Monday Shaha Riza and Paul Wolfowitz made their clearest most detailed and powerful statements to the World Bank. I was fortunate enough to be able to obtain in pdf format copies of their statements to share with American Thinker readers. Any errors in grammar or in transcription from the originals are my fault alone.
SHAHA RIZA STATEMENT
BOARD OF EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS, AD HOC COMMITTEE
I come before you today with my counsel, Victoria Toensing, at your request to assist you and the World Bank in resolving a problem that is not of my making. Let me summarize quickly what I consider to be the key facts of this difficult and painful situation, which has grown out of all proportion to the merits of the circumstance, and has now done harm to the Bank as well as to me.
1. My professional status at the Bank predates the arrival of the new President. I began work in the Bank in 1997.
2. There is no Bank regulation or staff rule that required me to leave the Bank in order to resolve this situation.
3. I was not given a choice to stay and, against my personal preference and professional interests, I agreed to accept an external assignment in 2005 upon the insistence of the Ethics Committee.
4. Against Bank rules and the Agreement I signed with the Bank, the details of the assignment and my personnel file have been leaked to the press and staff. As you well know my salary and grade level are quite common for World Bank staff that have years of experience, background and education similar to mine.
5. The cumulative effect of the decision made in 2005 and the recent media circus over the issue have done significant harm to my career, my personal well-being, and my prospects to continue the work I love and where my expertise resides.
Let me start with some personal reflections and then address each of these issues.
Over the weekend I met a wonderful American woman who told me I should fight back for "us" WOMEN. It never occurred to me as an Arab and Moslem woman that one day
I would be asked by an American woman to fight on her behalf. I take her
plea as a tribute to all Arab and Moslem women who have fought and are fighting for their rights.
The irony of my working to ensure women's participation and rights through the work of the World Bank and to be then stripped of my own rights by this same institution seems to have escaped most journalists, commentators and women's rights activists.
I have been told by my many friends at the World Bank and outside the Bank that I should speak out about my professional accomplishments to counter the one-dimensional and insulting portrayal in the media, not just in my defense but for the sake of all professional women--including women at the World Bank. It is diffcult for me to do so because I have always tried to focus on my work and not on publicity and I simply do not know how to blow my own trumpet.
However, in deference to the advice I have received from so many women I respect, I will quote the testimonies of my former managers in the World Bank in their evaluation of my performance.
My status at the Bank
As the gender coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa region (MNA) in the World Bank from 1998 to 2001, I was described as follows: "Shaha brought an unprecedented level of energy, enthusiasm, commitment and professionalism to this work.. ..[and] an in depth understanding of issues and situations in the region that has enabled her to guide our approach to clients and made her a real asset to the region's work." (2002) This is indeed praise from Ngozi N. Okonjo-Iweala, a woman I admire and respect for her accomplishments in the World Bank who went on to become Finance Minister of her country, Nigeria.
In 2003, after I had been appointed the Acting Manager for External Communications, my supervisor wrote: "Her leadership on gender issues in her previous job in MNA has paid handsome dividends as MNA was way above the Bank average in mainstreaming gender issues in our work." He continued: "What Shaha has done for gender (sensitization, practical solutions and effective outreach) she is well on her way to accopmplish for outreach and external communications. She is clearly operating at level GH and I strongly recommend that she be promoted to that level as lead Communications Specialist." Jean-Louis Sarbib, Vice President for MNA, then goes on to justify his reasons for my promotion.
Despite his testimony, I never got the grade level promotion either as an in situ
promotion, which accounts for 80% of promotions to grade H in the World Bank. Nor was the position opened for a competitive process, as I had requested from two consecutive MNA Vice Presidents. I can only attribute this to discrimination - not because I am a woman, but because I am a Moslem Arab woman who dares to question the status quo both in the work of the institution and within the institution itself. The open hostility against me by at least one Member of the Board of Directors who the former US Executive Director, Robert Holland, referred to in his Wall Street Journal Op. Ed. of April 20, was well known on the Board and by Bank staff.
Request that I leave the Bank.
It was a shock to me, when after the nomination of the new President, a senior member of management, in the name of three Vice Presidents, strongly suggested that I leave the Bank. I felt under attack by a powerful group that had no right to make assumptions or come to this conclusion given there was no Bank rule requiring my exit.
