Saturday, April 14, 2007

Wolfie: Going, going....gone?

When the already high-profile President of the World Bank on the one hand rails against corruption and then is himself caught in his own untoward conduct it is newsworthy, as the the widespread coverage in the media today shows.

Paul Wolfowitz, already tarnished by his considerable influence in getting the US into the Iraq War was not favorably received when appointed to the World Bank. It was clearly a political appointment of a "mate" by George Bush.

The Washington Post provides the "story" of the current and very public controversy swirling around Wolfowitz and whether he will survive in his present position.

"World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz publicly apologized on Thursday for the "mistake" of personally orchestrating a high-paying job and guaranteed promotions for a bank employee with whom he is romantically involved, as new details of his role in the arrangement emerged and staff members angrily demanded his resignation.

The bank's board said in a statement released Friday morning that it was examining "all relevant governance implications" of Wolfowitz's involvement in a $50,000 a year raise and career advancement plan established for his longtime companion, Shaha Riza.

Bank executive directors spent Thursday reviewing the matter, and said this morning that the governing board is "continuing to investigate the facts concerning a staff member closely associated with the President." They are expected to consult with finance ministers, arriving from around the world for the bank meeting, before reaching a conclusion.

The bank, which is charged with alleviating global poverty, also released documents today related to Riza's promotion and salary increase. The documents included a memo from Wolfowitz outlining pay and career plans for his companion -- but also expressing "deep unhappiness" that he had not been allowed, as requested, to recuse himself from discussions about Riza's future."

The New Yorker in its current issue presents an interesting background piece on the man who is Wolfowitz and the woman in his life who may well become his undoing:

"Wolfowitz has an abiding interest in the Islamic world. His father, Jacob, an eminent mathematician who taught at Columbia and Cornell, was a fervent Zionist, and Wolfowitz’s elder sister, Laura, lives in Israel. Wolfowitz’s critics sometimes portray him as an unquestioning defender of the Israeli government, and yet he has publicly expressed sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians, and some Arab reformers regard him as a friend. Since separating from his wife of more than thirty years, Clare Selgin Wolfowitz, in 2001, he has dated a secular Muslim woman in her fifties, Shaha Ali Riza. A British national from a Libyan family who grew up in Saudi Arabia, Riza is a longtime advocate of democracy in Arab countries."

No comments: