World Bank president criticized despite regret
Favors for a friend land Paul Wolfowitz in hot water as calls for his resignation continue.
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published April 13, 2007
WASHINGTON - World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz acknowledged Thursday that he erred in helping a close female friend get transferred to a high-paying job, and said he was sorry.
His apology didn't ease concerns among the bank's staff association, which wants him to resign.
The growing controversy has overshadowed major development meetings this weekend and is raising fresh questions about whether Wolfowitz will stay on the job. The White House, however, expressed confidence in the embattled bank president.
At issue are the generous compensation and pay raises of a bank employee, Shaha Riza, who has dated Wolfowitz. She was given an assignment at the State Department in 2005, shortly after he became bank president.
"In hindsight I wish I had trusted my original instincts and kept myself out of the negotiations," Wolfowitz said. "I made a mistake, for which I am sorry."
The World Bank Group Staff Association is demanding that Wolfowitz step down.
"The president must acknowledge that his conduct has compromised the integrity and effectiveness of the World Bank Group and has destroyed the staff's trust in his leadership," the association said Thursday. "He must act honorably and resign."
The Government Accountability Project, a watchdog group, estimated Riza's salary at $193,590 as a result of the job transfer and pay raises. The group says she was paid by the World Bank and remains on the bank's payroll.
The job change was made, Wolfowitz said, to avoid a conflict of interest when he took his post at the World Bank, where Riza already worked.
World Bank rules bar employees from supervising anyone with whom they had a personal relationship.
[Last modified April 13, 2007, 01:26:43]
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