Stay of execution for World Bank's Wolfowitz

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The World Bank's board has adjourned a meeting set to determine the future of embattled president Paul Wolfowitz.

Mr Wolfowitz apologised yesterday to the Washington DC-based bank's staff after it emerged he approved the promotion and pay rise of his girlfriend.

A statement from the board issued today denied the president's claims that the conditions of Shaha Riza's state department secondment were approved by the ethics committee and its chairman when Mr Wolfowitz was appointed in 2005.

When the board meeting is adjourned, its members will ultimately have to decide whether Mr Wolfowitz broke the bank's rules and what action should be taken.

"The executive directors will move expeditiously to reach a conclusion on possible actions to take," the board's statement said.

"In their consideration of the matter the executive directors will focus on all relevant governance implications for the bank."

Mr Wolfowitz's admission to employees yesterday in Washington was greeted by boos and hisses as he was forced to end his address.

"In hindsight, I wish I had trusted my original instincts and kept myself out of the negotiations. I made a mistake, for which I am sorry," he said.

But pressure is growing on Mr Wolfowitz to resign. The editorial of today's Financial Times claims that the bank's role as the "voice for good governance" was under threat, adding that the president of the World Bank had only one asset; "his credibility".

"The World Bank has moved from being a self-proclaimed exemplar of best practice in corporate governance to an example of shoddiness," the editorial elaborates.

"As long as Mr Wolfowitz stays, this can be neither repaired nor forgotten, be it outside the bank or inside it. In the interests of the Bank itself, he should resign. If he does not, the board must ask him to go."

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