding — if not a setup by bank officials who wanted his fingerprints on any raise for Ms. Riza.
Mr. Wolfowitz had tried to recuse himself, only to be told he couldn’t do so and would have to be the one to give her the raise and new job But we’ve now seen two other documents that reveal the investigating committee’s clear bias against Mr. Wolfowitz. They concern its key witness, Xavier Coll, the bank’s vice president of human resources, who has joined those saying Mr. Wolfowitz dictated a raise he knew was excessive and then tried to cover it up. In his testimony, Mr. Coll claims that “there is no doubt that the President [Mr. Wolfowitz] knew or had been made aware of by me that this was outside the rules.” The investigating panel relies heavily on Mr. Coll’s claims to support its findings against Mr. Wolfowitz.
But to reach that conclusion, the committee had to ignore a pair of August 2005 memos in which Mr. Coll told a very different story. Mr. Coll dictated those memos for his own files and marked them “Strictly Confidential and Personal — For Xavier Coll’s eyes only unless authorized explicitly by Xavier.” They are a contemporaneous account of his negotiations with Ms. Riza and Mr. Wolfowitz.