Ethically, should Wolfowitz resign?

The FT has an update on the world bank Wolfowitz story today. To be resolved one way or another this week apparently. But then we thought that about the Boots takeover (see previous post).

Did Wolfowitz break the rules seriously enough? The UK press generally says yes, the Wall St Journal says no and that lefty development people want him out.

A top anti-corruption figure told me last week that there is no question, he broke the rules and must resign, or the Bank’s position (like the UK governments on corruption in light of the Saudi/BAE scandal) will become totally untenable and a laughing stock among other nations.

Personally I’d agree. If you put your neck on the anti-graft line so obviously (and no bad thing that he did, despite the tactics then used) then you have to take the rough with the smooth, as they say.

Toby Webb, Editor

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

    Maybe the issue isn’t as clear-cut as it would seem from most mainstream press accounts.

    The following is from an April 17 Los Angeles Times op-ed by Ruth Wedgwood, a professor of international law and diplomacy at Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies:

    “(T)he case reveals the bank’s executive board and its ethics committee as organs of haphazard judgment. In 2005, the ethics committee surprisingly denied Wolfowitz’s written request that he be allowed to recuse himself from all decisions touching on Riza’s status because of their relationship. Then it disqualified her from remaining at the bank yet insisted that she be compensated for this disruption to her career. Next, it insisted that Wolfowitz re-enter the chain of command to execute its advice concerning Riza. And now, board members apparently have criticized Wolfowitz for doing exactly what the ethics panel directed…

    “Riza was a veteran of the bank, working as a senior communications officer in the Middle East/North African public outreach program before Wolfowitz was picked as bank president in 2005. With more than 15 years’ experience in the field, able to speak Arabic, English and French, she was short-listed for a senior-level job. The bank’s ethics committee in July 2005 gave “informal” advice that Riza had to give up her eligibility for promotion and leave the bank (because of Wolfowitz’s nomination). It acknowledged that this step would disrupt Riza’s career for a substantial period. For a 52-year-old bank employee facing mandatory retirement at age 62, losing a promotion and a long period of service is not trivial. The ethics committee thus reasonably concluded that Riza should receive some compensation for her forced transfer.

    “According to the documents on the bank’s website, it was the ethics committee’s own idea — not Wolfowitz’s — to give Riza a promotion as she was being moved out for four years. She was transferred to the State Department to work on a grass-roots democracy project that has been praised by Secretary Condoleezza Rice. She was given the mid-range salary for her new level. This was a lot of money, but it was based on the bank’s existing pay scales.”

    If this wasn’t the Paul Wolfowitz associated with Iraq would this story even be a story? These events transpired in 2005 and were known to the ethics committee. Is ethics therefore relative in this case? If so, why should he resign — simply for the sake of falling on his sword?

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