Governance probes will cost Cayman

Recent investigations ordered by Cayman Islands Governor Stuart Jack are expected to produce changes in the way local government is run.

Those changes will come with both a monetary and potential political cost.

The final bill for the Commission of Enquiry held in January is now known: $242,409, according to reports in the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee.

The cost of a probe being conducted here by nine officers from the UK Metropolitan Police is not known, but local government is expected to pick up the tab for that as well.

Three top officers of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service have been put on paid leave while that enquiry continues.

‘The Cayman Islands government is ultimately paying for it, I don’t think there’s any big secret about that,’ said Chief Investigating Officer Martin Bridger. ‘But there are audited processes in place around the spending of money.’

Mr. Bridger said his team would be able to make a full accounting for all the funds it spent during its time in Cayman.

The Commission of Enquiry made a number of recommendations regarding how government documents should be handled, when civil servants can run for public office, and how public sector whistle-blowers should be protected. It’s still not certain when or how those changes will be implemented.

Mr. Bridger said his team’s work will likely end up producing similar recommendations regarding the operation of the RCIPS.

‘We have identified some areas where we will eventually be recommending some changes or improvements,’ he said.

He was vague about them but referred to them as ‘corruption proofing.’

‘Any investigation can come to the RCIPS and you’ll always find some areas for improvement,’ he said. ‘If there are issues of integrity in any investigation…there are steps that can be taken.’

‘The (Tourism Minister Charles) Clifford thing, I’ve followed it,’ Mr. Bridger added. ‘And the rights and wrongs of Mr. Clifford or (Cayman Net News publisher) Desmond Seales, I’m not going to comment on. But it’s about behaviour in a public office. That’s what I’d like people to start focusing on.’

The detailed breakdown of the Commission of Enquiry costs was provided Friday. Approximately $118,000 went for Commissioner Sir Richard Tucker’s personal costs including his salary ($88,000), his hotel accommodations ($6,500), airfare ($21,500) and meals and other costs ($2,200). Some $77,000 went to the salaries of four other employees in the commission office.

Roughly $41,000 was paid out for office and set up costs, and the remainder of approximately $6,000 went to printing of the final report and hiring a car for Mr. Tucker.

Figures presented to the Legislative Assembly did not include any payments for attorneys appearing before the commission.

A largely symbolic vote was required in finance committee, even though most of the payments, approximately $185,000, had already been made.

‘Who called for this (commission)? Was it not the UK representative?’ Bodden Town MLA Osbourne Bodden asked. ‘Have we asked for any consideration for this?’

Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson said there had been no reimbursement made to the Cayman Islands government for the commission’s costs. Some Opposition members said they were concerned about government’s stance against paying for the enquiry.

‘How do we make the leap to suggest that we shouldn’t pay for it?’ asked West Bay MLA Rolston Anglin. ‘(There were) recommendations for change in policies, and a finding of wrong-doing.’

The commission found that Mr. Clifford acted wrongly in removing confidential government documents and giving them to the press following his resignation as permanent secretary of the Ministry of Tourism in 2004, although it did not recommend any disciplinary action against Mr. Clifford.

In the end, all present members of the finance committee voted to support the commission’s funding, except for Mr. Bodden and Mr. Clifford, who both abstained.