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By Former CDB Employee

I have paid close attention to the conversations on radio and social media. I have read with a great degree of intensity all of the published articles about the current development at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) involving its president and senior staffers. 

Of course, and unfortunately, I feel a great sense of déjà vu. The history of our region and its leaders, including critical institutions like the CDB, is replete with allegations of misconduct, scandals and, among other things, mismanagement.

What is striking in all of the discourse is the absence of support for the fact that in at least one institution, the governance arrangements ensure that no one is above scrutiny and when there are alleged infractions, one is held to account, regardless of status or position.

My understanding is that there have been some serious allegations that need to be addressed. While recognising that an allegation is just that — an allegation — I am grateful that we have sound institutions in this region that are willing to put integrity over politics and activate the requisite protocols, regardless of the person concerned.

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Indeed, there are many international examples of high-level people in the corporate world and the public sector who were made to account for their actions. There is the case of President Bill Clinton, who, in spite of his position and popularity, was impeached.

Former President of the Inter-American Development Bank, Mauricio Claver-Carone, was fired as a result of an ethics investigation that concluded that he had an inappropriate relationship with a senior staffer who received salary increases close to 50% in less than a year. The probe also found that the ex-president created a hostile environment such that employees expressed fear of reprisal if they participated in the probe.

And, last year, the Confederation of British Industry fired its Director-General, Tony Danker and suspended three others for workplace misconduct. Just last week, Bank of Montreal fired four employees in Toronto, and two others resigned following complaints of bullying and harassment.

As one can see, the bar for integrity, especially in financial institutions, is high. Misdeeds or missteps by executives can translate into difficulties raising funds efficiently and a downgrade of credit ratings if the systems of governance are not allowed to work. In the context of our region, such occurrences are swiftly punished by the international community which sometimes, unfairly so, see us as unable to manage our affairs.

As a former employee of the CDB, I consider the allegation to be just that and await the outcome of the process that has been triggered. However, I am positive that the procedures used to send the president on administrative leave were activated in the best interest of the CBD while the matters are fully ventilated. My understanding is that these steps were undertaken based on a similar situation involving a former bank official.

Based on the pronouncements of the regional Governors of the Bank, I would hate to think they are considering taking steps that would prevent those procedures from running their full course.

I hope the findings of these proceedings are released and show that the steps taken by the committee were reasonable and in the best long-term interest of the bank and the region, especially as the president is also the chairman of the board of directors. Rules exist for a reason and must be followed, regardless of the person(s) involved. This is what separates us from historic societies that have gone too far. Our politicians and leaders must also embody this principle.

Furthermore, the world is watching. If we need to, we must convince hawk-eyed observers that we can act maturely and in a principled manner, regardless of the person or personality who is the subject of an established procedure.

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