…Cleared of All Charges by Independent Panel An independent panel of experts, headed by former Irish President, Ms Mary Robinson, has cleared the embattled President of the African Bank of Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, of corruption allegations, giving him a clean bill and validating his stance of “innocence”. In the wake of the charges of
…Cleared of All Charges by Independent Panel
An independent panel of experts, headed by former Irish President, Ms Mary Robinson, has cleared the embattled President of the African Bank of Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, of corruption allegations, giving him a clean bill and validating his stance of “innocence”.
In the wake of the charges of impropriety, an unruffled Adesina had dismissed them as some smear campaign directed at undermining his integrity. “I maintain my innocence with regard to trumped up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn my honour and integrity, as well as the reputation of the African Development Bank,” he said.
A 16-page report earlier this year had claimed that under the leadership of Adesina, the first Nigerian to head the AfDB, the bank had been smothered by poor governance, impunity, personal enrichment and favouritism.
But the panel of three experts, led by Robinson alongside Gambia’s Chief Justice, Mr Hassan Jallow and the World Bank’s Integrity Vice President, Mr Leonard McCarthy, cleared Adesina, 60, a former Nigerian Agriculture Minister of all charges alleged by whistleblowers.
“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,” Monday’s report concluded.
Adesina, the sole candidate for the bank’s August’s presidential elections, had been in the eye of the storm since April over allegations of impropriety levelled against him by some whistleblowers working in the bank.
But the former Minister had always stated he was “innocent” of the charges.
In a statement, Adesina said, “In recent weeks and over the last few days especially, I have been overwhelmed by the tremendous support received from around the world. I have absolute confidence in the integrity of the Bank that I lead and its governance systems, rules and procedures.
“In spite of unprecedented attempts by some to tarnish my reputation and prejudice the Bank’s governance procedures, I maintain my innocence with regard to trumped up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn my honour and integrity, as well as the reputation of the African Development Bank.
“I sincerely appreciate the support of the bank’s shareholders.
“At this time, I remain confident that ultimately and as one collective, the Bank will emerge stronger than before and continue to support Africa’s development drive. I draw great inspiration from my heroes, Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan, whose lives have shown that through pain we grow. As Martin Luther King Jnr. once said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”.
“I am confident that fair, transparent, and just processes that respect the rules, procedures and governance systems of the Bank, and the rule of law, will ultimately prove that I have not violated the Code of Ethics of this extraordinary institution.,” he said reaffirming his innocence.
The independent panel headed by Robinson, who led Ireland from 1990 to 1997 before serving as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights until 2002, dismissed the 16 page whistleblower allegations against Adesina.
The bank’s Ethics’ Committee, which first investigated the allegations, gave him a clean bill that was accepted by the board of governors, but the United States rejected the report and demanded a fresh probe by an independent body.
The board subsequently authorised an independent review of the Ethics Committee report on Adesina, who has received the backing of Nigeria and other African countries ahead of his re-election next month.
A “Group of Concerned Staff Members of the AfDB” had claimed that Adesina, who holds a PhD from Purdue University, had used the bank’s resources for self-promotion and personal gain while also paying out huge but undeserved severance packages to staff who resigned mysteriously, and favouring his fellow Nigerians.
The whistleblowers had also accused Mr Adesina of major conflicts of interest in his dealings with current and former employees, unethical conduct and preferential treatment.
US Treasury Secretary, Mr Steve Mnuchin personally signed a letter to the board of governors rejecting an internal investigation that cleared Mr Adesina. Besides the core 54 African countries, the US is one of the 27 non-regional members of the AfDB and its second largest shareholder.
According to a BBC report, the original whistleblowers’ email was sent in January, 2020 to two executive directors of the bank, Yano Takuji (Japanese) and Steven Dowd (American), and the British director for its Integrity and Anti-Corruption Department, Mr Alan Bacarese.
In an April update circulated to a wider pool of senior managers, the whistleblowers said the Ethics Committee headed by Mr Takuji failed to examine their concerns.
The committee later carried out an investigation and declared that Mr Adesina was “totally exonerated of all allegations made against him” and recommended that the board of governors adopt its conclusions.
In early May, the board’s chair – Ivorian Planning Minister, Ms Nialé Kaba wrote to shareholders that the African finance ministers who supervise the bank’s management intended to clear Mr Adesina.
But the US was not impressed. “We fear that the wholesale dismissal of all allegations without appropriate investigation will tarnish the reputation of this institution as one that does not uphold high standards of ethics and governance,” Mr Mnuchin wrote back.
“Therefore, the United States cannot support dismissing the allegations at this stage,” he added.
Ms Kaba said in a statement that a decision had not been made about Mr Adesina and he remained in office.
“The bureau, which I chair, wishes to reassure the public that it is seized with the matter and it is treating it with the utmost seriousness that it deserves,” she said.
Adesina’s clean bill surely puts him in better stead to clinch the second term and steer the bank to lofty heights.