When after eight years in the service of the World Bank, I was told that the Board's Ethics Committee had resolved that I should leave-- through no fault of mine, but because of an alleged conflict of interest, it was not just a blow to my career and professional trajectory but also a blow to my faith in the ability of the institution to protect its staff, and to its claim over the past ten years, to pay more attention to gender and diversity.
I could not understand at the time or now why I was being singled out for this treatment when the then-Managing Director Shengman Zhang' s spouse, Lingzhi Xu, was working at the Bank and before her Maritta Koch-Weser, Caio Koch-Weser's spouse, when he was a Managing Director. Neither spouse was asked to leave the institution. It is very important to note than in all the years that I had worked in the World Bank I had not directly or indirectly reported to the previous President and my professional interaction was limited to a handful of times. Thus, I was surprised I was being asked to leave because under Staff Rule 4.01,Paragraph 5.02, the requirement is that neither peron may "supervisethe other, directly or indirectly, and their duties [should not be] likely to bring them into routine professional contact." In this regard, recusal from all my personnel decisions, as requested by the President, should have sufficed to resolve any alleged "conflict" as recusal went further than at least one of the situations described above.
Leaks and recent exposure
As this artifically created crisis swirled around me, I have continued to work hard on what I have spent the last 20 years advocating: reforms, women's rights and citizen's participation in the Middle East and North Africa. Two years ago, my life and career were torn asunder. In the past month I have suffered anguish that I cannot fully describe at this proceeding because it is so painful . I have been made to appear to have no qualifications for my position when, in fact, I am clearly well qualified. I am sad to say leaks and off-the-record statements have encouraged hurtful and inaccurate media.
Whatever happened to my Confidentiality Agreement with the Bank? Why were my rights as a World Bank staff member violated -- and who allowed them to be violated?
And so I come back to you, the ad hoc group, to ask you and other Members of the Board about what you plan to do about the breach of the Agreement signed with me --and about the disclosure of my personnel file in violation of Staff Rule 2.01 "Confidentiality of Personnel Information." As you know, I am a staff member of this institution and I have rights that this institution has not protected. Yet to date I have been offered no protection -- which would be offered any staff member -- against the leaking of documents that are, according to the formal policy of the Bank, part of confidential personnel matters.
Damage to Career
In normal circumstances I might not have minded being assigned a year or two to another agency. That type of assignment is not new to this institution. But I did not want to leave the Bank for five or possibly ten years with no guarantee of whether, or how, or at what level I could return. I was being banished fiom the Bank without regard to the quality of my work performance or my commitment to the mission of the Bank. To review a few of my concerns; * I was 51 years old and being asked to remove myself from a career path to an employment limbo for five, if not ten years. The rest of my professional career in the Bank was being adversely affected. *I would be out of the normal World Bank structure, removed fiom peer and professional contacts that lead to new assignments.
*I would not have the ability to make lateral moves or seek other assignments to take me to the next grade. Confronted with the prospect of being banished from the World Bank for at least five years, I fought for my rights over several meetings. I negotiated directly with Mr. Xavier Coll, Human Resource Vice President. I continue to believe that I should not have been asked to leave and that I was unjustly treated for reasons that I had no control over and still do not understand. I still question the role and motives of the Ethics Committee in its decision to ask me to leave. I was not, and I am not, satisfied with the arrangement.
Nevertheless, despite my unhappiness and justified anger, I tried my best to accommodate the Ethics Committee in order to avoid a protracted dispute that would distract the Board, and management and staff from their important work.
Let me be very clear about my legal position in 2005. I was ready to pursue legal remedies. I would have preferred to fight the unfair situation. I only acquiesced to signing the Agreement so as not to cause turmoil at the Bank.
Equally important, I still question why this furor about the arrangement, which was made to remove me from the Bank, has erupted now. It is clear from the now public documents that it was the Chairman of the Board's Ethics Committee, Mr. Ad Melkert, who advised my placement outside the Bank. I did not want to leave. Mr. Melkert stated in writing that I should be "relocated to a position" outside the Bank, and that "the potential disruption of the staff member's career prospect will be recognized by an in situ promotion on the basis of her qualifying record as confirmed by her shortlisting for the current job process and is consistent with the practice of the Bank."
