A senior ex-employee’s allegation that the Chinese Communist Party has undue influence within the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is “without any foundation”, Danny Alexander, an AIIB vice president, told Reuters.
Bob Pickard, the AIIB’s former chief of communications said in June that he had quit the bank as it was “dominated by Communist Party” members and had a “toxic culture”.
The AIIB, which dismissed the allegation as baseless at the time, on Friday published the findings of an internal review, which it said “confirms that AIIB’s governance structure functions as intended, to deliver an apolitical, constructive, balanced and consensus-oriented decision culture”.
“Mr Pickard’s allegations have been exhausted through this review … and found to be without any foundation whatsoever,” Alexander, who is the AIIB’s vice president for policy and strategy, said in an interview.
When asked for comment on the review, Pickard said: “I do not believe this dishonest and inaccurate report seriously investigated my core concern of Communist Party influence.”
He said he had raised his concerns over the party’s influence with AIIB’s president, Jin Liqun, who said this year the bank would not get dragged into political disputes.
Set up by President Xi Jinping in 2016 as a Chinese alternative to the World Bank and other Western-led multilateral lenders, the AIIB has 106 members worldwide, including Pickard’s home nation of Canada, which began its own inquiry.
“We have a direct relationship with the People’s Republic of China as a shareholder, just as we do with the United Kingdom or Canada,” Alexander said when asked about the AIIB’s relationship with Beijing, which he added was the same as its ties with the British or Canadian governments.
“We regard Canada as an important member of our bank… we look forward to the outcome of their own review and working with them for many years to come,” he added.
The Canadian government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The AIIB said its review uncovered one instance of Pickard referring to another staff member as belonging to the Communist Party, adding that this featured in an instant message exchange with an officer in the president’s office.
Pickard said there were errors in the report, which included a failure to mention an email he sent in which he raised his concerns about his safety as a Canadian national.
“There have never been allegations of political influence on the governance and policy or strategy discussions and decisions,” the AIIB report concluded.