African bank chief cleared of ethics abuses

By: AFP      Published: 11:48 PM, 11 May, 2020
African bank chief cleared of ethics abuses

The African Development Bank has cleared its president of accusations of multiple abuses of the bank's code of ethics, according to a report seen by AFP on Monday.

"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 five-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 coloured bowtie, is charismatic and enjoys a positive international image.

The AfDB is one of the world's five 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 nine percent. 

The bank was shaken by a series of high-level departures soon after his arrival, with complaints of Adesina's "authoritarian" leadership style.