African Development Bank agrees external probe of its president

African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina

The African Development Bank agreed to an external review of an investigation that found no evidence of wrongdoing by its president, Akinwumi Adesina.

The decision comes two weeks after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rejected the findings by the bank’s ethics committee and called for an independent probe of allegations that Adesina awarded contracts to friends and relatives. Several Western shareholders of the bank-backed Mnuchin’s call, while Nigeria and other African shareholders rallied to support Adesina.

“The independent review shall be conducted by a neutral, high-caliber individual with unquestionable experience, high international reputation and integrity,” the Abidjan, Ivory Coast-based bank said in a statement. The work should be completed within four weeks, it said.

Opening Day Of The World Economic Forum (WEF) 2017
Akinwumi Ayodeji AdesinaPhotographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg
The AfDB will also assess its whistleblower and complaint policies to ensure they are better handled in future. The accusations against Adesina, which he has denied, first surfaced in complaints by unidentified whistleblowers.

Read more: African Lender to Probe President Following U.S. Pressure

The external inquiry comes as the continent’s largest multilateral lender helps to source $100 billion needed to stabilize economies that have been hobbled by the coronavirus pandemic. For Adesina, 60, it threatens an unopposed bid for a second five-year term as head of the bank later this year.

The U.S. has a 6.5% stake in the AfDB, the largest shareholding after Nigeria, which held 9.1%, as of November. The 56-year-old institution allowed non-regional countries to join in 1982 and now has 54 shareholders from Africa and 27 from the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Members in October pledged to provide funding that will more than double the AfDB’s capital base to $208 billion.

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