Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 5 August 2020

Independent experts clear African Development Bank chief

Akinwumi Adesina has been found innocent of charges after accusations by whistle-blowers

Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, attends a meeting of the 2020 African Economic Outlook report in Abidjan, Ivory Coast January 30, 2020. REUTERS
Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, attends a meeting of the 2020 African Economic Outlook report in Abidjan, Ivory Coast January 30, 2020. REUTERS

An independent panel of experts led by former Irish president Mary Robinson has cleared the beleaguered leader of the African Development Bank (AfDB) of corruption, a report shows.

The panel backed the findings of the bank's ethics committee, which cleared Akinwumi Adesina, 60, of all charges that came from complaints by whistle-blowers.

Mr Adesina, a charismatic speaker known for his elegant suits and bow ties, became the first Nigerian to lead the bank in 2015.

But a 15-page report this year claimed that under his watch the bank had been blighted by poor governance, impunity, personal enrichment and favouritism.

The panel of three experts, also including Gambia's Chief Justice Hassan Jallow and the World Bank's former integrity vice president Leonard McCarthy, cleared Mr Adesina of all accusations from whistle-blowers.

"The panel concurs with the committee in its findings in respect of all the allegations against the president and finds that they were properly considered and dismissed by the committee," Monday's report concluded.

The African bank and Mr Adesina, who is the sole candidate for the bank's August's presidential elections, have been battered since the whistle-blowers' complaints were leaked to the media in April.

The former Nigerian finance minister had always declared himself innocent of the charges.

Ms Robinson, who led Ireland from 1990 to 1997 before serving as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights until 2002, dismissed the 16 accusations.

The panel did not investigate the charges because that was not within its mandate.

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

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and largest economy, has firmly backed Mr Adesina in the face of the allegations.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said the panel's report "validates his competence and integrity to lead" the bank.

"This conclusion of the review of the Report of the Ethics Committee should finally draws a curtain on the allegations that have created distractions for the institution in recent months," Mr Buhari said on Twitter.

"I urge Dr Adesina to remain steadfast, dedicated and resolute in pursuing his noble goals for the bank, especially with the now-expected second term in office."

Updated: July 29, 2020 02:30 AM

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