Former Irish president to lead probe on AfDB’s Adesina

Mary Robinson will review the case against Akinwumi Adesina of the African Development Bank after whistleblowers accused him of corruption

Ireland’s former president Mary Robinson will lead a panel investigating the leader of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Akinwumi Adesina.

The 60-year-old banker had a list of accusations levelled against him in January this year. A 15-page petition claimed that the AfDB had been marred by poor governance, impunity and favouritism on his watch.

Unnamed employees, calling themselves the “Group of Concerned Staff Members of the AfDB”, were behind the petition.

Internal investigation criticised

The AfDB’s ethics committee cleared Adesina of the corruption allegations in early May after he presented a strong defence.

However, pressure for an independent investigation has persisted, with the United States rejecting the initial inquiry that cleared him.

The US Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, signed a letter to the AfDB board of governors, dated 22 May, asking members to set aside the internal investigation and calling for an independent probe.

Adesina denies all the allegations. The AfDB president is the first Nigerian to lead the institution and was due for re-election before he was accused of corruption.

Governors give thumbs-up

The Robinson-led panel will be reviewing the report produced by the bank’s ethics committee.

Joining her to carry out the probe will be Chief Justice Hassan Jallow of Gambia and the World Bank’s vice-president for integrity, Leonard McCarthy, a statement from the AfDB’s board of governors said on Wednesday.

The AfDB governors said they have “complete confidence” in the work that the panel will do. Robinson is well respected in judicial circles, having a career as a barrister before serving as president of Ireland between 1990 and 1997.

She then worked as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights until 2002.

The new inquiry is due to deliver its findings in two to four weeks.

The AfDB plays an important if largely behind-the-scenes role in African economies, financing projects in agriculture, health, energy, education, transport and other areas of development.

E A Alanore and Asaase staff writers

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