US Lauds AfDB’s Decision on Independent Review of Report Absolving Adesina

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Undertaking an independent review is fully consistent with a presumption of innocence

The United States yesterday expressed satisfaction with the decision of the African Development Bank’s Governors to conduct an “independent review” of its Ethics Committee report on allegations levelled against its President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.

The AfDB’s Ethics’ Committee, which investigated the allegations, gave Adesina a clean bill that was accepted by its 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’s report on Adesina, who is due for re-election as the sole presidential candidate, having received the backing of Nigeria and other African countries.

But unsatisfied with the report, the US insisted that an independent probe should be carried out to validate or invalidate the committee’s findings.

The AfDB subsequently appointed a panel led by former Irish President, Mary Robinson, to conduct the review

The United States, in a statement on Thursday signed by its Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, praised the bank’s decision to appoint the Robinson-led panel to conduct the review.

Mnuchin said: “I welcome the African Development Bank Governors’ decision to conduct an independent review of the work of the Bank’s Ethics Committee and its appointment of a high-level panel led by former Irish President Mary Robinson to conduct the review.

“Undertaking an independent review is fully consistent with a presumption of innocence. International financial institutions must adhere to the highest standards of governance and transparency, and the decision to pursue an independent review demonstrates the strength of the African Development Bank.”

Adesina had been in the eye of the storm over allegations of impropriety leveled against him by some whistle blowers in the bank.Despite being given a clean bill of health by the bank’s Ethics’ Committee, some AfDB stakeholders, notably the United States Treasury Department, had rejected the decision and called for a fresh probe.

In a letter signed by Steven Mnuchin, its treasury secretary, the US government said it had “deep reservations about the integrity of the committee’s process”. However, several stakeholders, including 15 ex-presidents of African countries, have voiced their support for Adesina.