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Did Paul Wolfowitz lose his job as president of the World Bank because he didn’t listen to its top lawyer? Roberto Da�ino, the bank’s former general counsel, thinks so. Da�ino says that Wolfowitz prevented him from reviewing an employment contract for the president’s girlfriend that was more lavish than what the bank’s ethics committee had actually approved. Had he seen the contract, Da�ino says, he would have sent it back for revision, and Wolfowitz might have held onto his job. “I tell my children all the time: When you make a mistake, it’s not so much the mistake you make [that counts], but how you react to your mistake,” Da�ino says. “If [Wolfowitz] had reacted different than what he did, this would have blown away.” Da�ino spoke with Corporate Counsel — an affiliate of Legal Times — last week in his first media interview since leaving the World Bank in January 2006. On May 17 the bank’s board of executive directors announced that Wolfowitz will step down at the end of June. It has been a stormy tenure. When he took the job in March 2005, the World Bank already employed Shaha Riza, a Middle East specialist and Wolfowitz’s girlfriend. Ex-GC Da�ino says he told Wolfowitz’s personal lawyers that, under bank rules, Riza and the new leader could not have professional contact. Unhappy with Da�ino’s advice, Wolfowitz took the matter to the board’s ethics committee. The committee, after consulting with Da�ino, worked out a deal in which Riza would be transferred to a job at the State Department for the duration of Wolfowitz’s presidency. But Wolfowitz subsequently negotiated additional perks into Riza’s contract that the committee hadn’t endorsed: a 28 percent pay boost and hefty annual raises, as well as a guaranteed promotion upon her return to the bank. Neither the committee nor Da�ino was informed of these developments, according to an interview with the chair of the ethics committee that is posted on the World Bank Web site. Da�ino says that if he’d known that Wolfowitz had negotiated a richer package for his girlfriend, “I would have had [the matter] brought back to the ethics committee.” Wolfowitz’s attorney, Robert Bennett of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, did not respond to requests for comment.
David Hechler is a reporter for Corporate Counsel , an ALM publication where a version of this article first appeared.

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