"> How #AFDB Ethics Committee Function -Former General Counsel - Sahel Standard
July 14, 2020
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How #AFDB Ethics Committee Function -Former General Counsel

An international Lawyer and former General Counsel of AfDB anonymously sheds light on how AFDB Ethics committee operates plus the reality that the committee is chaired by a Japanese alongside an American membership.

“As a former General Counsel of the AfDB and one who is familiar with the facts, processes, rules and policies of the institution, allow me to offer a few clarifications.

First, AfDB has 78 shareholders, 55 African countries and 33 Non-African countries, including all of the G7 countries. The largest shareholder is Nigeria. Although the US is the largest non-African shareholder, I believe it is currently the 3rd largest shareholder after Nigeria and Egypt. Of course, it is the biggest economic power in the World, for now.
Allegations were made against the AfDB President.

Let us leave aside for now the fact that he is a Nigerian or African. The allegations surfaced after it became clear he was going to be the sole candidate for the election this year, and it was inevitable he would be re-elected for a 2nd term.

There are internal processes for reviewing such allegations, independent of the President. The Ethics Committee, which I established as General Counsel, is a committee composed exclusively of Board members.

The General Counsel serves as Secretary to the Ethics Committee. The purpose of the Committee is to review allegations of ethical misconduct by Executive Directors (Board members) and the President. It has powers to make recommendations in the case of the President to the Chairman of the Board of Governors of AfDB.

The Board of Governors is the highest decision-making organ of the AfDB. If after reviewing allegations, the Ethics Committee finds that the allegations are frivolous, it recommends that they are dismissed.

If it finds that they are not, it recommends to the Chairperson of the Board of Governors that they should be investigated. In this case, the Ethics Committee’s recommendation was that the allegations were frivolous and should be dismissed, because they were not substantiated by the “whistleblowers” and some were patently ridiculous.

The Chairperson of the Board of Governors, who sits in a quasi appellate position in this process reviews the report of the Ethics Committee and decides to uphold the recommendation.

Now, the Ethics Committee has three African Executive Directors and two Non-African Executive Directors (all representatives of shareholders or member states). It is chaired by a Japanese ED and the US ED is a member.

Please tell me why from a corporate governance perspective one shareholder out of 78 shareholders should dictate a position different from that taken by independent oversight organs, simply because they do not agree with the conclusions of these independent oversight bodies?

We all know that the current administration in the US has a track record of intolerance for multilateral organisations and has sought to bully other nation states into accepting its position on issues in these organisations.

The most recent example being the WHO. Recently, the WTO Director General also had to resign, because of harassment by the current US administration. As a former General Counsel and an international lawyer, as well as a believer in the rule of law, I strongly take exception to the US position.

I hope that the institution will resist this bully tactic and protect the AfDB from an unnecessary and potentially destructive corporate governance crisis.
Africa needs AfDB. We should stand up for what is legal, fair and just.”

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