New Zealand ‘concerned’ by AIIB whistleblower’s claims
WELLINGTON -New Zealand on Friday expressed concern about a whistleblower’s claims that China’s ruling party pulls the strings at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, saying it would “monitor” investigations into the matter.
“New Zealand is concerned by the claims made,” the Treasury department told AFP, after a Canadian executive resigned while claiming the lender is used to serve Beijing’s “geopolitical goals”.
Bob Pickard, a former communications chief at the bank, told AFP on Thursday that the AIIB directed lending primarily to countries targeted by China’s massive and controversial Belt and Road Initiative.
He also alleged foreign executives on the board were there for “window-dressing”.
Inside the bank, “there’s a parallel system, it’s adjacent to the public-decision making structure”, he said.
In a statement, AIIB called Pickard’s allegations “baseless and disappointing”.
New Zealand was among the first Western nations to join the bank in 2015, and has backed efforts to finance projects that raise standards of living in the Asia-Pacific.
Then prime minister John Key said New Zealand made the decision after it was satisfied the bank had adequate “governance procedures” in place.
Wellington continues to have close commercial ties with Beijing, with current Prime Minister Chris Hipkins expected to visit China later this month on a multi-stop trade mission.
But allegations that the bank may be used as a political tool have sparked unease.
“As a member, New Zealand prioritizes an open, diverse and inclusive working environment at the bank,” the Treasury said. “We also prioritize diversity of membership and independence of the AIIB.”
The department added that “from what we have previously observed the bank fulfils this criteria and is genuinely multilateral”.
“New Zealand is concerned by the claims made. We will monitor Canada’s investigation and AIIB’s own investigation and consider new information as it becomes available.”