Report on Attali will not be censored

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The Independent Online
A ROW inside the audit committee of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development over whether to censor a report on Jacques Attali's management of the organisation appears to have been resolved in favour of full publication, writes Peter Rodgers.

Senior members of the seven- strong committee were angered at attempts by a majority of colleagues to leave out some of the most embarrassing discoveries about Mr Attali's use of bank facilities.

In the latest revelations, Mr Attali appears to have put pounds 20,000 of expenses, a large part of them night club charges, on an EBRD credit card. Sources in the bank said the expenses were for entertaining legitimate clients, and many businessmen also used night clubs for the same purpose, so there was nothing out of the ordinary in what occurred.

But although Mr Attali argued that the expenses were on business, he eventually reimbursed the bank.

Some members of the committee argued that disclosures of this type were peripheral to the bank's activities and would undermine attempts to restore morale. But the rebels made the point that any attempt to conceal was bound to be undermined by later disclosures, since the Bank has been notoriously leaky.

Nevertheless, the committee will not publish all the documents it has examined because there are too many. Officials are paring the report down in the hope of publication next Thursday. One said: 'It is a question of how much paper we can sensibly produce. All the essential information will be in there.'

The report's contents will influence the EBRD board's decision on whether to pay Mr Attali a year's salary in compensation for losing his job, worth pounds 147,000 tax-free.

The audit committee is chaired by Claes d'Niergaard of Sweden. Other members include Giuseppi Maresca of Italy, Don McCutchan of Canada and Antoine van Goethem, the European Community representative.