It is clear that the Ethics Committee had available any materials that they wished to review in regard to my placement outside. Indeed, the Chairman of the Ethics Committee stated in his letter to the President dated October 24,2005, that "the outcome is consistent with the [Ethics] Committee's findings and advice.. .and the Committee concurs with your view that this matter can be treated as closed." This letter makes it obvious that the Ethics Committee must have looked at the Agreement and considered it satisfactory. If it did not, it was negligent in its duties.
By February 2006, all Board Members had to be fully aware of the arrangement due to the e-mail from "John Smith," which specifically questioned my salary. The response of the Ethics Committee to this e-mail was that the allegations "did not appear appropriate for further consideration by the Committee." The question therefore remains: why was this issue resurrected in recent weeks?
Moreover, during my negotiations with Mr. Coll, neither he nor anyone else ever suggested to me that my compensation package might violate Bank policy in any way. In his letter to me on September 1,2005, Mr. Coll stated that the "perceived conflict is not of your making," adding: "There is no precedent of this kind and no personnel policy that clearly applies to resolve it."
It is certainly the case that World Bank salary rates are significantly higher than the pay of national civil servants, at least in North America. It is up to shareholders to review the pay scale of the World Bank job classifications. But I should not be singled out for isolated finger-pointing when my salary level is within the same range as staff in my grade level who were not forced to leave their jobs.
I still hope that the Bank Board and Management will have the courage to admit that actions and decisions concerning the many diverse relationships in this institution have been addressed arbitrarily and without clear guidance. The careers of many spouses, particularly those appointed to country offices, are disrupted by ad hoc or arbitrary implementation of staff rules. I hope that this unfortunate episode will be used constructively to address these very pertinent issues. be made part of the record.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to state my case. I request my statement be made part of the record.
STATEMENT OF PAUL WOLFOWITZ
TO THE AD HOC COMMITTEE
I appreciate the opportunity to meet with you today. With me are my attorneys Bob Bennett and Amy Sabrin from the international law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
As you know, I was not provided the materials which I asked for in my letter to Mr. Wijffels of April 25fh. So I am at somewhat of a disadvantage. But I do have an opening statement concerning the conflict of interest issue, and then I will answer any questions you have.
When I came to the World Bank, I tried in good faith to resolve the potential conflict of interest caused by my pre-existing, personal relationship with Shaha Riza:
0 I disclosed my relationship with Ms. Riza.
0 I proposed that I would recuse myself from all personnel matters concerning her.
0 The issue was submitted to the Ethics Committee.
The Committee decided that recusal was insufficient.
0 The Committee decided that Ms. Riza should be relocated outside the Bank, over her objections.
0 The Committee also said she should receive a promotion that she was due, before she was relocated, and also that the terms of her forced departure should recognize the damage this would do to her "career perspectives."
0 The Committee members did not want to implement this plan themselves, however, because they said they could not (‘interact directly with staff member situations."
0 They also told me - over my strong and repeated objections - that I would have to be the one to work with Human Resources to get it done.
0 At the time, I understood the Committee was the final arbiter of ethics questions, so I followed their advice, even though I questioned it.
0 The agreement reached with Ms. Riza was in line with other World Bank settlement agreements and was consistent with the goals that the Ethics Committee set out for treating her fairly in difficult and unprecedented circumstances.
0 The Committee reviewed the resolution of this matter on two occasions and determined that it was "consistent with the Committee's findings and advice" and that the conflict of interest had been "dealt with appropriately."
I find it inconceivable that the Ethics Committee did not know the details of the arrangements with Ms. Riza. The information certainly was available to them and I assume they were not negligent in their duties. The evidence, moreover, certainly suggests that they did know:
o The Committee itself said Ms. Riza should receive a promotion - which necessarily includes a salary increase.
o It was the Committee itself that said the disruption this caused to her career should be recognized - in other words, that she should receive some compensation for having her career derailed.
o I did not seek to hide any of the details about how we implemented their advice. I assumed the Committee had access to any information it wanted about it.
o Most significantly, more than a year ago, the Committee received an email expressly detailing her salary increase. After reviewing the matter, Committee Chair Ad Melkert notified me in writing that they had conducted "a careful review" and that they had decided that the allegation "did not contain new information warranting any further review by the Committee."
I believe that both I and the Committee acted in good faith to try to resolve what we all recognized was an unprecedented and difficult situation. For the Directors now to declare my actions to be improper and to criticize me would be unjust and frankly hypocritical. Such a change of course would not survive public scrutiny.
