African Development Bank chief cleared of ethics abuses

Agence France-Presse
The African Development Bank's ethics committee finds that the complaint against Akinwumi Adesina 'rested on no objective, solid facts'

BANK CHIEF. African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina gives a press conference in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on September 13, 2019. File photo by Issouf Sanogo/AFP

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – The African Development Bank (AfDB) has cleared its president of accusations of multiple abuses of the bank’s code of ethics, according to a report seen by Agence France-Presse on Monday, May 11.

“After examining point by point all the allegations…the [ethics] committee concluded that the complaint rested on no objective, solid facts,” the report said.

“As a result, the committee rejected the 16 allegations contained in the complaint” against Akinwumi Adesina, who is seeking a second term at the head of the AfDB.

The election was set for late this month but was postponed to August because of the coronavirus pandemic

He appeared to be on track to be named to a second 5-year term as head of Africa’s foremost development finance institution, enjoying the support of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States, before being hit by the allegations.

A group of anonymous “concerned staff members of the AfDB” had submitted a 15-page report to bank governors detailing “cases of alleged breach” of conduct by Adesina.

The staff said they had initially followed established policies within the bank to voice their concerns.

Early in March however, they “came to the conclusion that the Ethics Committee was unable or unwilling to proceed with their preliminary examination of the complaint.”

Charismatic but controversial

Their allegations, first reported on by the French daily Le Monde, included “unethical conduct, private gain, impediment to efficiency, preferential treatment, adversely affecting confidence in the integrity of the Bank and involvement in political activity.”

In the letter submitted last month, bank staff also complained of “preferential treatment for Nigeria and Nigerians.”

Adesina, 60, had dismissed the allegations as “spurious and unfounded” and “blatantly false.”

The economic development and agriculture expert, who often sports a brightly colored bowtie, is charismatic and enjoys a positive international image.

The AfDB is one of the world’s 5 largest multilateral development banks. In October 2019, it raised $115 billion in fresh capital, an operation deemed a personal success for Adesina.

The bank has 80 state shareholders, 54 of which are African, with the rest shared between the Americas, Asia, and Europe. 

Adesina is the first Nigerian president of the AfDB, in which Nigeria is the top stakeholder with 9%.

The bank was shaken by a series of high-level departures soon after his arrival, with complaints of Adesina’s “authoritarian” leadership style. – Rappler.com