Boatswain’s probe nets no charges

No charges will be filed following a nine month criminal investigation into a failed financing deal made for the Boatswain’s Beach tourist facility’s expansion.

Royal Cayman Islands Police Superintendent Mike Needham said Tuesday that a thorough investigation that included enquiries in Canada and the independent oversight of a United Kingdom Senior Queens Counsel turned up no evidence that anyone involved in the expansion project committed a criminal offence.

‘To prove criminal offences, you’ve got to prove that somebody did something dishonest,’ Mr. Needham said. ‘For criminal offences we’ve got to prove a guilty act and a guilty mind, neither of which we have found in this particular case.’

Cayman Islands Auditor General Dan Duguay, whose office reviewed the original financing deal for the Boatswain’s Beach project expansion, said more than US $1.6 million of the US $2.8 million spent on the failed financing deal had little or no value to Cayman Islands residents.

‘In the course of almost 30 years of government auditing, I have difficulty of thinking of any situation which showed such a cavalier attitude of expenditure of such sums,’ Mr. Duguay wrote in his report on the matter which was issued in June 2007.

Mr. Needham said the RCIPS Financial Crimes Unit began its investigation immediately after Mr. Duguay forwarded his report to police. The criminal probe wrapped up in March 2008.

‘The auditor general is tasked with different areas and different responsibility,’ Mr. Needham said. ‘Mr. Duguay looks at government finances and he has a job to do in respect to those finances.’

Mr. Duguay said he respects the RCIPS investigators’ opinion and the review they conducted, but also stood by his office’s report and noted no one had challenged the facts it presented.

‘Our report indicated money that the Cayman Islands did not get good value for,’ Mr. Duguay said.

Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, who was chairman of the Boatswain’s Beach (also called the Cayman Turtle Farm) board of directors at the time the financial arrangements were made for the project’s expansion, said he has always maintained that neither he nor other board members had done anything wrong.

‘If your heart is pure and your hands are clean, then you have nothing to worry about,’ Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush also blasted members of the People’s Progressive Movement ruling party for what he said were defamatory remarks against his character made at a July 2007 press conference. At that briefing, Cabinet ministers criticised Mr. Bush’s role in several public projects which were begun under the previous government, including the Boatswain’s Beach expansion.

‘This was nothing but political victimisation in a desperate attempt by the PPM to try and smear my character and those of the board,’ Mr. Bush said.

PPM member, Tourism Minister Charles Clifford, was also on the Boatswain’s Beach board at the time the financing arrangements were made.

Elected members in Cayman’s government do not have direct responsibility for the operation or administration of the police service or the financial crimes unit. The governor’s office has direct control over police matters and the governor appoints the police commissioner in his sole discretion.

The initial financing deal approved by the Boatswain’s Beach board was never put into place. Government officials ‘representing the shareholders of the Turtle Farm’ had requested the arrangement not be carried out.

However, because the original financing agreement had been signed, the companies involved in the negotiations were paid nearly $1.4 million in fees which Mr. Duguay called ‘grossly excessive.’

Two key figures in the negotiations were business associates or acquaintances of Mr. Bush. They were also cleared in the subsequent police investigation.