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Board of Governors agree to independent probe of AfDB President, Adesina6 minutes read

The ethics committee of the continental bank, headed by Takuji Yano, had in its report last month cleared Adesina of all sixteen counts saying he was was not guilty of all the charges but the United States remained unconvinced.

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President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina in an undated photo.

After weeks of review and consultation, the Bureau of Board of Governors of the African Development Bank Group has bowed to US pressure and approved an independent investigation of the allegations against the President of the Bank, Akinwumi Adesina.

“Based on the views of some Governors on the matter and the need to carry every Governor along in resolving it, the Bureau agrees to authorize an Independent Review of the Report of the Ethics Committee of the Boards of Directors relative to the allegations considered by the Ethics Committee and the submissions made by the President of the Bank Group thereto in the interest of due process”, a communique from the Board of Governors said Thursday.

The decision, taken at the meeting of the Bureau on Thursday regarding the whistle-blowers’ complaints against Adesina, is in deference to the demand by the U.S. government that a fresh and in-depth investigation be conducted into the allegations against Adesina using an independent investigator, Premium Times, a Nigerian daily reported having access to the resolution on Friday.

On May 5, the ethics committee of the continental bank, headed by Takuji Yano, said in its report that Adesina was not guilty on all counts.

Yano is a Japanese executive director charged with the responsibility of investigating allegations by some concerned employees against the Bank’s president.

The committee described the allegations that Adesina violated the code of conduct of the institution as “spurious and unfounded”.

Regardless, the United States government expressed “deep reservations about the integrity of the committee’s process” and called for a fresh “in-depth investigation of the allegations.”

– Why fresh probe is required –

At the end of its meeting Thursday, the Bureau of Board of Governors issued a communique, agreeing with the U.S and authorizing an independent review of the ethic committee’s report.

The communique, signed by the Chairperson of the Bureau of the Boards of Governors, Niale Kaba, reads,

“The Bureau reiterates that it agrees that the Ethics Committee of the Boards of
Directors performed its role on this matter in accordance with the applicable rule under Resolution B/BG/2008/11 of the Board of Governors.

“The Bureau also reiterates that the Chairperson of the Bureau of the Board of
Governors performed her role in accepting the findings of the Ethics Committee in accordance with the said Resolution.

“However, based on the views of some Governors on the matter and the need to carry every Governor along in resolving it, the Bureau agrees to authorize an Independent Review of the Report of the Ethics Committee of the Boards of Directors relative to the allegations considered by the Ethics Committee and the submissions made by the President of the Bank Group thereto in the interest of due process.

“The Independent Review shall be conducted by a neutral high calibre individual with unquestionable experience, high international reputation and integrity within a short time period of not more than two to four weeks maximum, taking the Bank Group’s electoral calendar into account.

“The Bureau agrees that, within a three to six month period and following the independent review of the Ethics Committee Report, an independent comprehensive review of the implementation of the Bank Group’s Whistle-Blowing and Complaints Handling Policy should be conducted with a view to ensuring that the Policy is properly implemented, and revising it where necessary, to avoid situations of this nature in the future.”

The AfDB President is yet to react to the latest decisions by the Board of Governors. But he has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

On a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, Mr Adesina, a former Nigerian Minister for Agriculture, said the 16 allegations raised against him were trumped up, “and without facts, evidence, and documents, as required by the rules and regulations of the bank.”

He added that the Ethics Committee of the bank cleared him of all the allegations, and that calls for a fresh investigation by the United States of America, were against the rules.

“My defence ran into 250 pages, and not a single line was faulted or questioned,” he said.

“The law says that report of the Ethics Committee should be transmitted to the Chairman of Governors of the bank. It was done, and the governors upheld the recommendations.

“That was the end of the matter, according to the rules. It was only if I was culpable that a fresh investigation could be launched.

“I was exonerated, and any other investigation would amount to bending the rules of the bank, to arrive at a predetermined conclusion.”

While stressing that the motive was to soil his name, and that of the bank, the AfDB President said he was proud to be Nigerian, and thanked President Buhari for his unflinching support.

Nigeria is the largest shareholder of the African Development Bank with 9.1 percent shares.

– Allegations against Adesina –

In its petition, the concerned staff accused Mr Adesina of 20 breaches of the bank’s code of conduct, including “unethical conduct, private gain, an impediment to efficiency, preferential treatment, and involvement in political activities.”

The group, which noted their allegations were in line with AfDB’s whistle-blowing policy, said these activities adversely affected the confidence and integrity of the bank.

Nigeria, Adesina’s home country, had last week countered the US by insisting that such a request for an independent investigation could not be granted by the Board of Governors as AfDB’s corporate governance code contains no such provision for an external “independent outside investigator”.

Nigerian authorities then began lobbying for Adesina after receiving satisfactory intelligence briefing that the AfDB president was the victim of a witch-hunt by the Americans.

“The call for an independent investigation of the president is outside of the laid down rules, procedures and governing system of the bank and its articles as it relates to the code of conduct on ethics for the president,” Zainab Ahmed, Nigeria’s Finance minister wrote in a letter to AfDB’s Board of Governors where it denounced the plans to circumvent the bank’s internal procedures.

