TERRORISM AT THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN CENTRAL BANK


Eastern Caribbean Central Bank

 

The following letter was sent to Hon Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Chairman of the OECS Monetary Council, the Board of the ECCB and media houses in CARICOM. The contents therein bids us examine our actions and to decide where we stand.  Already there have been questions as to the validity and voracity of the individual who has written these damning criticisms.  But how are we to grow and develop as a people and region if no one is prepared to challenge the status quo? No one is prepared to stand on the  principle of right versus wrong? When have we become so full of our selves that we are prepared to jeopardise the future of our countries, the region and the world when we cannot admit our fault but charge blindly headlong and expect others to blindly follow?

The letter in its entirety is reproduced below for you to make up your own mind and if you feel so moved to take action.

Editor

TERRORISM AT THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN CENTRAL BANK

 

8 September 2014

Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Chairman

Eastern Caribbean Monetary Council

c/o Office of the Prime Minister

St. Vincent & The Grenadines

Kingstown, St. Vincent

 

Dear Sir:

It is with a deep sense of urgency that I write to you regarding what has been happening and continues to happen at the ECCB while EVERYONE turns a blind eye. The Board is aware of what is happening and yet is not taking the necessary action to arrest the situation. This inaction on the part of all involved, the directors, the Governor and the members of Council is on the verge of sinking our institution. We the people of the OECS will hold you, the members of Council and the Board responsible for the destruction of the ECCB. With this letter I am officially informing you, the members of Council and the Board of Directors of what is taking place at the ECCB. I am also bringing the matter to the attention of the people of the Region (OECS and CARICOM) by making this letter publicly available to them via the regional media houses and the internet. Sir, this letter is essentially a cry out to you, the Council, the Board and the People of the Region for help for the employees of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.

Basically there are two main root problems at the Bank which are:

  1. The Governor for the past 5 – 7 years have stopped governing and managing the bank and neither the Board of Directors nor the members of Council have noticed. Over the past 5 years he has been totally ineffective. This is because he is no longer interested, motivated or able. Notwithstanding, his contract is renewed from period to period automatically and without any real serious evaluations being done and tough questions asked by anyone.

  1. As a result of number 1 above, the Managing Director has been allowed to run wild at the Bank and resultantly for the past 5 – 7 years have been totally out of control. She does as she wants, when she wants, how she wants and answers to no one. She has no respect for the Deputy Governor and treats him as a subordinate when in fact technically she is his subordinate. She and the Governor combined has manipulated the Board to the point where The Board is not even aware that she takes home more pay than the Deputy Governor. That is the information circulating around the Bank for quite some time now. How can that be justified or explained if it is in fact true? The Board has been hoodwinked over the past few years as subtle, apparently insignificant proposals are made which they agree to, not realizing the ultimate results.

As a result of 1 and 2 above the Bank has deteriorated tremendously in many areas which I point out following:

Productivity

The Managing Director on a daily basis calls meetings without agendas and as a result a lot of valuable time is wasted on a daily basis. It is common to sit in meetings for hours just listening to her talk about nothing that has anything to do with the work of the Bank. These meetings are conducted in a manner that is most disrespectful to the attendees. Anyone looking on from the outside will equate the situation to one where a teacher is in front of her kindergarten class. People are asked to answer ridiculous questions on topics that have no place in the Bank. I refer to lectures by her on private personal relationships, her family, when a car should go into low or high gear, and all sorts of nonsense. She would ask persons to answer questions and if the answers are not the ones she demands she deliberately embarrasses the person to the point of tears. As a result persons say things that in their heart they totally disagree with but do so to avoid her wrath. As a result the Institution does not get the benefit of the knowledge, experience and intelligence of management as persons are not allowed to think and have differing opinions. On a regular basis she threatens people’s jobs and uses that to keep them in line.