With that overview, let me provide some of the details.
As I said, at the outset, I disclosed my pre-existing relationship with Ms. Riza. In order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, I proposed that I be recused from any and all personnel matters involving her. Prior to my joining the Bank, there were some exchanges between my then-counsel and the Bank's General Counsel concerning the scope of the proposed recusal. By agreement, the matter was referred to the Ethics Committee, which is designated in the Bank's Code of Conduct as the mechanism for resolving conflict of interest issues. The matter remained unresolved at the time I signed my contract, but I understood the Committee was working on the matter and I intended to follow whatever advice the Committee rendered.
After consulting with counsel and other experts within the Bank, the Ethics Committee advised me as follows:
1) Ms. Riza - and I quote from documents prepared by the Committee - "will withdraw from the current selection procedure for job promotion within the MENA department" and instead, "the staff member's career prospect will be recognized by an in situ promotion on the basis of her qualifying record as confirmed by her shortlisting for the current job process;"
2) The staff member "will be relocated to a position beyond (potential) supervising influence by the President;" and 3) The goal was "to have a procedure in place and an outcome reached that would duly recognize the record and career perspectives of the staff member."
Significantly, the Ethics Committee, through its chairman, told me that I, and not the ommittee, must work with the Vice President of Human Resources to implement the ommittee's advice, because the Committee "cannot interact directly wifh staff member stuations. "
In view of the appearance of conflict this would create, I strongly objected to being involved. But the Committee Chairman reconfirmed in writing that the Vice President of Human Resources, Xavier Coll, should act on my instructions in this matter. He also told me to get back to him by the end of the week.
Therefore, consistent with the Committee's written and oral guidance, I told Mr. Coll to meet with Ms. Riza to discuss whether she would agree to out-placement, the terms of the promotion the Committee said she would receive, and other terms and conditions. Mr. Coll reported back to me on Ms. Riza's negotiating positions. I understand that the initial meeting did not go well and that she subsequently insisted on having a lawyer present. Mr. Coll then asked to receive instructions in writing as to the scope of his authority to conclude the negotiations, and, consistent with the Ethics Committee's wishes that I instruct him, I gave such written instructions.
Generally, Mr. Coll was instructed to accept Ms. Riza's offer to take an external placement to the U.S. Department of State, and to offer her a promotion and other compensation that would recognize the lost opportunities and the disruption to her career occasioned by her forced departure. The details were not "dictated" by me, but flowed from the back-and-forth negotiating process between Mr. Coll and Ms. Riza, who had her own counsel in the matter.
I want to stress that at all times, the Ethics Committee, Mr. Coll and I were acting in good faith to try to resolve a situation that was unprecedented. As Mr. Coll noted in handwritten edits that he made to the instructions before they were finalized, there was "no precedent for this kind of situation and no policy that would clearly apply to resolve it. "
At the time, I was new to the Bank. I was just learning its culture and policies. I relied on the guidance provided by the Ethics Committee and Mr. Coll. There were no clear policies that applied because the situation we were addressing was not routine. For example, I understood that Bank employees who voluntarily took assignments at member country institutions outside the Bank could do so for only two to four years while remaining on the Bank's payroll. Because the Ethics Committee had advised, however, that Ms. Riza could and should be externally placed involuntarily for so long as I remained President, the term of her external placement would have to be longer than was routine.
Moreover, the $180,000 annual salary that accompanied her in situ promotion to an H Level - the promotion the Ethics Committee said she should receive - was in line with salaries paid to Bank employees in H Level positions. At the time, indeed, I was told the salary she requested was in the "mid-point" range for H Level employees. This seemed reasonable to me. I have since reviewed bank data that shows that there are more than a thousand staffers who hold H Level positions, and that the pay range for H level positions is fiom $132,000 to $232,000 a year. Many World Bank employees are, comparatively speaking, generously paid, and hundreds of them earn more than the U.S. Secretary of State.
