Woman at Heart of Wolfowitz Scandal Claims to Be Victim

The woman at the heart of the controversy that has embroiled World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz says she is a victim and was forced into a job transfer because of their relationship.

Shaha Riza said that at no time did she report directly to Wolfowitz and that he had proposed to recuse himself from any decisions involving her to avoid a potential conflict of interest.

She said the ethics committee of the World Bank's board had required her "to go on external assignment contrary to my wishes."

Riza was detailed to a high-paying job at the State Department in September 2005. "I have now been victimized for agreeing to an arrangement that I have objected to and that I did not believe from the outset was in my best interest," she said.

Her comments were made in a memo to an ad hoc committee of the World Bank looking into the circumstances surrounding her transfer. The memo was part of a set of documents released by the bank on Friday.

Wolfowitz has said he made a mistake and has apologized for his role in Riza's promotion. The White House expressed fresh support for Wolfowitz on Friday.

However, some of the bank's staff have called for him to resign.

The World Bank's board has been looking into the matter, which has overshadowed this weekend's meetings of the 185-nation World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

A bank official said the board was not meeting on the Wolfowitz matter on Friday but was focusing on the meetings.

Before her transfer to the State Department, Riza worked as a communications adviser in the bank's Middle East Department. In her memo, Riza said she did not wish to be put on detail away from the bank and did not expect "any special considerations."

She also lamented the "vicious public attacks" she said she has received over the matter. The episode, she said, has affected her "professionally, physically and psychologically."

The packet of documents released by the World Bank included new details about Wolfowitz's involvement in Riza's job transfer.

Two months after arriving at the bank on June 1, 2005, Wolfowitz sent a memo to the bank's vice president of human resources, laying out details concerning Riza's employment and compensation.

"I now direct you to agree to a proposal which includes the following terms and conditions," Wolfowitz instructed. "You should accept immediately her offer to be detailed to an outside institution of her choosing, while retaining bank salary and benefits."

The Wolfowitz memo went on say that Riza should receive a promotion, draw a salary of $180,000 and get annual pay increases of 8 percent.

Before the job change, Riza was believed to be getting paid close to $133,000. After the transfer, she received $193,590, according to the Government Accountability Project, a watchdog group.