- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2007

12:58 p.m.

An attorney for World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said today the former U.S. defense official was looking forward to a hearing on his role in helping secure a promotion and pay raise for his girlfriend, who was on the bank’s staff.

The controversy has prompted calls for Mr. Wolfowitz’s resignation. The bank’s 24-member board is expected to make a decision in the case this week.

“We’re looking forward to a fair hearing and to show that Mr. Wolfowitz acted in complete good faith,” Mr. Wolfowitz’s attorney, Robert Bennett, said as he arrived outside the development bank’s downtown headquarters.

A special bank panel is investigating Mr. Wolfowitz’s handling of the 2005 promotion of bank employee Shaha Riza. It was scheduled to hear from Mr. Wolfowitz and Miss Riza later in the day. Mr. Bennett indicated he was hopeful Mr. Wolfowitz’s arguments would help him garner support; he said again today that Mr. Wolfowitz has no plans to step down.

“I hope the temperature is lowered here. Mr. Wolfowitz will not resign in the face of false allegations,” Mr. Bennett said.

Mr. Wolfowitz, an architect of the Iraq war in his preceding Pentagon job, will cite a Feb. 28, 2006, letter that his attorney characterizes as showing that the bank’s ethics committee had looked at the arrangement.

The panel’s chairman, Ad Melkert, said in the letter that an accusation relating to “a matter which had been previously considered by the committee did not contain new information warranting any further review.”

The letter didn’t specifically mention Mr. Wolfowitz or Miss Riza by name. However, Mr. Bennett said the letter is proof that Mr. Melkert was aware of Mr. Wolfowitz’s role in securing the compensation package.

The bank’s executive directors, however, have said the terms and conditions of the package had not been “commented on, reviewed or approved” by the ethics committee, Mr. Melkert or the bank’s board.

Miss Riza was working at the bank when Mr. Wolfowitz arrived in 2005. She was reassigned at the State Department to avoid a conflict of interest but remained on the bank’s payroll, eventually receiving $60,000 in pay raises to $193,590.

Mr. Melkert’s February 2006 letter informed Mr. Wolfowitz that the ethics committee had reviewed two e-mails from an anonymous whistle-blower charging ethical lapses by the World Bank’s president. One e-mail complained about the size of Miss Riza’s pay raise.

“Mr. Wolfowitz did not want to get involved, but they made him get involved” in Miss Riza’s promotion and pay package, Mr. Bennett said. “The ethics committee approved what he did,” and Miss Riza’s compensation package was “well within the parameters” of the World Bank’s salaries and benefits structure, he added.

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