Staff

Presently staff morale is at the lowest point in the history of the bank. The atmosphere is now one where everyone is focused on holding on to their jobs rather than on advancing the institution. While some persons can live their career life that way others cannot. As a result we have seen most of the top level, intelligent, productive, bright people left the Bank. On the flip side we now see mediocre people left to head departments. These are persons who are either related to the Managing Director or are blind followers of her. This is one of the reasons why the Bank Supervision Department is now at the point of non-functional. This is also the reason why never before in the history of the Bank has its premises been in such disrepair.

The morale of the staff is so low at this point that employees no longer get involved in the Staff Association or its activities. Rather than find a solution to the low staff morale, the Managing Director has now resorted to the use of force (threatening people’s jobs) to get them to get involved in staff activities.

It is well known that most of the management staff at the Bank are actively seeking employment elsewhere. Some have even left without any place to go rather than continue to subject themselves to the cruelty that is dished out by the Managing Director on a daily basis.

It is also well known that the Managing Director herself being aware of her failure and unpopularity at the Bank applied for the position of CEO at the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank. It is said that she pulled every possible string that could be pulled to get the job. It is believed that she was not even considered as a result of the bad reputation she has made for herself at her present work place. It appears that no one has anything good to say about her in the work place.

The Managing Director’s awful treatment of the staff has raised the stress level in the Bank to an all time high. There are many persons at the Bank who are of the view that she caused the demise of the last employee of the Bank who passed on. It is well known that she was very mean to her and that the poor lady used to be seen physically shaking when in the same place with her. On this one I can only say only God knows and only God will judge. In the past week a senior employee who is pregnant and not even close to the due date had to be hospitalized. I am not a doctor but I am willing to bet that her illness was brought on primarily by the high level of stress in the workplace. The work environment that has been created by the Managing Director is threatening the lives of the Bank’s employees in general and in this particular case, our pregnant colleague and her unborn child. How many more will have to suffer with their lives under the Managing Director and a Governor who is totally oblivious to what is going on?

The sick leave record of the Bank over the past 5 years is more than what it was for the previous 15 years. Persons are continuously on sick leave from the Bank. Many doctors on St. Kitts have had reason to enquire as to what is happening at the ECCB as a result of the number of persons from the Bank they are having to attend to with stress related illnesses. The one constant is the Managing Director. This situation continues to result in tremendous cost to the Bank but no one is counting. The question that has to be asked is WHERE IS THE BOARD.

The Managing Director is so out of control that she refuses to be at work when the Governor is not there. She therefore always ensure to take vacation at the same time as the Governor or make certain that if the Governor is travelling or sick she is away from work. It is well observed and known throughout the Bank that she does this to avoid having to be at the Bank when the Deputy Governor is in charge. Her safety net is the Governor who lets her terrorize the staff.

Financial Resources

In regards to matters of finance, here again the Managing Director is totally out of control. She no longer follows well established procedures for spending the Bank’s money thus continuously causes the Bank to suffer loss. For example, on her own without following the well established procedures of the Bank she single handedly made a decision to change the Bank’s operating software from T-24 to SAP. The truth of the matter is that most of the members of the management team are of the opinion that the software chosen is inadequate for the Bank. The software came at a cost of in excess of US$2 million to the Bank and is less capable of handing the work of the Bank than the software that it is replacing. In fact we were reliably informed that the Bank was told by the software company that SAP had never been used in a central bank environment and thus may not be adequate for the Bank. Employees regard that decision as the largest waste of money that the Bank has ever suffered and anticipate it will be another of the Bank’s big failure. That tragic point is rapidly approaching and it is obvious by her actions that she has begun to seek out and set up persons to place the blame on for the huge failure that is approaching. This however is not surprising as it has always been her modus operandi. But Sir, it doesn’t matter the unfortunate soul or souls she finds to set up to be blamed, everyone know the blame will belong to her and her alone as she alone made the decision to change over the entire banking system without proper consultation within the Bank as is required per the Bank’s written guidelines for making such decisions . In trying to make sense of it, I often times wonder if some sort of monetary kickback was involved in that decision. Considering the quantum of the Bank’s resources involved, this particular matter begs investigation.

