Wolfowitz fighting off calls for his resignation
The Independent
By Andrew Buncombe
April 13, 2007

Paul Wolfowitz, fighting off calls for his resignation as president of the World Bank, has apologised for helping his girlfriend get transferred to a high-paying job outside the institution.

"With hindsight I wish I had trusted my original instincts and kept myself out of the negotiations," he said yesterday. "I made a mistake, for which I am sorry."

Mr Wolfowitz, a former US deputy Defence Secretary and one of the leading architects of the invasion of Iraq, helped his girlfriend of five years, Shaha Riza, get transferred to a high-paying job at the State Department. His involvement brought accusations of favouritism and calls for him to stand down.

The World Bank Group Staff Association said in a statement: "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. He must act honourably and resign."

Mr Wolfowitz, selected as World Bank president by the Bush administration two years ago, has been a controversial appointment. At the time he took over, a poll suggested 90 per cent of employees were opposed to him taking the job.

Mr Wolfowitz said that after a meeting with the bank's board he had agreed to establish a panel to decide whether his behaviour was inappropriate. "I proposed to the board that they establish some mechanism to judge whether the agreement reached was a reasonable outcome," he said. "I will accept any remedies they propose."

Ms Riza had been working as a communications adviser in the bank's Middle East Department before being detailed to a job at the State Department. The bank's rules prohibit employees from supervising anyone with whom they had a personal relationship.

"I took the issue to the ethics committee and... the committee's advice was to promote and relocate Ms Riza," said Mr Wolfowitz. "I made a good-faith effort to implement my understanding of that advice. And it was done to take responsibility for settling an issue that I believe had potential to harm the institution."

Original Text