President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, yesterday maintained his innocence over allegations of fraud and breach of code of ethics of the bank levelled against him by whistle-blowers.
Adesina, in a statement, said he remained confident that ultimately, and as one collective entity, the bank would emerge stronger than before and continue to support Africa’s development drive.
Despite being cleared of the allegations by AfDB Ethics Committee, the United States Treasury Secretary, Mr. Steven Mnuchin, a few days ago, called for an independent investigation into the same allegations.
AfDB Board has bowed to pressure from the United States, the third largest shareholder after Nigeria and Egypt, and agreed to an independent probe of Adesina.
The US had rejected an internal investigation that cleared him of allegations of wrongdoing.
Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland are among countries that wrote to AfDB to back the US demands for professional outsiders to look into the allegations, according to Bloomberg.
But AfDB has described the allegations as unprecedented attempts by some to tarnish Adesina’s reputation and prejudice the bank’s governance procedures.
Adesina said he was being inspired by the lives of the duo of the late South African President, Mr. Nelson Mandela, and the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan.
The unidentified whistleblowers had accused Adesina, who is angling for a second term in office, of handing contracts to acquaintances and appointing relatives to strategic positions, allegations which AfDB has denied.
The proposed investigation comes three months before the bank’s annual meeting, at which Adesina is the sole candidate to extend his five-year term.
The AAA-rated lender’s 80 shareholders in October pledged to provide funding that would help to more than double its capital base to $208 billion.
Mnuchin last week had written to AfDB to express “deep reservations” about the integrity of the lender’s ethics committee after it exonerated Adesina.