I also understood - and documents reflect that the Ethics Committee was also advised of this -that in cases where an employee was being forced to accept job reassignment over her objection, management had the discretion to compensate the staffer appropriately for the disruption to her career either in the form of an up-front lump sum payment, or through an ad hoc salary increase. In this case, as the Ethics Committee recognized, just when Ms. Riza had been short-listed for promotion, she was forced to withdraw and take external placement, over her objection, for five to ten years. As a practical matter, this effectively ended any career advancement she could hope for at the Bank. Mr. Coll proposed giving her a lump sum payment as compensation for this damage to her career prospects, and I authorized him to pursue such an agreement. But Ms. Riza refirsed and would settle only for fbture promotions. Therefore, in order to get the deal done, and done within the very short deadline I had been given, my written instructions ultimately gave Mr. Coll the authority to offer her a choice between her proposal and lump sum payments.
I should also add that Ms. Riza did not get everything she wanted in these negotiations. I rejected her proposal to receive future promotions automatically, and insisted that she be subject to objective evaluations of her work by an independent committee before she could receive such promotions. Such a mechanism was in fact built in to her agreement. I also rejected her proposal that she would be able to extend her detail unilaterally.
On August 12,2005, I informed the Chairman of the Ethics Committee, Ad Melkert, that Ms. Riza had agreed to be detailed outside the Bank. I also advised him that I considered the potential conflict of interest to be closed. Steps were taken to finalize the details of Ms. Riza's new terms and conditions and to document the agreement that was reached with her with respect to compensation. At the time, the Ethics Committee surely knew that Ms. Riza received a promotion, which necessarily entailed a salary increase. After all, it was the Committee that advised in the first place that this should occur. I do not know whether the Ethics Committee was aware of the other details of the compensation arrangements at the time, but certainly they had access to that information if they wanted it. Mr. Coll and Ms. Riza signed the agreement on September 1 , 2005. Seven weeks later, on October 24,2005, Mr. Melkert sent written confirmation that "the outcome was consistent with the Committee's findings and advice," and that the Committee concurred that the matter was closed. Handwritten notes indicate that Mr. Melkert orally briefed the Executive Directos of the Bank about this matter the following day. An Ethics Committee document prepared about this time stated that the Ethics Committee "is pleased to confirm to the Executive Directors that the conflict of interest has been dealt with appropriately."
Significantly, the Ethics Committee and the other Executive Directors had a second occasion to consider the appropriateness of Ms. Riza's promotion, salary arrangements and out- placement, and again concluded the matter should remain closed. In January 2006, all the Directors received an anonymous email alleging, among other things, that Ms. Riza's promotion and salary increases were improper and that I had violated Bank rules. The email even provided the amount of Ms. Riza's salary increase and complained that it was "egregious." On February 28,2006, the Ethics Committee informed me that it had conducted "a careful review" of the allegations in the email, and determined that it "did not contain new information" warranting any further review. The other Executive Directors, all of whom had received the email, were informed of the Committee's resolution and took no other action.
I would like to address some questions that have been raised about my handling of this. First, it has been suggested that I erred in becoming involved in the negotiations with Ms. Riza. I knew that my contract prohibited me from engaging in any conduct that created an actual or apparent conflict, and, as I noted, I protested to the Chairman of the Committee about the appropriateness of this course of action. But my contract also said that I must submit all conflict of interest questions to the Ethics Committee, which under the Code of Conduct was responsible for resolving such issues. Therefore, when I was told orally and in writing by the Ethics Committee Chairman, that I should be the one to instruct Mr. Coll in this matter, I deferred to the Committee.
To this day, I wonder why the Committee insisted that I, rather than one of its members, be the one to instruct Mr. Coll. I only know that Ms. Riza was very upset by the Committee's decision that she should be separated in some form from her current career at the Bank, and that Mr. Melkert commented on several occasions that we needed to reach a "pragmatic solution" to this difficulty. Perhaps the Committee felt that I, because of my personal relationship with Ms. Riza, was in the best position to achieve such a "pragmatic" solution with her. Or perhaps the Committee simply did not want to get in the middle of a sticky employment situation. Clearly, Managing Director Shengman Zhang, who would have been the logical person for the Committee to call on to handle the matter, was compromised because his wife worked under him and had not been required to relocate.
Moreover, I believed that I had to follow the steps laid out by the Committee. First, during my contract negotiations, the Bank's General Counsel advised me and my lawyer that the Ethics Committee was a "mechanism within the legal framework of the Bank" to provide a resolution of the conflict issue. Once I signed my contract, it too required that I seek guidance from the Committee as to any ethical questions that arose. Further, I was subject to the Bank's Code of Conduct which required submission of conflict of interest issues to the Committee.
