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The Verdict is In: Wolfowitz Found Guilty

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The World Bank’s special board of inquiry report on Paul Wolfowitz is in, and he was found guilty on charges of violating the bank’s ethics rules. Indeed, the board took the extraordinary step of publishing the complete report on the bank’s website this evening. Here is the core of the report:

1. General Counsel Excluded – Coll silenced

“From the time Ms. Riza presented her terms to Mr. Coll (head of human resources) until Mr. Wolfowitz instructed Mr. Coll to accept those terms, neither Mr. Wolfowitz nor Mr. Coll consulted with Bank counsel concerning whether the terms were in the Bank’s interest. Mr. Coll states that during his August 10 meeting with Mr. Wolfowitz and Ms (Robin) Cleveland, they told him he “could not talk to anyone” including the General Counsel about his conversation with Ms. Riza. Mr. Wolfowitz has not denied that the General Counsel was excluded from the negotiations. However, he explains that he did not consult with the General Counsel because he considered the General Counsel to be conflicted from providing advice to both the Ethics Committee and management.” (Note 47, page 21)

2. No Evidence Wolfowitz disagreed with Ethics Committee advice

“Mr. Wolfowitz states that he had disquiet with his understanding of the advice (of the Ethics Committee) but that he nevertheless followed it. The Ethics Procedures make clear that Mr. Wolfowitz could have taken the matter up with the Executive Directors directly if he did not believe the advice he had been given was correct. He (Wolfowitz) has repeatedly claimed that he protested vehemently to the Ethics Committee that he did not wish to be involved, but the Ad Hoc Group did not find any convincing documentary evidence of such a protest. ” (Note 84, page 31)

The report also notes copious evidence, contrary to Wolfowitz’s claims, that he appreciated that his conduct violated the bank’s ethics rules and he proceeded with it anyway, and it finds that he directed bank public relations personnel to make numerous false statements about his situation and the world of the inquiry. All of this conduct was also found to be a violation of the terms of his contract.

Financial Times is reporting that the board is now prepared first to censure Wolfowitz for his misconduct and then to dismiss him – if he refuses to submit his resignation. This is the first time in the history of the bank that a president has been found guilty of serious ethics violations.

Mr. Wolfowitz cannot be prosecuted under United States public corruption statutes because, as president of the World Bank, he enjoys full immunity for any criminal conduct.

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