President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has restated his innocence in the face of allegations made against him by a group of “concerned staff” at the institution.
Adesina in a press statement released on Wednesday said the allegations were ill-intentioned.
He said, “In spite of unprecedented attempts by some to tarnish my reputation and prejudice the Bank’s governance procedures, I maintain my innocence with regard to trumped up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn my honor and integrity, as well as the reputation of the African Development Bank”.
A whistle-blowers’ complaint was filed in January against the AfDB President accusing him of breaching 20 of the institution’s code of conduct. The breaches, according to the group, included “unethical conduct, private gain, an impediment to efficiency, preferential treatment, and involvement in political activities.”
The unidentified staff members also alleged that Adesina handed contracts to acquaintances and appointed relatives to strategic positions in the institution.
On May 5, the Ethics Committee of the bank headed by Takuji Yano, dismissed the allegations as “spurious and unfounded,” adding that Adesina was not guilty on all counts. However, the US Department of Treasury, in a letter credited to its Secretary Steve Mnuchin, disagreed with the Bank’s Ethics Committee’s decision to “totally exonerate” Adesina.
In the letter dated May 22 and directed at the Chairwoman of the AfDB’s Board of Governors, Niale Kaba, the US rejected the dismissal of the allegations, and called for further investigation.
“We have deep reservations about the integrity of the Committee’s process. Instead, we urge you [AfDB] to initiate an in-depth investigation of the allegations using the services of an independent outside investigator of high professional standing,” Mnuchin wrote.
He further stated that “undertaking an independent evaluation of facts, at any stage, is not at odds with a presumption of innocence”.
It added, “Considering the scope, seriousness and detail of these allegations against the sole candidate for bank leadership over the next five years, we believe that further inquiry is necessary to ensure that AfDB’s president has broad support, confidence, and a clear mandate from shareholders.”
However, Adesina in the new statement said he was confident that the bank “ultimately and as one collective” would emerge stronger than before and continue to support Africa’s development drive.
He said, ‘I am 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.”
Adesina, who is contesting for a second term as the continental bank’s president, restated his commitment to work with all stakeholders of the Bank to ensure that it continues to maintain its hard-earned global reputation.
The former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development is the only candidate for AfDB’s election scheduled to hold in August.