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Bank Counsel Hired By Wolfowitz Is Best Friends With Riza, Attempted To Block Investigation

In 2005, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz appointed former-Spanish government official Ana Palacio as Bank General Counsel, one of the top positions in the organization. Wolfowitz claimed that he had appointed Palacio for her “legal skill and diplomacy” and for her “exceptional leadership and management capabilities, which he assured “she will bring to this position.”

In reality, she was appointed largely because of her strong support for the Iraq war, and “diplomacy” does not appear to be one of her traits. Highly unpopular within the Bank, an anonymous bank employee speaks up today at the site worldbankpresident.org:

She is known to be overbearing and yell on a regular basis. … She is known to intimidate people by mentioning her proximity to the President. Her conduct can only be characterized as unprofessional. Since the time she has been holding the position, two members of her immediate staff have left after very short periods on the basis of “untenable working conditions”. …. Throughout the Bank, staff find her absent, incoherent, rude and simply not fitted for the job.

Considered a “personal friend” of Shaha Riza’s by bank employees, Palacio has gone to great lengths to deflect the ongoing investigations. As the bank’s top legal counsel, she was supposed to help investigate the pay raise controversy, but she instead tried to stonewall the investigation from even occurring. According to an internal Bank bulletin, a bank employee wrote:

As last week’s Board meeting on Riza-gate was about to commence, Mr. Wolfowitz and Mmes. Cleveland and Palacio barged into the Board room and demanded to participate in the closed-door Board session. An argument ensued between the Board and the executive triumvirate. … Ms. Palacio demanded to stay because she claimed she had a right to remain as counsel to the board. … A needless debate that lasted close to an hour followed and MS. PALACIO REFUSED TO LEAVE THE BOARD ROOM! The board was then forced to adjourn the meeting.

Furthermore, as the controversy began to gain more attention last month, Palacio attempted to deflect attention towards an unrelated investigation, conveniently announcing at the same time that she was looking into a leak of “confidential internal communications” revealed by Fox News.

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The abysmal management skills and partisan loyalty that Palacio exhibits reflects how Wolfowitz has loaded the World Bank with unpopular right-wing political appointees with little real effectiveness at the Bank.