The President of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr Hyginus ‘Gene’ Leon, has been sent on administrative leave until April this year, as “an ongoing administrative process” continues at the region’s premier financial institution.
Well placed sources told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that Leon’s computer and tablet have been seized and are questioning how the board of directors could have taken a decision against the bank’s president “without the knowledge of the board of Governors.
“The President is the highest ranking official in the bank appointed by the Board of Governors and the board has not been made aware of the situation at the bank,” the sources told the CMC, adding “the question is how is this possible for a lower body which is the board of directors to send the highest member of the bank without informing the Board of Governors”.
According to CDB website, the Board of Directors is responsible for the general policy and direction of the operations of CDB.
“The Board takes decisions concerning loans, guarantees and other investments by CDB, borrowing programmes, technical assistance and other operations of the Bank. It also approves the administrative budget of the Bank and submits accounts for each financial year for approval by the Board of Governors.
“It appoints the Oversight and Assurance Committee, consisting of five of its members, for a term of two years with the option to renew for a further two years. The Board comprises 14 Directors who represent the regional members of CDB and five who represent the Non-Regional members.”
Leon is the sixth president of the regional development finance institution. He was elected at a special meeting of the CDB Board of Governors held on January 19, 2021 for a five-year term, and assumed office on May 4, 2021.
The highly regarded St Lucian-born economist heads a team of more than 200 employees headquartered in Bridgetown, and came to the assignment with 35 years of experience in economics, financial policy development and executive management, more than 20 of which were spent working with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF).
He had succeeded the Jamaican-born Dr Warren Smith who retired in 2021 after serving as president for 10 years.
Last week, Leon was in Guyana holding talks with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) chairman, Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali and CARICOM Secretary General Dr Carla Barnett.
On Thursday, Guyana’s Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo, told reporters that Georgetown would “try to find out a bit more” regarding the announcement by the CDB that it is currently undertaking “an ongoing administrative process” involving its president.
The CDB has however, remained silent regarding reports that senior officials of the region’s premier financial institution had been sent on administrative leave.
Jagdeo told a news conference that while Guyana has not been officially informed of the situation “we are going to try to find out a bit more about what’s going on and from official sources”.
He said he had been unsuccessful in getting information about the situation early on Thursday, adding “I did not find anything in detail about it, you probably have more information than we have at this point in time”.
Jagdeo told reporters “I know the press conference was postponed,” adding “the media tends to get even reports ahead because they deal with leaks”.
CMC had reported Wednesday that it was reliably informed that senior officials of the CDB had been sent on administrative leave, but that its sources could not provide further details at this time.
However in a terse one paragraph statement late on Wednesday night, the bank said “Caribbean Development Bank acknowledges an ongoing administrative process involving the President. The Bank will not be making any further comments on this internal matter at this time”.
The statement coincided with the announcement by the bank Wednesday that it had postponed to next month, its annual news conference where it was expected to outline recommendations on how it intended to harness regional and international alliances to broker new partnerships for holistic and inclusive development.
The news conference was originally scheduled for Tuesday next week, but the one paragraph statement announcing the postponement to February 20, gave no reason.
“The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) will now be holding its 2024 Annual News Conference on Tuesday, February 20, 2024. Subsequent updates will be shared directly and published via Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn,” the statement said.
But when asked by CMC for the reasons for the postponement, the CDB responded saying “the Bank’s teams needed more time”.
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