Wolfowitz was told he will be able to meet the board on May 15 "to communicate his views in person, if he wishes to do so". 

 

"They will then consider all the information available and reach their decisions", the statement said.

 

Noisy protest

 

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"Wolfowitz must resign because... his act of favouritism for personal interest was wrong"

Ibby, Mumbai, India

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Bank rules prohibit managers from supervising employees with whom they have a close personal relationship.

  

A protest organised on Wednesday outside the bank's headquarters brought together four demonstrators who chanted ""no more gifts for your honey, no more stealing the poor's money".

 

France on Wednesday indicated it wanted the matter to be settled sooner rather than later.

 

Jean-Baptiste Mattei, a foreign ministry spokesman, said: "We would like the board to meet swiftly to issue its evaluation of the report, and for Mr Wolfowitz to make any observations he wishes to make.

  

"Our concern is to ensure the World Bank's proper functioning, in the context of its mission in favour of development and the fight against poverty," he said.

  

On Tuesday, Wouter Bos, the Dutch fnance minister, said that the investigatory panel's report was putting more pressure on Wolfowitz to resign.

  

And Didier Reynders, the Belgian finance minister, said the scandal was undermining the six-decade-old bank.

  

"It's impossible to go everywhere in the world to speak about good governance and not to have good governance in the World Bank,"  Reynders said.