Gov’t prods police

Urges completion of queries

The government will request that a senior UK officer be dispatched to Cayman to look into what elected ministers said is a severe delay in investigations into two public projects approved during the previous United Democratic Party administration.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has been looking into an affordable housing initiative started under the UDP government for more than two years. Last year, it also began a review of debt financing arrangements made for the expansion of the Boatswain’s Beach project.

In both cases, Auditor General Dan Duguay reported findings of maladministration after his office reviewed the project. Those findings were later forwarded to police.

‘The police investigations are still on-going,’ Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said Thursday. ‘This is particularly troubling as the police started with the benefit of the Auditor General’s work. The Governor has told us that he cannot intervene to expedite the police investigation, and that he cannot give any clear indication as to when these investigations may be concluded.

‘I say that this is not acceptable, and the delay is doing serious harm to public confidence in the governor, the police, the justice system and indeed the whole idea of good government.’

The issue of delays in the affordable housing initiative investigation was raised back in July by Mr. Tibbetts. At the time, police released a statement that indicated officers hoped the probe would be completed shortly.

Both former Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush and former UDP Minister Dr. Frank McField have denied criminal wrongdoing and have said accusations by Mr. Tibbetts and other People’s Progressive Movement ministers were merely ‘naked political attempts’ to discredit the UDP government.

Mr. Bush was chairman of the Cayman Turtle Farm Board of Directors, and Mr. McField was chairman of the National Housing and Community Development Trust, at the time the maladministration reported by the Auditor General was alleged to have occurred.

‘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,’ Mr. Bush said in July. (See Caymanian Compass, 17 July, ‘Mac fires back’) ‘They are desperate.’

‘This is how they won before,’ said Mr. McField, in the same article, referring to the May 2005 general election when the UDP lost control of the government to the PPM. ‘This is how they intend to win again.’

Mr. Tibbetts said Thursday that government would soon send a letter to the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office asking for a senior officer to be sent to review the status of the police investigations. He said the issues stated in the Auditor General’s reports on the two projects were of much more concern than the areas being addressed by a commission of enquiry recently ordered by Governor Stuart Jack.

‘There is undoubtedly another governance issue, which is of far greater importance and far greater concern to the public,’ he said.

The commission of enquiry is set to begin its work on Monday. It will review the removal of certain files from the Ministry of Tourism in 2004 by that ministry’s former permanent secretary and current Tourism Minister Charles Clifford

Mr. Bush has accused Mr. Clifford of taking the files and revealing them to the press against civil service regulations and possibly in violation of the law.

Mr. Clifford has said he took only his personal documents, and that his disclosure of those files led in part to the Auditor General’s findings of maladministration against the previous government. He said the Governor’s decision to call a commission of enquiry to look into those actions sends a bad message to civil servants.

‘If you disclose corruption, be careful,’ Mr. Clifford said.

Mr. Bush has previously said Mr. Clifford only disclosed the documents because he planned to run for office in 2005 against the UDP government.

Mr. Tibbetts said if the Governor believed that Mr. Bush’s accusations, supported by a local newspaper, warranted the formation of a commission of enquiry, then findings of maladministration and alleged corruption against elected ministers certainly merited one as well.

Mr. Bush has maintained that nothing in the Auditor General’s published findings on the Boatswain’s Beach matter indicated ‘anything that could be deemed illegal.’

The Governor’s office had not responded to Compass requests for comment on Thursday.