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Wolfowitz Stamped Lover's Pay

by staff

Hong Kong - World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz personally ordered the hefty pay rise given to his girlfriend at the bank, the Financial Times website reported on Thursday.It cited two people who had seen a memo from Wolfowitz to the head of human resources spelling out the terms of the nearly $200 000 package for Shaha Riza, a bank official with whom he was romantically involved.

Under the deal the Libyan-born Riza was also promoted and eventually seconded to the US state department, where US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reportedly earns less than she does.

She was transferred to the state department in line with World Bank regulations to avoid conflict of interest after Wolfowitz's appointment.

But the furore that has erupted after details of Riza's pay became public now threatens to overshadow this weekend's annual spring meeting of the World Bank and has raised questions about Wolfowitz's future at the bank's helm.

It also comes with Wolfowitz, previously one of the major US strategists for the war in Iraq, waging a public and occasionally unpopular campaign against corruption in World Bank lending.

The Financial Times said it had not seen the August 11 2005 Wolfowitz memo but that according to two sources who had, he set out Riza's salary, the details for her promotion and the basis for calculating pay rises in future.

In a statement to staff on Monday that did not mention Riza by name, Wolfowitz said he accepted "full responsibility" for the case, which is now being investigated by the bank's board of governors.

Copyright 2007

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