who will be next World Bank President What will they do


Wolfowitz's lawyer seeks to buy time. (Update). The Washington Post also carries interesting comments from the lawyer hired by Wolfowitz yesterday. The main message: slow down. The same point was made by the Bank president in a memo sent to staff this morning.

Robert Bennett (whose hire we announced yesterday) said the process should be extended to give Wolfowitz "an opportunity to present his side. . . . It would be grossly unfair to him and it would not speak well of the World Bank if they rush to judgment without giving us a reasonable time to put together an appropriate presentation." He neglected to say what he considers to be a reasonable time.

An old friend just pointed out the typical conflict of interest that lawyers have on the question of how long they work and wondered "has anyone thought to ask who’s paying Wolfie’s hideously expensive lawyer for 'several weeks' work? If it’s the Bank, it’s an abuse of public funds; if he’s getting help from the White House, it’s political interference; and if it’s coming from his salary, we’re paying him too much!" If you know the answer don't hesitate to get in touch (contact@worldbankpresident.org).

The Post reminded its readers that the Bank's board has not set a timetable for deliberations, although finance ministers from donor nations urged a speedy resolution, warning of low staff morale and damage to the institution's reputation. I'd also like to remind anyone who has forgotten that the Bank board's statement of 12 April did pledge to resolve the matter 'expeditiously'.

I've been told (26 April) that a senior Bank staff member, informed of the Bennett/Wolfowitz "we are not resigning" demand for more time to prepare to face the music at the Board next week said "why would he need to prepare? The truth is easy to remember."

And as for the staff morale point, Mr Wolfowitz circulated the following memo just a short while ago. Not sure that it will do the trick ... do you?

24 April memo from the World Bank president's office

The World Bank
Washington, D.C. 20433


10:01:49 AM

To: All Bank Group Staff


Message from the President
Yesterday, I briefly met with VPs and Actings to update them on the current situation and how to move forward. I am writing to inform all staff of my conversation with them. I understand the importance of coming to closure - in a timely manner - on the issue involving me, and would ask for your continued patience in allowing time for the Board to do its work. At the same time, we have an enormous agenda of work ahead of us over the coming months, including projected delivery of some 180 projects and a big corporate agenda which requires the full energy of each of you. You have all been working very hard and I assure you that the management team and our development partners are proud of your efforts in these difficult circumstances.

The Vice Presidents have been candid in their feedback to me on the challenges facing the Bank and I appreciate this. I also appreciate that they intend to maintain focus on our workprogram and continue to function as a group to support the effectiveness and functioning of the institution. Finally, I will be finding ways to consult them as a collective sounding board for finalizing major changes in the way my office and the senior management team work, in order to address the concerns that have emerged in my discussions over the past few days. I will keep you posted on these and other matters, while we wait for the Board's decision.

Paul Wolfowitz

Alex Wilks ~ April 24, 2007

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