Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of AfDB

US urges independent probe into allegations against AfDB President

* Treasury Secretary Mnuchin rejects plans to end investigation into Akinwumi Adesina, doubts integrity of ethics committee’s findings

* Says allegations against President can affect support, confidence, clear mandate of AfDB’s shareholders

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Steven Mnuchin, United States Treasury Secretary, has rejected plans by the Board of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, to end an investigation into Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, and called for an independent probe into allegations against him.

Mnuchin, in a letter dated May 22, 2020, and addressed to Niale Kaba, Chairwoman of the AfDB Board of Governors, said the Treasury disagreed with findings by the bank’s ethics committee that “totally exonerated” Dr. Adesina, reports Bloomberg.

Report says Kaba confirmed receipt of the document, but declined to offer further comment on the matter.

The intervention by the Treasury, the AfDB’s biggest non-African shareholder, comes two weeks after the ethics committee found no evidence to support allegations of favouritism by Adesina.

The 60-year-old President of the Bank, who has repeatedly refuted the allegations, is the only candidate up for election as president at an annual general meeting scheduled for August 2020.

“We have deep reservations about the integrity of the committee’s process.

“Instead, we urge you to initiate an in-depth investigation of the allegations, using the services of an independent outside investigator of high professional standing,” Mnuchin said.

With regard to the continental banking group’s mandate, the report related that Adesina was accused by a group of “unidentified whistleblowers” of handing contracts to acquaintances and appointing relatives to strategic positions.

The United States Treasury Secretary said: “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 the AfDB’s President has broad support, confidence, and a clear mandate from shareholders.”

The US criticism of the Bank’s internal processes was sequel to World Bank President David Malpass’ comments in February 2020 that multilateral lenders including the AfDB tend to provide loans too quickly.

The speedy process, according to Malpass, adds to African nations’ debt problems and attendant overhang.

However, AfDB leadership has refuted the declarations as “inaccurate and not fact-based”.

The AfDB is Africa’s biggest multilateral lender, and has an AAA rating from Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings.

The Bank’s shareholders are Africa’s 54 nations and 27 countries in the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia.

Recall that in March 2020, the continental lender issued a $3 billion social bond to help African countries to deal with the fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Bids for the securities on the London money market exceeded $4.6 billion. The Bank also launched a $10 billion crisis-response facility for African nations, said the report.

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