Letters & Opinion

What’s Behind the Early-grounding of the CDB’s High-flying President?

Earl Bousquet
Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

Once upon a time, news reports were based on Who did What, Where, Why and How, but the advent of the internet and online newsgathering and dissemination in the past three decades, two more requirements are added today: what ‘Platform’ and which ‘Language’.

It used to be too, that journalists reported only verifiable facts and left-out rumours until confirmed or denied, but it’s quite acceptable today that a rumour could be reported as a headline, based on ‘unconfirmed’, ‘usually-reliable’ or invisible sources who allegedly ‘requested anonymity’.

Take the Caribbean Media Corporation’s (CMC) published ‘scoops’ about the highly-controversial decision by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to send its President, Dr Hyginus ‘Gene’ Leon, on ‘Administrative Leave’ until April.

On January 19, 2024 the CMC published a report headlined: ‘CDB President’s computer, tablet seized as he’s sent on Administrative Leave until April!’

Days later, Times Caribbean Online followed-up with another headline: ‘CDB President Dr. Hyginus Leon sent on leave amid explosive allegations of intra-office affair’.

Then came another Times Caribbean Online report, also carried by St. Vincent Times.com, headlined: ‘OECS leaders voice shock and disappointment as CDB President sent on leave’.

As expected, the CMC’s original story grew long legs and tentacles, readers everywhere responding to the saucy headlines on Facebook, Instagram, Tik-Tok and other global online platforms.

The reports were pregnant with what would yesteryear have-been described as innuendo, including quoted claims by invisible ‘inside sources’ that the President may have employed unauthorized, irregular or illegal means of getting to Guyana for meetings with Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General Dr Carla Barnett and its new Chair, Guyana’s President Dr Irfaan Ali.

Guyana’ Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo was also asked at a press conference to comment on the rumours and unconfirmed reports.

In likely response to the CMC’s reports questioning why the postponement of the CDB’s annual regional press conference to an undefined date, the bank announced it will take place in February – and President Leon won’t be attending.

A week after the original CMC report, the rumours, claims and unsubstantiated allegations continued to snowball from molehill to mountainous proportions, no-one sure whether it’s a storm in a teacup or deliberate stoking of a red ants’ nest.

The published reports have also raised pertinent issues and questions regarding intent and effect, many wondering and pondering whether it’s a case of regional media houses going-after the highly-respected head of a top regional institution, mindless of the effects on the institution and/or the integrity of its leadership.

The stories brought countless ‘likes’ on Facebook and otherwise met the objective of ensuring being read and spread as far and wide as possible, but with the CDB and its President unable to entertain CMC and other press demands for official confirmations, denials and other details while the investigation was underway.

For starters, when Dr Leon was appointed President on the basis of his qualifications being superior to other applicants, word got out that many nationals at different levels at the Barbados-based CDB headquarters felt annoyed that ‘another Saint Lucian’ had succeeded Sir Arthur Lewis, when it was supposed to have been ‘Barbados’ turn now…’

Thing is, though, while the top position has been held by non-Barbadians over time, it isn’t ‘given’ on rotation and Dr Leon gained his ten-year, two-term position on the basis of being – by far – the most-qualified applicant.

President Leon’s first year coincided with the accidental fact that Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister and Finance Minister Philip J. Pierre, between 2022 and 2023, served as Chairman of the Boards of Governors of both the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and of the CDB, during which the CDB’s 2023 Annual General Meeting was also hosted in Saint Lucia.

There were claims too that in his first year on the job President Leon seemed to enjoy a higher level of regional and international press coverage than all his predecessors and should have been more-quiet than loud in his efforts to explain the bank’s mission and vision, under his watch.

So then, was the original CMC report and others that followed aimed at quickly quieting the President, or were they simply reports demonstrating the potent power of the press to pursue any story without consideration of its ultimate effects?

Whether it was a case of ‘publish or de damned’ or some other inexplicable intent to bring Dr Leon to his knees in and before the court of Caribbean public opinion before the investigation is over, will probably never be known – at least not yet…

However, it’s also bothered many in the regional public square that any Caribbean media would have allowed themselves to be accused of setting-out to pluck President Leon’s feathers ahead of the investigators deciding he should or shouldn’t be baked on a slow fire, over 100 days, from January to April.

But in this new information age, coverage is not-as-much always aimed at ensuring that truth be told as aimed at increasing online ‘likes’ over competitors.

It’s unfortunate that at a time when over 117 Arab journalists have been targeted and killed in Gaza for doing their job of pursuing and telling the truth, Caribbean journalists would feel free to target the President of the region’s premier banking entity in the way Dr Leon has been treated by the CMC, et al.

Even worse is the speculation that the original intent of the early-release of selected saucy personal titbits was to put Dr Leon in a position where he’d be forced into considering resigning, in shame or disgust, irrespective of the eventual findings.

The CMC will most-likely argue that in pursuit of its scoops, it needed not consider the consequences of its original reports pointing accusing fingers at the head of the region’s most important development banking entity, but those questioning its intent are equally-right to be highly-suspicious that there could be more in the CMC’s mortar than just the president’s pestle.


  1. Don’t normally comment however the assertion the Leon guy who very few has ever heard of succeeding Arthur Lewis is laughable. Lewis lived and died in Barbados. He was the first CDB governor half century ago. Several governors from the so-called Big 4 succeeded Lewis. Why would anyone in 2024 be pissed off ‘another St. Lucian’ is governor 60 years after Lewis? The CDB isn’t a top-of-mind important organization for Caribbean people. Much of the public don’t know or don’t care who is the governor. We ‘re not sure why Leon was kicked to the curb or fired and the crappy reasoning by the writer doesn’t help. He should dig deeper to find out if there were financial or administrative irregularities. Catching at straws like one country ‘feeling it should be their turn’ is unbecoming of a so-called journalist.

    1. 100% agree with the above comment. This article does not provide any light on why it happened which is what really matters. The Gaza journalists died pursuing the truth, this article seems to only whitewash a potential scandal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend