World Bank Seeking Outside Counsel to Conduct Leak Probe

1 March 2007

The World Bank has decided to seek outside help to track down who leaked minutes of a January 2007 board meeting to Fox News, a senior World Bank official has told

"We want this to be independent, so management is working with the board to identify outside counsel to conduct it," according to a prepared statement read by the official. World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz on Feb. 1 said the Bank would investigate who provided Fox News with the "raw" minutes of a World Bank board meeting in January, a document that transparency advocates say should routinely be made public.

Bruce Jenkins of the Bank Information Center said, "This is ridiculous, Wolfowitz and the Board should be ashamed of wasting precious development resources to track Bank officials who disclosed a document that should be made public regularly. They should just drop it." Among other activities, BIC tracks transparency issues at the World Bank and other international financial institutions.

The probe followed an article critical of Wolfowitz and the bank, published by Fox News on Jan. 31.

"Disclosure of such documents is a violation of Bank rules themselves," Wolfowitz said in a joint announcement with senior bank official Eckhard Deutscher.

However, in the ensuing weeks, officials have declined to say who was conducting the leak probe. The Bank’s Institutional Integrity Department was not been asked to conduct it. The Bank official who indicated that the Bank will seek outside counsel declined to speculate on when this would occur, or other details.

"It’s sad to think of public money being spent on a witch-hunt that can only result in the public learning even less about what’s going on behind the Bank’s closed doors," commented Richard Behar, the freelance author of the Fox report.

By Toby McIntosh

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Filed under: IFTI Watch


In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
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