WASHINGTON - World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz decried yesterday what he called a "smear campaign" against him and told a special bank panel that he had acted in good faith in securing a promotion and pay raise for his girlfriend. He reiterated that he had no plans to resign, and President Bush gave him a fresh endorsement.
In a prepared statement to the panel, Wolfowitz said the institution's ethics committee had access to all the details surrounding the arrangement involving bank employee Shaha Riza, "if they wanted it."
Wolfowitz told the panel: "I acted transparently, sought and received guidance from the bank's ethics committee, and conducted myself in good faith in accordance with that guidance."
The special panel is investigating Wolfowitz's handling of the 2005 promotion of Riza, who also was scheduled to appear before the group.
The controversy has prompted calls for the resignation of Wolfowitz, an architect of the Iraq war in his preceding Pentagon job. The bank's 24-member board is expected to make a decision in the case this week.
Bush, meanwhile, said Wolfowitz "ought to stay. He ought to be given a fair hearing."
Wolfowitz lamented that the controversy over the pay package was part of an effort to oust him from the bank presidency, which he has held for nearly two years. The institution's mission is to fight global poverty.
"The goal of this smear campaign, I believe, is to create a self-fulfilling prophecy that I am an ineffective leader and must step down for that reason alone, even if the ethics charges are unwarranted," Wolfowitz said.
He vowed to fight for his job. "I will not resign in the face of a plainly bogus charge of conflict of interest," he said.
Bush said Wolfowitz's fate had not come up during a U.S.-European Union summit at the White House. The Europeans, including a German government official, have been critical of Wolfowitz, and the European Parliament has called on him to resign. There had been talk that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, would bring up Wolfowitz.