Citing what he referred to as ‘naked political attempts’ to discredit him and the former Cayman Islands government, Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush Monday defended several major projects that were given approval during his administration.
The comments come on the heels of reports in the Caymanian Compass that both Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts and Cayman Islands Auditor General Dan Duguay had recommended police investigate the debt financing arrangements for the Boatswain’s Beach/Cayman Turtle Farm project.
Police are reviewing the Auditor General’s report.
‘Kurt and his group…conducted a poll of 1,000 people and found out that they were very unpopular,’ Mr. Bush said in a telephone interview Monday. ‘So, they now have to make me look as bad as possible to draw attention from them.
‘They have failed in their management of the affairs of the country, and so they have to find another way to stay in power and that is to continue to crucify me. They are desperate.’
As reported by the Compass on 13 July, Mr. Bush again stressed that he asked the Auditor General to review all aspects of the Turtle Farm project last year and said he has nothing to hide.
Mr. Bush also said in a written statement that the Auditor General’s published findings contained ‘no indication of anything that could be deemed illegal.’
Mr. Tibbetts said Friday that Mr. Bush’s administration from November 2001 to May 2005 was marked by ‘gross maladministration.’ Mr. Tibbetts said evidence of that could be found in six separate reports from the Auditor General’s office, which revealed questionable and in some cases potentially criminal uses of public funds.
‘He (Mr. Bush) should devote some of his considerable efforts in explaining why he and his UDP (United Democratic Party) colleagues misspent so many millions of dollars of the country’s money during their brief term in office,’ Mr. Tibbetts said Friday.
Mr. Tibbetts requested that Governor Stuart Jack order a police investigation into the Boatswain’s Beach project, and questioned why a previous criminal probe into the Affordable Housing Initiative had taken so long to complete.
The housing initiative was also reviewed by the Auditor General who passed his information to police.
Mr. Tibbetts pointed out that Mr. Bush not only ran the elected government at the time, but chaired the Turtle Farm board when the auditor’s report suggested more than half the money spent for financing arrangements on the deal had little or no value to Cayman residents.
Mr. Tibbetts also mentioned that former UDP Minister Frank McField was chairman of the board of the National Housing and Community Development Trust, which had responsibility for the housing initiative now being investigated by the police.
A police spokesperson said Friday that investigation is on-going and will hopefully draw to a conclusion soon.
‘It is disingenuous…for Mr. Bush to suggest…that the boards, not him, are responsible for the mismanagement and maladministration of the various projects,’ Mr. Tibbetts said. ‘By virtue of their offices and by sheer force of character, both Dr. McField and…McKeeva Bush drove the decisions of the boards, which they chaired…and…at times made decisions independently of the boards.’
In an interview Monday, Mr. McField declined to comment on the specifics of the national housing trust case. But he denounced Mr. Tibbetts’ statements as ‘a political smear.
‘I believe that if Mr. Tibbetts was concerned that there should be a police investigation into the Boatswain’s…dealings, that this could have been dealt with privately,’ Mr. McField said. ‘Mr. Tibbetts only came out and made these statements in order to put pressure on the police.’
‘He (Mr. Tibbetts) knew that elections have now been announced and he now announces his platform and their (People’s Progressive Movement’s) strategy with regards to winning. This is how they won before. This is how they intend to try to win again.’
Mr. McField is not an office-holder currently, but he was a member of the UDP government and said he intends to seek office again in the future.
Mr. Bush questioned why the Public Accounts Committee – chaired by a member of the People’s Progressive Movement government – had not reviewed any of the six Auditor General’s reports referenced by Mr. Tibbetts. Mr. Bush said he had previously sent a letter to the PAC chairman expressing concern about the matter.
‘They should be moving to have these matters reviewed by the PAC with the same fervour that they are waging their campaign to discredit every project carried out by the former government,’ Mr. Bush said.
In a press briefing Friday, government officials said the PAC would not review cases which are being investigated by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service until those investigations are complete.