Mnuchin Demands Independent Probe of AFDB President

Mnuchin Demands Independent Probe of AFDB President

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wants AFDB’s President Akinwunmi Adesina to be probed over allegations of corruption.

In a letter dated May 22 and addressed to Niale Kaba, chairwoman of the bank’s board of governors, Mnuchin said the Treasury refutes findings by the bank’s ethics committee that “totally exonerated” Adesina.

Kaba confirmed receipt of the document and declined further comment.

The U.S. Treasury’s claims resurfaced barely two weeks after the ethics committee closed the case against the AFDB Chief for lack of evidence.

Meanwhile Adesina, who has repeatedly refuted the allegations, is the only candidate up for election as president at an annual general meeting scheduled for August.

“We have deep reservations about the integrity of the committee’s process,” Mnuchin said. “Instead, we urge you to initiate an in-depth investigation of the allegations using the services of an independent outside investigator of high professional standing.”

The U.S. Treasury didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Adesina is accused by groups of unanimous whistleblowers of favoritism which has brought a toll on Africa’s debt.

“Considering the scope, seriousness, and detail of these allegations against the sole candidate for bank leadership over the next five years, we believe that further inquiry is necessary to ensure that the AfDB’s president has broad support, confidence, and a clear mandate from shareholders,” Mnuchin said.

The U.S. has a 6.5% stake in the lender, the largest shareholding after Adesina’s home country of Nigeria as of November 2019, according to the AfDB’s website.

U.S. criticism of the bank’s internal processes follows comments by World Bank President David Malpass in February that multilateral lenders including the AfDB tend to provide loans too quickly, and, in the process, add to African nations’ debt problems. The bank rebutted the statements as “inaccurate and not fact-based.”

The AfDB is Africa’s biggest multilateral lender and has an AAA rating from Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings. Its shareholders are Africa’s 54 nations and 27 countries in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia.