Employees of the World Bank have been “expressing concern, dismay, and outrage” regarding favoritism shown by the bank and the Bush administration towards the one-time girlfriend of World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, according to an internal memo circulated within the bank by the World Bank Group Association, which represents the rights of the bank’s 13,000 employees. Among other things, the April 3 memo alleges that Shaha Riza, Wolfowitz’s romantic interest was given a “promotion [that] clearly does not conform” to bank procedures. Moreover, the memo alleges, she was then given a raise “more than double the amount allowed” by the bank’s rules.
Wolfowitz, who as Deputy Secretary of Defense was considered an architect of the U.S. war with Iraq, disclosed to bank board members that he had a romantic relationship with a senior bank communications officer, Shaha Riza, shortly after he was nominated to head the World Bank. Bank regulations disallow bank employees from supervising spouses or romantic partners, but Wolfowitz reportedly attempted to circumvent the rules so he would be able to continue to work with Riza. Informed by the bank’s ethics officers that that would not be allowable, the problem appeared solved when Riza was detailed to work at the State Department’s public diplomacy office in September 2005–even though her salary was still to be paid by the World Bank.
Before she was detailed over to the State Department, Riza was earning $132,660, according to the bank’s payroll records obtained by the Governmental Accountability Project. Had the bank’s board adhered to its ordinary rules, as Riza was shifted over to the State Department, she should have only been eligible for a raise of about $20,000. Instead she was given a raise of $47,340, whereupon her salary became $180,000. Then last year, she received yet another raise which brought her salary to $193,000. That salary increase not only meant that Riza earned more than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but apparently made her the single highest paid State Department official.
As to the romance between Wolfowitz and Riza, it is unclear where that stands. The Washington Examiner recently reported that the two had split up. But Wonkette reported earlier today that the two of them were recently spotted making out after a party at the Japanese ambassador’s house.