- The Washington Times - Monday, May 28, 2007

LONDON (AP) — Departing World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, in a radio interview broadcast yesterday, blamed an overheated atmosphere at the bank and in the press for forcing him to resign.

Mr. Wolfowitz, who has announced that he will step down June 30, denied suggestions that his decision to leave was influenced by an apparent lack of support from the bank’s employees.

“I think it tells us more about the media than about the bank, and I’ll leave it at that,” he told the British Broadcasting Corp. “People were reacting to a whole string of inaccurate statements, and by the time we got to anything approximating accuracy, the passions were around the bend.”

Mr. Wolfowitz said he was pleased the bank’s board accepted that he had acted ethically and in good faith in his handling of a generous compensation package for his girlfriend and bank employee Shaha Riza in 2005.

“I accept the fact that by the time we got around to that, emotions here were so overheated that I don’t think I could have accomplished what I wanted to accomplish for the people I really care about,” he said.

By tradition, the United States — the bank’s biggest financial contributor — names an American to run the institution.

Mr. Wolfowitz’s departure ends a two-year run at the development bank that was marked by controversy from the start, given his previous role as a major architect of the Iraq war when he served as the No. 2 official at the Pentagon.

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