Ngozi's curious Renaissance
But at almost the same time, something else curious has happened too. And it worries us. A couple of days before her World Bank appointment she was made chairwoman of the African and Nigerian advisory boards of the Moscow-based financial services group Renaissance Group. Renaissance says it is
an independent group of investment banking, asset management, merchant banking and consumer finance companies, specializing in high-opportunity emerging markets. Renaissance Group operates in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Cyprus, Sub-Saharan Africa, the British Virgin Islands, Switzerland and Bermuda.
Most of those places are tax havens. And here is something else. Ngozi is an adviser on, and has been a key driver behind, the World Bank's recently launched Stolen Assets Recovery (StAR) initiative -- which for the first time appeared to put the issue of tax evasion and tax havens firmly on the Bank's agenda for the first time. So what is Ngozi doing stepping into the world of tax havens, hand-in-hand with Renaissance? From where we are sitting, this looks like a serious conflict of interest. Perhaps there is an innocent explanation. We look forward to this explanation from Ms. Ngozi and from the World Bank.