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Joana Custoias

Senior Counsel

Joana Custoias

Joana Custoias joined ADB as Counsel in 2020, where she provides legal expertise to support the sovereign operations of the Pacific and South Asia Regional Departments. With a focus on Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations (FCAS) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Joana serves as the knowledge focal point within the Office of the General Counsel (OGC). Her role involves participating in multiple desk reviews and knowledge-sharing initiatives, all aimed at enhancing ADB’s capacity to respond effectively to the financing needs of its most vulnerable developing member countries. 

In addition to her FCAS and SIDS responsibilities, Joana represents OGC in the Working and Technical Groups for the 2024 Country Performance Exercise. This critical corporate exercise determines concessional resource allocations for 27 eligible developing member countries. 

A committed development professional, Joana brings over 8 years of in-country experience to her role. Prior to joining ADB, she worked as an international lawyer, providing legal and policy advice across a range of private sector and financial sector development matters in Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Notably, Joana managed regulatory and governance aspects during the transition of a microfinance institution into a full-fledged commercial bank in Timor-Leste. She also played a key role in various corporate law reforms aimed at improving the business environment. As a Senior Project Manager of the World Bank Group, Joana contributed to the implementation of an upgraded securities settlement infrastructure by the Bank of Papua New Guinea. This initiative aimed to develop debt capital markets and facilitate long-term funding access.

 Joana completed her Law degree from the Nova University of Lisbon, Portugal, in 2007. She furthered her education with a postgraduate degree in Business Law and Finance from Lisbon University Institute, Portugal, in 2010, and completed the Singapore Academy of International Law (CIL eAcademy), organized by the Centre for International Law of the National University of Singapore, in 2023. She was admitted to the Portuguese Bar Association in 2011, and in the Council for Management and Discipline of Legal Practitioners of Timor-Leste in 2012.