AIIB report rejects former Canadian employee’s ‘unsubstantiated, incorrect’ claims
Western smear against bank won’t undermine its success: expert
Published: Jul 07, 2023 08:09 PM


The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on Friday released an extensive report of an internal review into allegations made by a former employee, a Canadian national, calling the allegations "unsubstantiated and incorrect."  

The report shows once again that some in the West, with the help of their media and even politicians, seek to smear China and everything related to the country with baseless claims, experts said, adding that such slanders will not derail the multilateral bank's and China's development.  

The 36-page report concluded that the bank follows the highest standards of multilateral governance, that its governance is functioning as intended, and that there was no evidence of undue influence on decisions taken by the board of directors or management.

The internal review was conducted after AIIB's former global communications director Bob Pickard made a series of allegations against the multilateral bank, including the claim that the bank is "dominated" by the Communist Party of China (CPC).

The AIIB report said that the allegations which questioned the integrity of the bank's governance and alleged the bank is unduly and improperly influenced by the CPC were cast in broad terms and no evidence was provided to substantiate them. 

The report also highlighted the fact that there have never been allegations of political influence in the governance of policy and strategy discussions and decision, and found no evidence to question the fact that the bank's approach to project approval is apolitical. It also noted that the review found no evidence that staff membership in any political party from any country has interfered with the bank personnel's discharge of official duties.

"The internal review found no evidence to support or validate the former Director General of Communications' allegations," said the bank's general counsel Alberto Ninio in a press release. "The internal review confirms that AIIB's governance structure functions as intended to deliver an apolitical, constructive, balanced and consensus-oriented decision culture," Ninio said. 

The AIIB report noted that Pickard resigned on June 12, 2023 and left China later on June 14. He cited safety concerns as reasons for abruptly leaving China despite his having bank immunity during his tenure with the AIIB. The review did not find or receive evidence of a safety risk posed to Pickard nor did it find any evidence that he had requested the AIIB's assistance to ensure his safety during his employment with the bank. 

Following Pickard's remarks in June, Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said that the Canadian government will immediately halt all government-led activity at the bank, and she has instructed the Department of Finance to lead an immediate review of the allegations raised and of Canada's involvement in the AIIB, according to an official statement. 

Chinese experts slammed the allegations, adding that some Western countries are now using the smear against China as a tool to pursue their goal of "de-risking" from the country amid its rapid progress. 

Some Western forces and media will just oppose any initiatives proposed by China, as the smear serves to construct a global supply chain amid a process of de-sinicization and allows the US to restructure a system of globalization especially for the global supply chain and industrial chain, Wang Yiwei, an international relations professor at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Friday.

The AIIB has been affected, as it is headquartered in China, which is also the bank's largest shareholder, Wang said. He added that the bank is an international financial institution and is not a Chinese bank, stressing that AIIB's core value of Lean, Clean and Green has been recognized for its high standards and its credit ratings have remained in the top-tier for years. 

China has been taking the initiative to participate in the establishment of global and regional institutions like AIIB, which have assisted multiple developing countries to meet their development demands with tangible benefits, Song Wei, a professor at the School of International Relations and Diplomacy at Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times on Friday.

Song added that the achievements made have also caused some Western countries to further hype against China from a geopolitical perspective, especially amid the nation's growing international strength and competitiveness.

Following the internal review, AIIB's report also identified recommendations in response to issues raised during its work, including strengthening its pre-recruitment screening processes, especially for leadership positions; improving the functioning of staff grievance mechanisms; and various initiatives to further strengthen the Bank's corporate culture.

AIIB's commitment to transparency, integrity, and accountability remains resolute, according to the bank. "While we sought to quickly respond to recent events, AIIB's commitment to our mission remains steadfast," said the bank's president Jin Liqun.

AIIB began operations in January 2016 with the mission of financing infrastructure with sustainability at its core. As of the end of April this year, AIIB has approved a total of 212 projects amounting to over $40 billion in 33 member countries, which have contributed to economic development and improved the quality of life for communities in beneficiary countries, official data showed.