Mnuchin Hails AfDB Review After Spat With Nigeria Over Bank Head

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin welcomed a decision by theAfrican Development Bank to reexamine a probe into the lender’s president that ignited a dispute between America and Nigeria.

“International financial institutions must adhere to the highest standards of governance and transparency, and the decision to pursue an independent review demonstrates the strength of the African Development Bank,” Mnuchin said in a statement Thursday. “Undertaking an independent review is fully consistent with a presumption of innocence.”

Former Irish President Mary Robinson will head a panel that includes a top ex-South African prosecutor and Gambia’s chief justice to review an ethics committee report that found no evidence of wrongdoing by AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina.

The inquiry is the result of a compromise reached after bank shareholders — led by the U.S. and including several non-regional member states — called for an independent investigation. The panel’s review comes as Adesina, a former Nigerian agriculture minister, seeks to extend his five-year term at the bank’s annual general meeting next month.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari flew Adesina, 60, tohis presidential villa from the Ivory Coast last month to offer his support. Buhari assured the AfDB head that he would mobilize backing from more African countries against the “onslaught led by America.”

The ethics committee conducted the investigation after unidentified whistleblowers accused Adesina of handing contracts to acquaintances and appointing relatives to strategic positions. Adesina has repeatedly denied the allegations.

The AfDB is Africa’s biggest multilateral bank. Shareholders of the lender include 54 nations on the continent and 27 countries in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

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