The Managing Director on a regular basis take trips to faraway places at great expense to the Bank. Huge sums of money are paid by the Bank for expensive hotels, first class airline tickets and spending money. All this and there is never any indication as to where she is going and for what purpose. Upon her return there is no report as to where she went and how the Bank benefitted from her trip. A back to office report has always been a requirement for all travels. She no longer follows any rules, regulations or procedures. She does what she wants, how she wants, when she wants and does not have to answer to anyone. It is my understanding that her next getaway at the Bank’s expense is a trip to China.

Result

The result of all this has been as follows:

  1. This year the Bank for the first time in its history is reporting a loss. A loss of $18 million.

  2. In the last 6 years we have seen more bank failures in the OECS than we have seen from its inception up to that point.

  3. The Governor’s ‘Big To Do’ 8 – Point Plan has been a total failure. A disaster indeed.

  4. The Managing Director has emerged as the Almighty and Most Powerful – This was recently demonstrated when she singlehandedly delayed the St. Kitts road project by refusing to allow the Government use of a small portion of the Bank’s land for a curb. But as the St. Kitts Calypsonian says in song “Only in St. Christopher” for I am certain this would not be tolerated anywhere else.

  5. The Prestige and stature of the Bank is at its lowest ever. What’s happening at the Bank and indeed the Bank itself is presently regarded as a joke.

The Board

The workers at the Bank are begging for relief from the wrath, disrespect and humiliation of the Managing Director. It is clear that the Governor will not take any action as it is felt that he has been compromised a very long time ago. This relief is necessary so that the workers of the Bank can go back to focus on the work of the Bank rather than on the whims and fancy of the Managing Director to avoid getting fired.

Many Board members have used the excuse that they hear of these things and know of these things but their hands are tied because no one will come forward with a formal complaint. That response it unacceptable. They must appreciate that the employees have families to feed and thus cannot afford to lose their job which undoubtedly will be the result should anyone speak up. As a leader it is incumbent upon directors to recognize the complexity of the situation and find a way to bring these issues to light by asking questions and demanding answers. During their silence the Bank has been deteriorating and all signs point to it deteriorating much further should it be allowed to continue on its present course. What will it take for a Board member and/or the Board to act. Board members cannot be allowed to continue to collect board fees only to make the easy decisions and leave the hard ones. Whatever happens to our treasured institution, be it good or bad, we the people will hold the Council and the Board responsible individually and collectively.

Over the last six months I have come to the conclusion based on my observation of the Managing Director’s behavior and on my limited study and training in psychology that the Managing Director is mentally unstable. Her behavior in the work place is not normal human behavior. This is evidenced by her blatant disrespect for employees, her deliberate actions to hurt some people in the organization without reason, the time and resources of the Bank that she wastes on a daily basis, the disregard and disrespect that she openly shows for the Deputy Governor, her frequent unprovoked and unwarranted outbursts, ranting and raving, her disregard for the time tested and effective policies and procedures of the Bank and generally the manner in which she conducts herself in the work place.

It is a popular opinion is that she does not add any value whatsoever to the Bank as she does absolutely NO work. I dare anyone to point to any WORK that she has done in the Bank in the last 7 years. Any Paper she has produced. Any deliverables of any kind or sort that she has delivered. Her only actions have been to hold meetings that have no purpose whatsoever as evidenced by the absence of any agenda for these meetings. They are solely for the purpose of her speaking about whatever she woke up with on her mind that morning and for chastising members of staff. These meetings sometimes run for 2 – 3 hours with persons getting frustrated knowing how much REAL work they have back in their office to get done. The questions that are often asked are who evaluates her, what is she evaluated on, what is the work that she it to get done, how is her performance measured, where and what is her job description (It appears she is the only employee who does not have one). It would be most useful and interesting for the directors to ask to see her job description and her job performance reports for the past 5 years. I will be willing to bet none has been completed. Realistically Sir, all she does is to impede the work of the Bank.

