February 2, 2023

“I’m innocent” – President of African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina releases statement

The President of African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina released a statement on Wednesday, saying he was innocent of the “trumped up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn my honor and integrity, as well as the reputation of the African Development Bank”

The Trump administration has called for a second probe against Adesina after the bank cleared him on May 5. Several other countries backed the call for a second probe.

But in his statement on Wednesday, Adesina, a Nigerian citizen, said he was confident that “fair, transparent and just processes that respect the rules, procedures and governance systems of the bank, and the rule of law, will ultimately prove that I have not violated the Code of Ethics of this extraordinary institution”.

Meanwhile, the African Development Bank’s board has agreed to open a fresh independent investigation of Adesina following pressures from the Trump administration.

Bloomberg quoted two persons familiar with deliberations on the matter as confirming that a new probe will take place after the U.S. rejected an internal investigation that cleared Adesina of allegations of favoritism and nepotism.

Adesina, who has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, may have to step back from the role until the probe is completed, the people told Bloomberg.

The report quoted the two persons as saying “Africa’s largest multilateral lender decided on the inquiry after several governments backed U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s criticism of a bank-led examination into the allegations”.

Unidentified whistleblowers accused Adesina, 60, of handing contracts to acquaintances and appointing relatives to strategic positions.

“The proposed investigation comes three months before the bank’s annual meeting, at which Adesina is the sole candidate to extend his five-year term. The AAA-rated lender’s 80 shareholders in October pledged to provide funding that will help to more than double its capital base to $208 billion,” Bloomberg said, adding that “Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland are among countries that wrote to the AfDB to back the Mnuchin’s demands for professional outsiders to look into the allegations, the people said.”

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