No failure of governance in English-speaking Caribbean, says Wynter

Jamaica’s governor says dismissal of Barbados and T&T peers reflects government agendas; “has been a scandal” in Curaçao and Sint Maarten
Brian Wynter
Brian Wynter: “These are problems that occur when the government is looking to replace a governor”
Felipe Iturra

There is no generalised failure of governance taking place at central banks in the English-speaking Caribbean, despite the recent removal of the governors in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, according to the head of the region’s largest central bank.

Brian Wynter, governor of the Bank of Jamaica, believes last year’s dismissal of DeLisle Worrell at the Central Bank of Barbados and the sacking of Jwala Rambarran from the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago in late 2015 were the result of differences in opinion between the governors and their respective governments.

Worrell and Rambarran have both legally challenged their dismissals.

“From what I have seen, they reflect problems governments have with the governor,” Wynter tells Central Banking journal in an interview published on July 2. “These are problems that occur when the government is looking to replace a governor.”

Wynter should be well placed to understand the nuances of a central bank governor’s relations with government. His predecessor, Derick Latibeaudiere, was removed from office due to claims of “exorbitant provisions” in his employment contract. A settlement appears to have been reached with the executive.

“I do not want to go into the details, but when I look at the cases of Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, there are things that you would want to avoid,” Wynter says. “I am not saying the political influence was improper, but if there are differences, there should be a way to resolve them in a clean and surgical manner that does not involve a major scandal, as then other things get brought into it that are used to help to justify certain actions.”

In the English-speaking Caribbean, a couple of governors have stepped down in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. I would not call those two events scandals
Brian Wynter, Bank of Jamaica

The Bank of Jamaica governor says each country faces a choice of either making the role of governor overtly political or better protecting governors that are striving to do their jobs at independent central banks. Such mechanisms would help to reinforce the reputation of institutions in the Caribbean region.

Wynter was responding to questions about why there had been so many ‘scandals’ related to central bank governors in the region during the past 30 months.

“In the English-speaking Caribbean, a couple of governors have stepped down in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago,” says Wynter. “I would not call those two events scandals.”

Curaçao and Sint Maarten ‘scandal’

However, he appeared to take a different view regarding the removal of Emsley Tromp as governor of the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten. Tromp is currently on trial for tax evasion and has legally challenged his removal from office.

“Now there has been a scandal in Curaçao and Sint Maarten. That is a different thing,” says Wynter. “I do not know the full story and I have not seen the full results. But I hope that the message it sends – and it would be a good message – is that in our region the rule of law applies even to the governor.”

Wynter says that were he ever to be suspected of money laundering, corruption or something similar, “there needs to be a mechanism that would not shrink from holding me accountable for that”.

“I don’t know the full story – the truth or otherwise – but I certainly do not see my colleague from Curaçao and Sint Maarten any more,” he adds.

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