Much has been made of the fact that the Ethics Committee characterized its guidance to me as "advice." Surely the Ethics Committee is not suggesting that Bank officials may ignore its pronouncements with respect to ethical issues, simply because the Committee characterizes them as "advice" rather than "directives." Whether they are called "directives," "instructions" or "advice," I had every reason to believe that the Ethics Committee was the final arbiter of ethics issue, and of this issue in particular. I never imagined that I could ignore the advice of the Ethics Committee, even though I disagreed with it.
Questions have also been raised about whether I sought to hide the details of Ms. Riza's compensation from the Committee. This simply is not the case. During the negotiations with Ms. Riza, I emphasized to Mr. Coll that he was to keep this sensitive matter confidential. The reasons for this were obvious. For one thing, through no fault of her own, Ms. Riza had already been subjected to very public, demeaning and unfair rumors and allegations. For another, all personnel matters are supposed to be confidential at the Bank. I always expected that the Ethics Committee could know the details of how the matter was resolved if they so desired. I also understood that experts in the Human Resources department would review the contract. It never occurred to me that they would not, and I believe that they did. Nor can anything unusual be inferred from the fact that Ms. Riza's contract contains a non-disclosure provision. Mr. Coll suggested this was standard practice at the Bank in financial compensation settlements, and that it was done to protect both Ms. Riza's privacy and the institution. All personnel information is confidential under Bank rules.
I did reject Mr. Coll's suggestion that he involve the Bank's General Counsel, Roberto Danino, in the negotiations. I did this for several reasons. First, Mr. Danino had been advising the Ethics Committee in this matter and Mr. Melkert stated clearly that the Ethics Committee could not "interact directly with staff member situations." Second, I assumed that Mr. Danino, as advisor to the Ethics committee, would participate in their final review of the outcome of the negotiations, and I assume that he did so. I did consult respected outside labor law counsel from the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. They reviewed the proposed contract with Ms. Riza and said it was a reasonable resolution to a conflict of interest issue which, among other things, avoided any potential protracted legal proceedings.
In sum, in working to resolve the potential conflict of interest that was created by my and Ms. Riza's relationship, I acted transparently, sought and received guidance from the Bank's Ethics Committee, and conducted myself in good faith in accordance with that guidance.
I believe as well that the Ethics Committee and Mr. Coll were acting in good faith in attempting to work with me and Ms. Riza to resolve an unprecedented situation to which no Bank policies or rules clearly applied.
My counsel have prepared a submission that sets out the evidence that supportseverything I have said to you today. I have copies for all of you and I would ask that it, and my opening statement, be made part of the official record. In closing, let me say that I regret the tumult this has caused the Bank. However, to criticize me when I did nothing other than attempt in good faith to follow the guidance of the Ethics Committee would be unwarranted and grossly unfair. Moreover, it would be harmhl to the institution.
I also want to say that I am concerned that the handling of recent events may set a very damaging precedent for the Bank and for anyone who might lead it in the future. I believe that the record is so clear that I acted in accordance with the guidance of the Ethics Committee, I can only conclude that the rush to judgment, and the orchestrated leaks of false, misleading, incomplete and personal information about me and Ms. Riza, are all part of a conscious campaign to undermine my effectiveness as President and derail important programs of the Bank to aid the poor, especially in Africa.
The goal of this smear campaign, I believe, is to create a self-fulfilling prophecy that I am an ineffective leader and must step down for that reason alone, even if the ethics charges are unwarranted. But, no one, it seems, has considered the consequences to the institution if I were to be forced out in this manner. It will send a terrible message to anyone who might even think about taking the job in the hture. It will send a terrible message that the Bank does not care about reform. in a circus-like process, it will only give those who are already looking for a reason not to contribute to IDA 15, the excuse they are seeking
Finally, I have worked very hard to build support for IDA 15. If I am forced out I, for one, will not give into such tactics. And, I will not resign in the face of a plainly bogus charge of conflict of interest. I do not believe that doing so would serve the interests of the world's poor who are supposed to be the first concern of us all. Only when the cloud of these unfair and untrue charges is removed, will it truly be possible to determine objectively whether I can be an effective leader of the World Bank. Only when everyone involved in this matter steps up and admits his role and responsibility for it, and acknowledges that we all tried to act in good faith, will the Bank be able to return to normal and move forward.