African Development Bank whistleblowers demand independent probe

Agence France-Presse

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African Development Bank whistleblowers demand independent probe
Whistleblowers claim the internal probe into allegations against African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina 'was tainted by irregularities'

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – Whistleblowers who accused the African Development Bank (AfDB) president of breaching the bank’s code of ethics are calling for an independent investigation after he was cleared in an internal report, according to a document seen by Agence France-Presse on Tuesday, May 12.

The internal probe, which rejected multiple allegations against Akinwumi Adesina, “was tainted by irregularities and manipulations,” a group of anonymous “concerned staff members of the AfDB” wrote to bank governors.

“An independent investigation is urgently needed,” they wrote in the document dated May 9, adding that they believed the institution’s ethics committee did not carry out a serious investigation of the 60-year-old Adesina. 

The former Nigerian agriculture minister is seeking a second 5-year term to head Africa’s foremost development finance institution.

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

Adesina is currently the only candidate and has received the backing of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States. 

The anonymous group submitted a 15-page report to bank governors last month detailing embezzlement, preferential treatment for senior appointments, and the promotion of people suspected or convicted of fraud and corruption. 

The allegations were first reported on by the French daily Le Monde. 

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

The AfDB’s ethics committee cleared Adesina, saying the complaint “rested on no objective, solid facts.”

Adesina himself 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. –

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