Clap for the Wolfman


Lost in the Imus/Duke shuffle this week is a hell of a sex scandal about notorious lovemaker Paul Wolfowitz.

Paul Wolfowitz's future as president of the World Bank was in jeopardy on Friday after the bank's board issued a damaging finding of facts on his role in the Shaha Riza affair and pledged to "move expeditiously to reach a conclusion on possible actions to take."

The controversy relates to Mr Wolfowitz's personal involvement in securing a promotion and a pay rise far in excess of the normal maximum associated with such a promotion for Ms Riza, a bank official with whom he was romantically involved, as part of a secondment package.

The board statement – hammered out after tough negotiation between board members – states that Mr Wolfowitz "sent the vice-president, human resources, a written memorandum directing him to reach agreement with the staff member and specifying in detail the terms and conditions."

The relationship's been public knowledge for years, by the way. Sebastian Mallaby, who knows something about the World Bank, is crestfallen.

Treating an anti-poverty institution this way would look bad under any circumstances. But the scandal is especially damaging to Wolfowitz because his leadership had generated questions already. He has alienated the staff by concentrating too much power in the hands of Kellems and the abrasive Cleveland; he has alienated shareholders by presenting half-baked strategy ideas; he has alienated borrowers by blocking loans, sometimes capriciously. Moreover, Wolfowitz has made the battle against corruption his signature issue. He of all people should have thought twice before sanctioning exorbitant pay for his entourage.

There's some huge cosmic joke here to be made about the World Bank in general, but I can't think of it.