(Washington, D.C.) – This afternoon, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) is calling attention to inaccuracies and misrepresentations in the documents World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and his legal team provided to the World Bank Ad Hoc Committee earlier today. Both of the documents released (Wolfowitz’ statement and his lawyers’ submission) are available on the front page of GAP’s Web site at www.whistleblower.org.
First, on page two of his statement, Wolfowitz defends his handling of Riza’s promotion and salary raises, stating:
The agreement reached with Ms. Riza was in line with other World Bank settlement agreements and was consistent with the goals that the Ethics Committee set out for treating her fairly in difficult and unprecedented circumstances.
Then on page four, Wolfowitz writes the following:
Moreover, the $180,000 annual salary that accompanied her in situ promotion to an H Level – the promotion the Ethics Committee said she should receive – was in line with salaries paid to Bank employees in H Level positions.
Throughout both documents, there are numerous references like these indicating that Riza’s raises were not irregular by referring to the salaries of other Bank staffers. This is misleading. While other Bank employees working at Riza’s level do receive salaries similar to hers, the entire issue before the Board is that Riza was not allowed to receive raises as high as she did, which are explicitly in excess of what Bank rules stipulate. Wolfowitz tries to shift the focus of his argument away from the $47,300 raise received (35.5%) – to $180,000 – followed by a $13,590 (7.5%) raise to $193,590. If World Bank staff rules had been respected, she was not to receive percentage increases greater than 12 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively. Moreover, these ‘comparable’ staff members manage other staff, receive raises based on performance evaluations, and are accountable for their time and attendance.
Secondly, throughout both documents, Wolfowitz explains the promotion he awarded Riza as part of her external assignment by saying she was “shortlisted” for a management level position in communications at the time she was transferred. This too is misleading. GAP has confirmed from two sources that Comnet, the authorizing body for the promotion, interviewed her only as a courtesy because she had been “acting” in the position. The year before Comnet had rejected Riza’s application for a promotion in the communications sector because she lacked the necessary qualifications.
Third, clear contradictions exist between a remark made by Wolfowitz and cited in his attorney’s submission, and other remarks made in Wolfowitz’ personal statement. On page six his attorney’s submission states that Wolfowitz informed Xavier Coll (Vice President for Human Resources) in an email that:
…because Ms. Riza is being compelled to leave the Bank Group and will not be able to go through regular reviews as the basis for future promotions, she is being forced into a situation with no precedent under Bank rules, practice or policy.
This characterization of the issue as an ‘unprecedented situation’ is repeated throughout Wolfowitz’s statement, too. On page two of his personal statement, Wolfowitz says:
I believe that both I and the Committee acted in good faith to try to resolve what we all recognized was an unprecedented and difficult situation.
When explaining the circumstances surrounding Riza’s move to the State Department, the situation is “unprecedented.” But when discussing her salary increases, the actual violations of World bank policy and the issue that concerns the Board, Wolfowitz himself writes, on page 4 of his statement:
I also understood – and documents reflect that the Ethics Committee was also advised of this – that in cases where an employee was being forced to accept job reassignment over her objection, management had the discretion to compensate the staffer appropriately for the disruption to her career either in the form of an up-front lump sum payment, or an ad-hoc salary increase.
When discussing the salary raises provided to Riza, the crux of the issue before the Board, there are suddenly previous cases of compensation. Wolfowitz and his legal team are citing unprecedented circumstances and precedent circumstances when it suits them in an attempt to cherry-pick information.
Lastly, on page two of his statement, Wolfowitz states that:
For the Directors now to declare my actions to be improper and to criticize me would be unjust and frankly hypocritical.
It’s interesting to look at actions of Wolfowitz over the past month and note his major acts of hypocrisy. First, on April 9, Wolfowitz sent out an email to staff suggesting that his actions involving Riza’s promotion were done on the Board’s recommendations. Three days later, he apologized for how he, himself, handled the promotion, as an April 12 Associated Press article stated that he “acknowledged Thursday that he erred in helping a close female friend get transferred to a high-paying job, and said he was sorry.”
In that same article, Wolfowitz stated:
‘I proposed to the board that they establish some mechanism to judge whether the agreement reached was a reasonable outcome,’ he said, referring to Riza’s transfer. ‘I will accept any remedies they propose.’
He then added:
“I cannot speculate on what the board is going to decide.”
The contrast between these statements made three weeks ago and others made today is dramatic. Earlier today, Wolfowitz stated, according to a Bloomberg article:
I will not resign in the face of a plainly bogus charge of conflict of interest.
GAP International Program Director Bea Edwards simply commented, “Paul Wolfowitz, through his actions and words, is himself a poster child for hypocrisy.”