New Report Adds to Conflict of Interest Concerns Surrounding BlackRock’s Advisory Role in Trudeau’s Canada Infrastructure Bank

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 27, 2018

Contact: Daniel Stevens, dstevens@campaignforaccountability.org, 202.780.5750

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (“CfA”), a nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog group focused on public accountability, released a new report detailing how BlackRock – the world’s largest asset manager – appears to have been intimately involved not only in advising the Trudeau government about the creation of its Canada Infrastructure Bank, a government-backed financial institution championed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but also in the government’s appointment of key Bank personnel and staff.

The new revelations add to the growing conflict of interest concerns surrounding the Bank’s creation and provide new evidence for those calling for a full investigation of BlackRock’s advisory role with the Trudeau government.

Read the report here.

CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens said, “BlackRock stands to benefit substantially from the Canada Infrastructure Bank. Unsurprisingly, BlackRock worked behind the scenes to get the Bank up and running and staffed with friendly executives. Canadian taxpayers ought to be asking themselves whether the Bank is really going to benefit them or BlackRock’s clients.”

CfA Advisor Josh Rosner added, “BlackRock’s size, its “One BlackRock” approach, its Aladdin platform, and its global political reach have created an extra-national power that has imbedded conflicts of interest which increasingly force it to choose between its fiduciary obligations to investors, the sound corporate governance of corporations in which it invests, and the public policy goals of the governments it advises. For governments, these conflicts will ultimately force them to choose between the funding of long-term uneconomic infrastructure deals or losses to pension investors.”

CfA’s new analysis of key hires at the Bank shows that BlackRock executives, many of whom left government service for lucrative BlackRock jobs, may have had considerable influence over key staffing choices. Both the Chair and the CEO of the Canada Infrastructure Bank have close ties to BlackRock executives, and one of the Bank’s special advisors, Jim Leech, also has a close personal tie to a key BlackRock executive advising the government on the Bank’s creation.

Prime Minister Trudeau promised to develop the Canada Infrastructure Bank to provide low cost financing for infrastructure projects in local communities, using a combination of public and private funds. BlackRock, however, appears to have guided the Bank’s development to suit its own purposes.  Last year, Canadian news outlets revealed that Trudeau’s government consulted with BlackRock extensively about the $35 billion initiative, even as BlackRock stood to reap massive returns by investing in infrastructure through the Bank.

CfA’s analysis shows BlackRock worked through established institutions to promote the Bank. BlackRock’s Global Head of Active Equities, Mark Wiseman, was a member of Trudeau’s “Advisory Council on Economic Growth,” which published a report endorsing creation of the Bank in October 2016 – despite the clear conflict of interest.

Furthermore, BlackRock appears to have provided funding to one of the most influential think tanks in Canada, the C.D. Howe Institute, to provide intellectual credibility for the Bank through a series of white papers and studies endorsing the concept. Prior to BlackRock’s involvement, the Institute had published only one paper about infrastructure banks, and it was mildly critical of the idea. After BlackRock began contributing financially – and after BlackRock’s top executive in Canada, Marcia Moffat, joined the board of the Institute in 2017 – the think tank began publishing papers in favor of establishing an infrastructure bank.

BlackRock executives who previously served in the Canadian government also worked directly with Trudeau officials to help pitch BlackRock clients and other investors about the benefits of investing in the new Bank. Prime Minister Trudeau continues to meet frequently with BlackRock executives to attract investment in Canadian infrastructure.

Stevens continued, “The cozy relationship between BlackRock and the Canada Infrastructure Bank threatens the Bank’s independence and raises concerns about who is benefitting from the Bank. Canadians should be able to finance their infrastructure projects without the influence of the world’s largest asset manager.”

Campaign for Accountability is nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.