Ahmed asked the AfDB to “uphold the rule of law and respect the governance systems of the bank” and if there was need for improvement, it should be done according to laid down procedure. She then highlighted all Adesina’s projects and achievements which she noted did not warrant such an attack on his career.

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, in a letter to former African presidents also canvassed support for Adesina, saying he had taken the bank to a great height since he took the position in the last five years.

Adesina, “has actively positioned (AfDB) as an effective global institution ranked fourth globally in terms of transparency among 45 multilateral and bilateral institutions,” Obasanjo wrote to 13 former heads of state including Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia and Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson of Liberia.

The U.S. became a member of the African Development Fund in 1976 and of the African Development Bank in 1983. Also, its bilateral cooperation with the bank has been strengthened through cooperation agreements.

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Kenya Airways Postpones Resumption Of New York Flights

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Kenya Airways has suspended its resumption of flights to New York City until November 29, a statement said on Saturday.

The airline announced that all flights have been postponed following increased cancellation of flight bookings to the United States’ city.

“We greatly appreciate the internet and support of our customers who had booked with us and have made alternative arrangements for their travel,” Kenya Airways Corporate Communications said.

“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

Kenya Airways management had announced plans to resume Nairobi-New York direct flights in October following resumption of international travel.

The national carrier Chairman Michael Joseph had said the airline will start with one flight a week with frequency increasing based on demand.

“I think we will go once a week and then we will start to build. If we see the demand is up, we will go two times or three times a week. I don’t know when we will go back to daily flights to the US because of the pandemic,” Joseph said.

Kenya Airways started direct flights to the US in October 2018, cutting the journey to 15 hours.

As of October last year, it had completed 594 flights to and from New York , flying at least 105,084 passengers.

The airline had deployed a Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet with a capacity of 234 seats for daily flight to New York.

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WTO JOB: Nigeria Reaches Out To US, South Korea

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Following the United States opposition to Nigeria’s former minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, heading the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Nigerian government has reached out to the US to persuade them to back the 66-year-old.

Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment, on Friday, said it had also reached out to South Korea.

Okonjo-Iweala and South Korean trade minister, Yoo Myung-hee, are the remaining candidates for the WTO top job. The United States has officially backed Myung-hee, the only nation out of the 164 members of the WTO to do so.

The United States’ stand came hours after a high-powered WTO panel had recommended Okonjo-Iweala to lead the global trade watchdog, teeing her up to become its first African and first woman head.

“Nigeria is currently reaching out to all members of the WTO including the United States and South Korea to overcome the impasse as well as persuade the United States to join the consensus,” the trade ministry said in a statement.

A person involved in the leadership race cast doubt on Nigeria’s plans to bring pressure to bear on Washington, however.

“They can push in the sense that they can get on the phone, try to mobilise support, but is that going to change the view in Washington? I think not,” the person, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, told Reuters.

The ministry said the WTO’s 164 member states were expected to adopt Okonjo-Iweala as the organization’s director-general by consensus, but the United States was the sole country to oppose her, flouting the organisation’s rules.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office has officially backed the only other remaining candidate, South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee. In a statement, it called her a successful trade negotiator with the skills needed to lead the trade body at a “very difficult time”.

Next steps are uncertain, but a WTO spokesman said there was likely to be “frenzied activity” before a Nov. 9 meeting, less than a week after the U.S. presidential election, to secure the required consensus from all 164 member states for Okonjo-Iweala.

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Court Grants Former Bosasa COO, Angelo Agrizzi, bail

Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi was denied bail in his corruption and bribery case

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Former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi has been granted bail by the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Friday.

Agrizzi was denied bail earlier on October 14 by the Specialised Commercial Crime Court sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court. He appealed against Magistrate Phillip Venter’s ruling.

On Friday, Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng averred that the court in Palm Ridge misdirected itself both in fact and law.

Agrizzi has been detained for two weeks after the Palm Ridge Specialised Crimes Court denied him bail.

Agrizzi is facing fraud and corruption charges. He stands accused of bribing influential individuals, including Vincent Smith, the then chairperson of Parliament’s correctional services committee.

Agrizzi has been detained for two weeks after the Palm Ridge Specialised Crimes Court denied him bail

Earlier this month, Agrizzi was moved from the Johannesburg Prison to a private hospital over breathing issues. Agrizzi was hospitalised, allegedly on ventilators after going into cardiac arrest while in custody.

The National Prosecuting Authority’s Investigating Directorate accused Agrizzi of lying in his previous bail affidavit last year.

He told the court that he and his wife’s moveable assets were valued at R2.6 million when in fact they amount to over R30 million.

On Monday, Agrizzi’s lawyers declared his doctors were finding it difficult to treat him because he is chained to a bed and there were too many armed guards in his ward.

They demanded that he be released on bail because he is at high risk of contracting COVID-19 due to his pre-existing chronic medical condition.

His lawyers argued that his denial of bail was unfair because he had so far cooperated with investigations, the state capture commission, and has no prior convictions.

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