Allegations of preferential treatment for World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz's girlfriend, who also works for the agency, have fueled a controversy involving questions of ethics and secrecy. Shaha Riza has been promoted and given significant pay raises that exceed the bank's limits.
When Wolfowitz took over the helm of the World Bank in 2005, he created a personnel problem. Riza, whom he had been dating for years, already worked there. World Bank rules say that employees who are romantically linked can't supervise one another. So, Riza got a new outside job at the U.S. State Department. She also got a promotion.
Even though Riza now works for a State Department-funded non-governmental organization, her salary is still being paid by the World Bank. Bank staffers were outraged by the move. The employees' association wrote a letter demanding an explanation.
The bank's board of directors said it will investigate. Wolfowitz, has issued a statement accepting responsibility for "the actions taken." But the furor has not subsided.
Critics point to what they view as an embarrassing irony: One of Wolfowitz's top priorities has been to root out corruption and investigate allegations of impropriety among bank staff.