The High Level Panel set up by the Bureau of the Boards of Governors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) to review allegations of misconduct against its President, Akinwumi Adesina has agreed with earlier decision by Bank’s Ethics Committee and cleared him of any wrongdoing.
The Board announced this week that the Panel announced on July 1, 2020 comprising of Mrs. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland (Chair), Justice Hassan B. Jallow, Chief Justice of the Gambia (Member) and Mr. Leonard F. McCarthy, President, LFMcCarthy & Associates (Member), which the Board described as “individuals with unquestionable experience, high international reputation and professional integrity,” and given maximum four weeks to submit its report, did so on July 27, 2020.
According to another communique from the Board issued this week, the Panel agreed with the earlier decision reached by the Ethics Committee of the Board that dismissed the allegations of misconduct levelled against Dr. Adesina, the President of the Bank.
In the communique the Board said: “The Panel concurs with the Committee in its findings in respect of all the allegations against the President and finds that they were properly considered and dismissed by the Committee”.
Effectively the panel agreed with the earlier decision of the Board’s Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee had dismissed the allegations as unfounded.
A group of employees of the Bank describing themselves as “concerned staff members of the AfDB” had written anonymously to the Board of Governors and detailed “cases of alleged breach” of conduct by Adesina.
The group stated that it had initially followed established policies within the Bank to express its concerns, but in early March it “came to the conclusion that the Ethics Committee was unable or unwilling to proceed with their preliminary examination of the complaints.”
The French daily Le Monde first reported the allegations which include “various cases of alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct: unethical conduct, private gain, impediment to efficiency, preferential treatment, adversely affecting confidence in the integrity of the Bank, and involvement in political activity.”
The staff added, “It looks as if a conscious effort is done by some staff members close to the President to sabotage all attempts by the Ethics Committee to perform its duties.”
In the more than a dozen pages long letter dated sometime in April 2020, the aggrieved staff also complained of “preferential treatment for Nigeria and Nigerians.”
They pointed out that while Nigeria owned a little more than 9 per cent of the shares in the AfDB, Nigerians “made up roughly 25 per cent of the newly recruited managerial functions” under a “massive recruitment drive that was launched due to the restructuring of President Adesina between 2016 and 2018.”
Among the new managers, the staff allege is a brother-in-law of Adesina who is also a childhood friend.
In his response, Adesina said, “I am 100 per cent confident that due process and transparency, based on facts and evidence, will indicate that these are all nothing more than spurious and unfounded allegations.”
The staff also raised concerns about awards that Adesina received in 2017 and 2019 of $250,000 and $500,000 from groups in the United States and South Korea.
“It is not clear if he received these awards as the President of the AfDB or as a private citizen,” but “dozens of people, Bank staff, executive directors,” and others including family members “attended the award ceremonies at the Bank’s costs.”
The letter queried further: “If these awards were private, why did the Bank support associated costs? If they were awarded to the President of the Group of the Bank were the awards returned to the Bank?”
The Bank’s Ethics Committee however, says it has found no evidence to support the allegations against Adesina.
But two weeks after the Ethics Committee found no evidence to support the allegations, the US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin responded, rejecting plans by the Bank’s Board to end the investigation, and called for an independent probe into the allegations against Adesina.
The US is the second largest shareholder of the Bank after Nigeria. Following the demand by the US authorities for independent investigations of the matter, the AfDB Board set up a panel to review its earlier decision – which was to dismiss the allegations.
Adesina is due for re-election at the Bank’s next Annual Meetings in a contest he is standing unopposed, for another five-year term.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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