Diana Marszalek 31 Jul 2023 // 5:30AM GMT
TORONTO — Industry veteran Bob Pickard, who resigned from his role as global comms head for Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, has described an AIIB report refuting his allegations that the bank is tied to the Communist Party as “a despicable pack of lies.”
“They set up a kangaroo court and I refused to participate, said Pickard, who abruptly left China in June, saying that "reality of power in the bank is that it’s CCP from start to finish and, as “a patriotic Canadian, this was my only course.”
AIIB’s report, issued earlier this month, said that an internal review found “no evidence” that the bank is unduly influenced by the CCP, and that the multilateral development bank’s governance structure is working in keeping it independent.
The report also dismissed Pickard’s charges of AIIB having a “toxic culture,” instead pointing to the effects of Pickard’s alleged “managerial shortcomings and interpersonal conflicts.” Pickard responded, saying those conflicts “were between me and the Communist Party members whose excessive influence I challenged.”
Pickard said that, given there was no outside counsel, there’s little credibility to “the completely dishonest report of theirs,” and that he expects the Canadian government, which is currently investigating Pickard’s charges, will reveal “credible findings.”
Canada has suspended its work with AIIB while it investigates Pickard’s grievances. Australia, Germany, France and the UK also are AIIB member governments (the US is not).
Pickard joined AIIB in March 2022 after what he said was due diligence into the bank’s independence and operations and “signed up to create an awareness for what I thought was a misunderstood organization.”
Pickard has a long history in Asia, where he spent more than a decade as an agency leader.
Before joining AIIB, Pickard ran his own Toronto consultancy, Signal Leadership Communication, which focuses on executive communications. That includes working with CEOs thrust into the public spotlight.
Pickard, who has more than two decades of experience, also had a brief stint as National’s Toronto managing director.
Before launching Signal served as chairman of Huntsworth Asia-Pacific. Pickard spent 18 months at Huntsworth, which he joined after serving as Burson-Marsteller Asia-Pacific CEO for three years. Before Burson, Pickard spent more than six years with Edelman in North Asia, running its office in Korea and launching the firm in Japan before overseeing the sub-region. He relocated to Asia after being one of the founding partners of Canada's Environics Communications