Magazine article Insight on the News

Treasury Czar Key to MDB Reform Efforts. (the Watchers)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Treasury Czar Key to MDB Reform Efforts. (the Watchers)

Article excerpt

Amid growing scrutiny arising from various corruption scandals affecting the multilateral development banks (MDBs), the role of a powerful Treasury Department official appears to be central for the future of these U.S. taxpayer-supported institutions. William E. Schuerch, deputy assistant secretary for international development, debt and environmental policy, is something of an anomaly at Treasury, observers say--a Democrat-holdover with one of the department's premier slots dealing with global finance. Schuerch exercises day-to-day control over nearly 20 percent of the voting shares of the World Bank's board of governors, and is a key player in deciding who is chosen as senior staff at the multibillion-dollar institution. He plays similar roles at the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other sister institutions.

A consummate Washington insider and 14-year veteran of the professional staff of the House Appropriations Committee, Schuerch also held senior posts at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in the early 1990s. His Rolodex is said to contain a virtual "who's who" of the international-finance community, and this hardball practitioner of realpolitik is admired for remembering names and for rewarding those who best defend U.S. policy choices as he understands them.

The problem, reform advocates allege, is that Schuerch selectively enforces the rules. For example, in a move applauded by the reform community, he opposed one high-profile project in which communist China was about to violate international and MDB standards for development. …

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