By: Greg Staley
Written On: 2021-06-10
Justin Trudeau’s government is giving a total of $200 million to the Asian Development Bank to make investments through their “Canadian Climate Fund for the Private Sector in Asia II.” The funding began in 2016 and is committed until the 2041-42 fiscal year. According to the ADB, the program was “designed to support greater private sector participation in climate change mitigation and adaptation” and that the funds also seek to promote “gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls” in the projects supported by the fund.
The agreement, allows the Asian Development Bank to use the money to offer financing on concessional terms (some grants and some loans) and to provide that concessional financing in the form of senior loans, subordinated loans and risk participations. In time they are supposed to pay back the money to Global Affairs Canada – the federal government institution through which it was lent.
Projects That Have Received Funding Under the Program
The following is a list of all the projects that have been funded under this program so far.
- Afghanistan: Kandahar Solar Power Project
- Bangladesh: Spectra Solar Power Project
- Cambodia: Prime Road National Solar Park Project
- Indonesia: Eastern Indonesia Renewable Energy Phase 1
- Indonesia: Eastern Indonesia Renewable Energy Phase 2
- Nepal: Upper Trishuli-1 Hydropower Project
- Uzbekistan: Navoi Solar Power Project
- Viet Nam: Floating Solar Project
It Gets Weirder – The Aga Khan Connection
The Aga Khan scandal rocked the political world in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a vacation on a private island and received gifts from a billionaire who is registered to lobby the federal government. Of course, it is a big deal to take gifts from someone who lobbies’s your government for money as it can create a relationship between the two parties and lead to preferential treatment – something that can’t be allowed if we want uncorrupted political representation. It matters because these types of “gifts” create the perception that is summarized by the old saying “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”
It can be debated whether or not giving $200 million to a foreign development bank is in the best interest of Canadians (I would argue it isn’t) but if we do give sums of money like this away – we should at least make sure there is no perception of a conflict of interest. That’s where the issue of a potential conflict of interest (in my opinion) arises with the AKDF. Clearly, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a relationship with the Khan, even calling him a “personal family friend.” So, it naturally raised some alarm bells for me to discover that the ADB was partnered with the AKDF and that the trustees assigned to these projects that the Canadian taxpayer was supporting all seemed to have an intertwined past with the Aga Khan’s various foundations.
Connecting the Dots
The memorandum says that the two organizations will “explore the additional potential of co-financing private sector investments” together and that they will “explore options for utilizing established trust funds to achieve joint priorities.” If you ask me, using trust funds to support “joint priorities” is anything but an arms length relationship.
Asian Development Bank Trustees
Below is a run down of all the connections to the Aga Khan’s various foundations that are now trustees of the funding received from this program.
Hashimi, Mohammed Azim – Worked as economist for the Aga Khan foundation from 1997-98. He is the trustee of the Kandahar Solar Power Plant.
Tariq, Samia – Worked for BRAC Bank from 2009 until 2012. BRAC bank has partnered with “The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED).” The BRAC Bank signed an agreement with AKFED to allow BRAC to obtain an equity stake in the Industrial Promotion Development Company of Bangladesh Limited (IPDC). She is the trustee of the Spectra Solar Power Project.
Hong, Won Myong – Vice President of CITI investment banking division. CITI bank has a foundation called the “CITI foundation” which is listed as a partner on the Aga Khan Development Fund Partner page. She is the trustee of the Prime Road National Solar Park Project in Cambodia.
Khawaja, Haroun Ahmed – Used to work at KPMG accounting – a worldwide accounting firm who has numerous employees who have volunteered or are now working for high level positions with the Aga Khan Foundation. For instance, Farah Bundeali, who is a partner of consumer markets at KPMG has volunteer experience with the Khan. She volunteers as the chair of the world partnership of Golf Toronto for the Aga Khan foundation. Another example found on LinkedIn is Altaf B. who is listed as a senior manager of operations at the Aga Khan Development Network and who also happens to have worked as a financial analyst for KPMG years prior.
This pattern is repeated and as you can see in the picture below the KPMG appears to be involved with the Aga Khan network. Ahmed is the trustee of the Navoi Solar Power Project in Uzbekistan.
Nath, Kiron – Worked at Tata Capital for a year and 6 months from Mar. 2008 – Aug. 2009. Tata capital owns 3.74% of the shares in the Aga Khan’s Fund for Economic Development (AKFED). This again is another one of the individuals who is a trustee overseeing the project money. Kiron is the trustee of the Eastern Indonesia Renewable Energy Project (phase 1 and 2) and the Floating Solar Energy Project in Vietnam.
Uy, Christine Genalin – Worked for Citibank in Manilla. Again Citi bank has a foundation with ties to the Aga Khan. She is the trustee of the Upper Trishuli-1 Hydropower Project.
Now, these relationships aren’t indicative of wrongdoing. However, I point them out to say that this doesn’t pass the sniff test. The AKDF openly admits to being partnered with the Asian Development Bank but that’s not where the potential conflict of interest is. The potential conflict of interest lies in the fact that they’ve partnered with and share a memorandum of understanding with the ADB that may include the possibility of investments together. Then we add our observation that the trustees assigned to allocate these funds appear to have an intertwined past with the Khan and his organizations. Then, just to finish it off we add onto that the Prime Minister was found guilty by the ethics commissioner for taking a vacation on the Khan’s private island and that the Khan’s organizations actively lobby the government and you get some very murky waters.
To me, this is just another example of how the elite are connected and how they work the system in their favour.
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