Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US Treasury official and Trump backer Malpass named World Bank president

US Treasury official and Trump backer Malpass named World Bank president

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
US Treasury official and Trump backer Malpass was unanimously chosen on Friday as the next president of the World Bank. AFP

US Treasury official and Trump backer Malpass named World Bank president

Treasury official and staunch supporter of US President Donald Trump, was unanimously chosen on Friday as the next president of the World Bank.

The 63-year-old has been a strident critic of global financial institutions, calling their lending practices “corrupt” and ineffective, and complaining they are overly generous to China.

Malpass – who has softened his message since being tapped to lead the World Bank – begins his five-year term on Tuesday, replacing former President Jim Yong Kim, whose surprise departure came not even halfway through his second term.

The announcement came as expected just prior to next week’s joint spring meetings of the World Bank and the IMF.

The bank said in a statement that Malpass’ selection by the board of directors followed an “open, transparent” nomination process in which citizens of all membership countries were potentially eligible.

But since the bank’s creation following World War II, all of its presidents have been US men, following an unwritten rule that also ensures European leadership at the top of its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund.

The US Treasury official in charge of international affairs, Malpass had been the lone candidate for the World Bank job and his nomination by Trump earlier this year sparked outrage among critics, who saw it as an affront to the global anti-poverty lender’s very mission.

Malpass now emphasises he is committed to the bank’s mission of eliminating extreme poverty, however, and that reforms enacted last year as part of a $13 billion capital increase addressed many of his criticisms.

In an open letter to bank staff on Friday, Malpass said the bank’s mission was “more urgent than ever”, adding that he had “listened carefully” in recent meetings with staff, board members and other stake holders.

In recent years, emerging market countries have challenged the unwritten arrangement on World Bank and IMF leadership, demanding a more open, merit-based selection process.

The bank has been at pains to stress that it has heard such criticisms and now allows a more open process. But the few non-US candidates in recent years have received little support from major bank shareholders. Many, including former Treasury officials from both political parties, have sharply criticised Malpass and his qualifications.

They pointed to his failure to foresee the 2008 global financial crisis during his time at the now-defunct investment bank Bear Stearns and his opposition, which later proved unjustified, to post-crisis Federal Reserve policies.

Malpass previously also held a senior role in the US State Department for Latin American affairs.

In a statement, US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser who has spearheaded a bank campaign for women entrepreneurs, both congratulated Malpass, citing what they called a commitment to poverty reduction in his career.

Mnuchin called Malpass “an ideal fit” to lead the bank while Trump said she believed he would be “an extraordinary leader”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants