Today, at a full Committee hearing with U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin entitled, “The Annual Testimony of the Secretary of the Treasury on the State of the International Financial System,” Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, gave the following opening statement:
Today, this Committee convenes for a hearing to receive the annual testimony of the Secretary of the Treasury on the State of the International Financial System.
I’d like to start by talking about the International Development Association, or IDA, which is the arm of the World Bank that provides grants and highly concessional loans to the world’s poorest countries. I’m concerned that IDA, through its new Private Sector Window (PSW), today is transferring $2.5 billion to the World Bank’s private-sector investment arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and is subsidizing private firms selected without competition on the basis of unsolicited proposals. The PSW is likely to prioritize financial returns over positive development impacts, which will be difficult to monitor. The PSW also stands in conflict with the World Bank’s own principles that call for subsidies to be justified, transparent, competitively based, focused on impact, and guarded against rent-seeking opportunities.
So, my message to Treasury and to the World Bank is that unless these transfers stop, or at a minimum are competitively based and fully transparent down to the amounts and purpose of aid going to which firms and projects, the Administration’s request for Congress to authorize the IFC’s general capital increase will not be a Committee priority.
Now I’d like to turn to Treasury’s implementation of U.S. sanctions.
The Secretary also must provide this Committee with complete answers today regarding the Treasury Department’s actions to delist companies associated with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska is a criminal and Vladimir Putin’s confidant who should not be let off the hook from sanctions that were put in place to punish bad actors. I am very concerned that the delisting agreement that Treasury implemented sends exactly the wrong message to Deripaska, other Russian oligarchs, and Putin himself because Deripaska will still wield a great deal of influence over his previously sanctioned companies.
Trump has shown a deference to and a fondness for Vladimir Putin, including at the Helsinki summit last summer, when Trump inexplicably sided with Putin over his own Justice Department when the FBI indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Very troublingly, it appears that this dynamic may be affecting sanctions policy, with the Trump Administration’s Treasury Department enabling Russian bad actors like Deripaska to evade sanctions. Moreover, Congress mandated several sanctions to be placed on Russia that Treasury has still not implemented, including sanctions required by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Act that the Administration had a statutory deadline to impose by last November.
So Secretary Mnuchin must explain these decisions in his public testimony today and address several other important issues.
I expect you to be forthcoming with this Committee. I also understand that despite our efforts to accommodate your schedule, you have now made another engagement this evening. This is unacceptable. If you are unwilling to stay today for the full duration of this hearing, the Committee will compel your return for multiple additional hearings in the month of May.
So now, the Chair recognizes the Ranking Member of the Committee, the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. McHenry, for five minutes for an opening statement.