[OPE-L] Wolfowitz's world: easy easy money, chicks for free

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sun Apr 08 2007 - 09:04:03 EDT

POLITICS: Wolfowitz Accused of Nepotism at World Bank
Emad Mekay

WASHINGTON, Apr 5 (IPS) - A controversial raise for a World Bank employee
who has been romantically involved with the Bank's President Paul Wolfowitz
was not the work of the Bank's Ethics Committee, as originally alleged by
Wolfowitz's office, according to the watchdog group that leaked the

Members of the Ethics Committee of the Board, the relevant body that would
have approved the raise, which has triggered allegations of nepotism at the
Bank's highest levels, say that they knew nothing of the salary hike,
according to the Washington-based Government Accountability Project, a
whistleblower protection organisation. (...)

Payroll data obtained from the World Bank and made public Thursday by GAP
show that Riza, a communications officer in the Bank's Middle East Office,
who is currently working in an external assignment at the U.S. State
Department, received a 47,300 dollar, or 35.5 percent, raise to 180,000
dollars after Wolfowitz arrived.

This raise was followed last year by another 13,590 dollar raise, or about
7.5 percent, to a total salary of 193,590 dollars.

"If World Bank staff rules had been respected, she was not to receive
percentage increases greater than 12 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively.
Her current salary of 193,590 dollars is about seven thousand dollars more
than what [U.S.] Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice earns," GAP said in the
statement Thursday. (...)

(...) Shaha Riza, long-time companion of World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz
and fellow Bank staffer, did not receive Bank approval for outside
employment as a consultant for a major U.S. defense contractor during the
run-up to the invasion of Iraq. (...) Riza was a "subject matter expert" for
the Middle East during the Iraq War run-up at Science Applications
International Corporation (SAIC), a firm focused on defense capabilities and
intelligence gathering. At that time, Paul Wolfowitz was the Deputy
Secretary of Defense. Inside sources at the Bank have verified to GAP that
Riza never applied for nor received permission to provide these consultant
services to SAIC. This is a gross violation of World Bank staff rules, which
require Bank employees to clear extracurricular professional activities with
the Outside Interests Committee in order to prevent conflicts of interest.
Such undisclosed parallel employment, GAP sources say, would never have been
tolerated by the Bank and are grounds for dismissal. "Considering that Riza
was reportedly romantically involved with Wolfowitz at the time, that the
Iraq War was imminent, that SAIC was a defense contractor, and that the
World Bank had active projects in Iraq, multiple conflicts of interest
probably existed," said GAP International Program Director Bea Edwards.

FINANCE: Wolfowitz May Bring Bank Back to Iraq
Emad Mekay

WASHINGTON, Feb 22 (IPS) - World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz may appoint a
new resident director for Iraq soon, a move that sources inside the Bank say
could contradict the institution's policies on engagement in
conflict-stricken areas and put his role in the 2003 U.S. invasion back into
the limelight.

The move by Wolfowitz, the former number two official at the Pentagon and a
main architect of the U.S.-led war, likely means the Bank would release new
loans to the occupied Arab nation, despite the deteriorating security
situation and recent disclosures of massive corruption in reconstruction
efforts. (...)

Edwards of GAP also points to the lack of a functioning system in Iraq that
could guarantee that the Bank loans or projects will be dealt with in a
transparent manner.

"In fact, the Bank is prohibited from operating in a conflict like this,"
said Edwards.

"In the simplest financial terms, there is no functioning banking system,
the government does not control its territory and it cannot guarantee loan
repayment. Any emergency or social funding in Iraq should come from donors'
grants, not loans." (END/2007)

CORRUPTION: Bank's Graft Crusade Exaggerated, Critics Say
Emad Mekay

WASHINGTON, Feb 7 (IPS) - Publicising a self-styled crusade against
corruption, the World Bank says it is successfully stepping up its campaign
against graft, probing more than 400 cases over the last two years alone and
barring dozens of companies and individuals from future World Bank
contracts. But critics doubt the scope of the claims. (...)

GAP, for example, says the Bank exaggerates the effectiveness of the steps
that it has taken to fight corruption.

"For example, the firms debarred for corruption are typically small-scale,"
Edwards of GAP told IPS. "For the most part, they have been involved in
petty fraud having to do with minor kickbacks."

She said that GAP analysts are working with World Bank staff members who
made credible, documented disclosures involving major corporations and
corruption in Bank operations.

"When these Bank whistleblowers made their disclosures to INT, they were
(alternatively) harassed, demoted and dismissed and blacklisted. In short,
silence. One of our clients said that where corruption and the World Bank
are concerned, INT is 'part of the problem'," she added.

The Bank insists it is doing the best it can, not only externally, but
internally as well. (...)

Among other measures, the Bank has also kick-started the "Voluntary
Disclosure Programme", which encourages companies to admit wrongdoing in
exchange for diluted or no penalties.

Critics say that the VDP programme allows "confessors" confidentiality, in
turn allowing the Bank to cover up its own negligence or complicity, which
undermines the administration of justice in countries where it is a criminal
offence to bribe a foreign official.

"[The] Voluntary Disclosure Programme doesn't accomplish this goal and
indicates to me that the Bank is still suffering from the same conflict of
interest with the companies it awards contracts to," Adams said. "I don't
have confidence that the INT is catching the big fish." (END/2007)

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