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Wolfowitz says misleading information circulating in controversy.

Wolfowitz says misleading information circulating in controversy.

Battling to hold on to his job, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said misleading information has been circulating over his involvement in a huge pay increase awarded to a close female friend.
Wolfowitz has been under fire since it emerged that he secured a $193,590 job for his companion, Shaha Riza, at the U.S. State Department soon after he joined the World Bank in 2005. Some critics say that this undermines the anti-corruption campaign Wolfowitz has waged since taking over the World Bank.
In an e-mail to bank staff Saturday night, some of whom have called for his resignation, Wolfowitz said he had remained largely silent as the bank's board of directors considered his future as head of the 185-nation lending organization.
"I feel, however, that this has left a vacuum, which has largely been filled by misleading information" and conceded the 109 pages of documents about the controversy released by the board are "a lot to wade through for significant facts so I would like to call your attention to a number of them."
He attached excerpts that referred to his offer, when he became president of the bank two years ago, to refrain from dealings with his companion, Riza, who then worked in the bank's Middle East department. But The Washington Post said he did not include his lawyer's subsequent clarification that the recusal offer did not include a ban on "professional contact."
Wolfowitz included a link to the package of documents, as did a posting on the bank's Web site Saturday.
He has been working behind the scenes at weekend meetings of finance ministers and central bankers to drum up support to stay in his post and presented reports to the bank's policy-setting Development Committee Sunday, which ends with a news conference.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson made no direct reference to Wolfowitz in his speech to the committee, but said the United States welcomed and supported an updated version of the bank's anti-corruption strategy developed under Wolfowitz's leadership. Since taking over, Wolfowitz has made anti-corruption efforts a priority, prompting concern from some of the board's European members that he was overemphasizing the issue.
"We are confident that the strategy will strengthen the bank's role in helping borrowing countries promote good governance and fight corruption and in playing a leadership role with global partners," he said.
Running his right hand through his hair, Wolfowitz entered the meeting room and received a pat on the back from Rodrigo de Rato, the head of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank's sister institution. He put his briefing papers down and, smiling, greeted members of the committee, headed by Mexico's Agustin Carstens.
The United States, Britain and France, whose governments have a major role in bank operations, said it was important to await the outcome of the board's investigation into Wolfowitz's actions.
But Britain said Saturday the controversy had damaged the World Bank. Development Minister Hilary Benn failed to give wholehearted backing to Wolfowitz.
"Having (made public) the facts the World Bank board has yet to complete its work," Benn said in a statement. "While this whole business has damaged the bank and should not have happened, we should respect the board's process. I'm sure these views will be shared by other governors who will also be giving their response."
He said the Wolfowitz controversy was distracting attention from the bank's agenda.
"This weekend ought to be about the bank's contribution to fighting poverty and I'm looking forward to discussing how we can increase aid, tackle climate change and get clean water to 1 billion human beings," said Benn.
Paulson called Wolfowitz "a very dedicated public servant" and said he also believed the review process by the board should be allowed to proceed.
However, Paulson said waiting for this process to be completed should not be read "as any lessening of support for Paul" by the United States. The White House said President George W. Bush has confidence in Wolfowitz, a former deputy defense secretary and one of the architects of Bush's Iraq war strategy.
A planned demonstration by bank employees calling for Wolfowitz to resign failed to materialize, but several dozen members of advocacy groups marched outside the bank headquarters calling for his ouster.
Some African officials attending the meetings expressed support, saying Wolfowitz has made the continent a greater priority at the bank.
"We have seen visionary leadership, steadfast progress under Mr. Wolfowitz," said Liberia's finance minister, Antoinette Sayeh. "We can only say that we look forward to that continuing."


Updated : 2021-10-28 17:14 GMT+08:00