Under-fire African Development Bank boss facing new graft probe

Friday June 5 2020

Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African

Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank. PHOTO | SAM PANTHAKY | AFP 

AFP
By AFP
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The African Development Bank on Thursday launched an independent inquiry into allegations of embezzlement and preferential treatment against its embattled president Akinwumi Adesina, who is seeking re-election in August, its board of governors said.

The investigation into Adesina, a former Nigerian minister for agriculture, follows calls for a probe by Washington, and must wrap up within a "maximum" of four weeks as the institution prepares to elect a new head, the board said in a statement.

Whistleblowers

In April, whistleblowers submitted a 15-page report to the bank's governors detailing alleged embezzlement, preferential treatment for fellow Nigerians in senior appointments, and the promotion of people suspected or convicted of fraud and corruption.

Adesina—who was recently exonerated by an internal inquiry—is the first Nigerian to be in charge of the 56-year-old AfDB, one of the world's five major multilateral development banks.

Nigeria, whose stake makes it the bank's biggest shareholder, has made little secret of its support for Adesina.

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On Tuesday, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari told Adesina that the country "will stand solidly behind" him in his bid to remain at the helm of the bank.

New probe

The bank chief repeated to Buhari his insistence the allegations against him were trumped up and that the US call for a new probe was against the bank's rules.

In October 2019, the AfDB raised $115 billion in fresh capital, an operation deemed a personal success for Adesina.

It is the only African institution which has a Triple-A rating by credit rating agencies.

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