I am asking that you use your good office to direct the Board to commission a consultant to investigate these matters. To have the consultant talk to existing staff members with the understanding that they can speak freely without any threat of losing their job and other such assurances. It will also be useful for the consultant to interview past employees who have left the bank within the past 5-7 years. I am certain this process will bring to light the MONSTER that is terrorizing the employees of the ECCB supported by the Governor and the Board who have failed, deliberately so, to acknowledge the problem and act. Board members are aware of what is going on, but even if they say they are not, that is no excuse. As a youngster growing up in my village I would always hear a older gentleman say ‘Is fe you to know wha you should know’.

Sir, the Bank is in very serious trouble. Productivity is at an all time low, employees are leaving at an unprecedented rate, its ability to attract new quality employees is at an unprecedented low, some departments of the Bank have now become totally ineffective, most persons in management are job hunting, the Bank is now making losses which is expected to continue, the banking community has lost a tremendous amount of respect for the Bank and for the Governor, the Bank and the mess that the Managing Director has made of it is the talk of the Region. The time has come for new leadership, new ideas, new enthusiasm, new initiatives, new methods and new people in key positions. We have seen this kind of change take place on a regular basis at all the other central banks in the Region. We however, continue to do the same thing, the same way, with the same people and expect a different result. That will not happen. Hard decisions have to be made by real leaders to propel our Bank and our Region forward.

I understand to some extent the difficulty that Board members face in that the Governor is also the Chairman of the Board. Which Board member or members would have the strength of purpose, and/or the strength of leadership to eyeball the Chairman/Governor and ask tough questions and demand open, honest and forthright answers? The present system is not conducive to full disclosure and accountability by the Governor/Chairman. Very serious consideration must be given to discontinuing the practice of the Governor being the Chairman of the Board so that among other things, grievances within the Bank that involve the Governor can be directed directly to the Chairman. It is a bad practice for the director in charge of the day to day operations of an organization to also be the Chairman of the Board. History has shown that it is a perfect recipe for problems for the organization. One of the main reason why the situation at the Bank has deteriorated to the point it is at is because abused, misused and humiliated staff who have suffered at the hands of the Managing Director have no one to turn to. They cannot turn to the Governor because the Governor then discusses the complaint with the Managing Director, the Managing Director then puts the complainant through hell and if the complainant goes back to the Governor the vicious cycle continues with only the level of suffering for the complainant increasing. Sir the ECCB is the most dysfunctional organization I have ever come across in my entire life.

I must hasten to indicate that I have no personal issues with the Governor nor the Managing Director. My ‘beef’ is that for some time now they have been on a path of destroying the Bank. The Governor primarily by his inaction and the Managing Director primarily by her poor decisions, personal vendetta, waste of the Bank’s time, personnel and financial resources, her blatant violation of all rules, regulations, customs, practices and procedures of the Bank and generally her nasty conduct and behavior.

Regrettably I can not reveal my identity at this time for obviously every effort will be made to find out the author of this letter not only to fire him/her but also to ridicule him/her, damage his/her reputation and contaminate his/her record in attempt to make sure he/she is unable to find work anywhere in the world. That is consistent with the behavior and conduct of the Managing Director. Unfortunately I have responsibilities which if I am to lose my job will be devastating for me. Understanding this and bearing it in mind it is my hope that you will give this letter and all of its content the acknowledgement, serious and urgent attention it deserves notwithstanding it being unsigned.

I also ask that you take the necessary action through the Board to put in place a temporary policy where all firing/termination of staff members MUST be authorized by the Board. This is very necessary as the Managing Director would do whatever she deems necessary including manufacturing and fabricating reasons to fire anyone she is even suspicious of as being the author of this letter. This is her modus operandi and we have witnessed it before.

Sir, I, and in fact, the Region has come to regard you as a fair, honest and forthright leader who stands up for the poor and down trodden. This is one of those times and one of those situations where the down trodden is crying out to you for help. Please help Sir, PLEASE. My colleagues, co-workers and friends beg your involvement toward putting an immediate end to the ‘Terrorism at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.’

Best Regards,

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