AIIB chief vows to run clean, lean, green institution

AIIB chief vows to run clean, lean, green institution

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will be a 21st-century multilateral lender with rigorous corporate culture, its first president said on Sunday.

It will have a "lean staff" and will strive to avoid red tape, according to Jin Liqun.

Jin, making his debut appearance as the bank's president, said at a news conference that he envisions a bank that is "clean, lean and green".

It will combine the merits of existing multilateral development banks and competitive private companies, he said.

"I'm committed to running the bank according to the highest possible standards and according to the principles outlined in the articles of agreement - transparency, openness, accountability and independence," said Jin, who spoke in English.

He vowed to set a "clear division of responsibility" between the bank's board and management, saying there will be a special unit on compliance, effectiveness and integrity, which will exercise oversight of the management and report directly to the board.

To fulfil the "lean" commitment, staff members in the bank's first year will only be increased to between 100 and 150. The initial staffing level is 50.

Referring to the "clean" commitment, Jin said implementation of this is crucial.

"It is important that you don't just have something brilliant on paper, it is important to implement it. ... As president of the bank, I will ensure that the oversight mechanism is implemented without any compromise."

He said he is planning for the first loans to be approved before the end of this year. The scale of loans in the first year will be modest - between US$500 million (S$720 million) and US$1.2 billion - with energy, power, transportation, rural infrastructure, environmental protection and logistics the priorities.

The bank has been working closely with the World Bank Group, the Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to identify possible co-financing projects, Jin said.

"We already have a very good project pipeline, including co-financing projects and standalone projects vetted by our own professionals. We are also open to other partners in the private sector," he said.

But he also said that "just preparing these pipelines and making the loans" is not the most important aspect for a bank in its initial stages. It is "far more important" for the first president to set the stage by building a corporate culture that holds employees accountable.

An environmental and social framework is among the core policies in the making.

World Bank veteran Stephen F. Lintner has led the drafting of a paper on this.

Impressive CV

Jin Liqun, the AIIB president, graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University as an English-language major before joining the Ministry of Finance and being sent to the World Bank Group in the 1980s as an alternate executive director for China.

He was appointed vice-minister of finance in 1998 and was named as vice-president of the Asian Development Bank in 2003.

In 2008, he became chairman of the board of supervisors at China Investment Corp, working closely with Lou Jiwei, the current finance minister. The two played a significant role in running the sovereign wealth fund of the world's second-largest economy with the largest foreign exchange reserves.

Jin became chairman of China International Capital Corp in 2013, entering investment banking and securities.

Fluent in English and French, he is described by his peers as "experienced, savvy and pragmatic". He is also an enthusiast of Chinese classic literature.

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