Controversy over World Bank chief’s girlfriend deepens; no resignation yet

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2007 (AFP) – World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz Thursday apologized for making a “mistake” over hefty pay rises given to his girlfriend at the development lender, but refused to say if he might quit.

“I made a mistake, for which I am sorry,” Wolfowitz told a press conference as an uproar intensified over an employment package worth nearly 200,000 dollars given by the World Bank to his Libyan-born partner, Shaha Riza.

The former deputy US defense secretary, one of the architects of the war in Iraq, refused to say if he might have to resign as the World Bank’s board of governors met to discuss the row Thursday.

“I’m not going to pre-empt their deliberations,” he said, but stressed: “I will accept any remedies they propose.

“I take full responsibility for the details of the agreement,” he added, after explaining that he had followed advice given by the bank’s ethics committee on Riza’s employment.

“I did not attempt to hide my actions nor make anyone else responsible.”

The controversy has embarrassed Wolfowitz just as he battles to overcome skepticism about a campaign that he is waging against corruption in the World Bank’s multi-billion-dollar lending.

He is also und