AIIB's Jin Opens Up on Ethics, Graft and His Grandma's Advice

  • 108-year-old grandmother influenced Jin's thinking on graft
  • Ethics committee to oversee staff from Jin to rank and file

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank President-Designate Jin Liqun opened up on why his staff have only three-year contracts, details of an ethics committee to monitor the organization, and how his views were shaped by his 108-year old grandmother, in a speech in Beijing Tuesday.

Jin, who worked previously at the World Bank and Asian Development Bank on China’s behalf, said the new multilateral lender would be "squeaky clean." He outlined plans to ensure that goal and recalled how his grandmother had influenced his thinking on graft when he joined the World Bank.

Jin Liqun
Jin Liqun
Photographer: Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg

"She said, ‘My grandson, from now on you have two pockets: one is the public pocket the other is the private pocket,’" Jin said. "‘Don’t move a single cent from the public pocket to the private pocket.’ I never forget about her words.’"

Jin spoke at a European Union Chamber of Commerce conference in Beijing.

Steps to keep the AIIB clean will include an ethics committee that will oversee staff from Jin down to the rank and file, he said. It will report to the bank’s board and its head cannot be removed by the president "without rhyme or reason," he said. The committee’s head should not be Chinese because it would give the wrong perception, he said.

AIIB staff will work on three-year contracts to ensure they perform, Jin said, emphasizing that he reads every policy paper produced by the new bank to set an example of being a hard worker. The lender will be "mean" on budgets with no staff in redundant positions.

"We don’t give you an iron rice bowl," he said. "If you perform, you stay. If you don’t perform, your position is gone. So take the risk. If you want to join you have to work very hard."

Even though there is no risk the AIIB will start a race to the bottom for standards on development institutions, Jin said foreign concerns over China’s plans for the new lender have been sometimes harsh and even hostile.

"We were very calm and serene," he said. "We are very patient. For a Chinese nation with 5,000 years of civilization, patience is no problem."

Thirty nations are now lining up to join the bank as members and it has more than 50 applications for positions as vice presidents, Jin said.

— With assistance by Kevin Hamlin

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