The World Bank Is Supposed to Help the Poor. So Why Is it Bankrolling Oligarchs? Mother Jones
In recent years, [Malaysian billionaire Robert] Kuok has teamed up with a far more respectable business partner to expand his chain of luxury hotels and resorts throughout Asia: the International Finance Corporation. A branch of the World Bank, the IFC finances the private sector in developing countries, via loans and direct investments, to help meet the bank’s goals of ending extreme poverty and “boosting shared prosperity.” In 2009, the IFC invested $50 million in the construction of a 142-villa Shangri-La resort in the Maldives. In 2012, it sank another $50 million into Kuok’s new five-star hotel in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. And in 2014, the IFC signed off on an $80 million investment in Kuok’s Burma properties that backed the construction of the luxury apartment complex and a makeover at the Rangoon hotel he built with Law. It was the IFC’s largest investment in Burma to date.
The IFC is a moneymaker for the rest of the World Bank, handing over hundreds of millions of dollars annually to the bank’s International Development Association fund for the “poorest” countries. But in its pursuit of profits, the IFC has at times partnered with controversial oligarchs and made investments that, while contributing to its balance sheet, are of questionable benefit to the people it is supposed to be lifting out of poverty. And, says the former World Bank staffer, “there are examples of IFC making people worse off.”