Gov: Tempura ‘not predictable’

Following the failure of a two-year, CI$10 million-plus investigation to secure any criminal convictions over alleged misconduct or corruption, local lawmakers have asked the United Kingdom to assist in repairing Cayman’s reputation.

‘What action does the governor or attorney general or anyone intend to take?’ George Town MLA Ellio Solomon said during a meeting of the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee. ‘There was an investigation that put a tremendously dark cloud over the Cayman Islands. There needs to be a clean bill of health given to the Cayman Islands.’

Mr. Solomon’s comments drew rare support from across the political aisle.

‘The point that (Mr. Solomon) made is extremely important to this country,’ Opposition MLA Moses Kirkconnell said.

‘I hope this is the last of the prosecutions under that ill-fated programme,’ Opposition MLA Alden McLaughlin added, referring to the recent acquittal of Royal Cayman Islands Police Deputy Commissioner Rudi Dixon on charges of misconduct and doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice charges in connection with the Met investigation.

That may not be the case. The initial stage of the probe, dubbed Operation Tempura, was completed with Mr. Dixon’s trial. However, an off-shoot of the initial investigation, called Operation Cealt, continues and officers with the UK Metropolitan Police service are still here in Cayman conducting enquiries and follow up investigations.

Those investigations relate to some 70 public complaints made against the RCIPS and its officers. The nature of those claims has never been revealed.

A report released Monday by Cayman Islands Auditor General Dan Duguay reviewed the costs of Operations Tempura and Cealt from September 2007 through January 2009, putting the total expenses during that period at roughly CI$5.7 million, with an additional CI$1.1 million estimated through the end of June 2009.

However, information provided to the Caymanian Compass through open records requests and the newspaper’s own examination of budget documents indicated government either had spent or intended to spend about $10 million from September ’07 through the end of this fiscal year, which is June 2010.

Mr. Duguay did not dispute those estimates when questioned about them on Monday.

Cayman Islands Governor Stuart Jack also has not disputed those reports, or the findings of the auditor general, which indicated some confusion and mismanagement on the part of local government officials overseeing Operation Tempura.

However, Mr. Jack said Mr. Duguay’s audit should be considered in its proper context.

‘Operation Tempura was not…a routine project or purchase of services by government,’ the Governor’s Office wrote in a prepared statement.

The governor also appeared to attempt to distance himself from financial decisions made about the UK Met investigation.

‘While not himself responsible for police-related budgets, the governor did at various points urge those who were responsible to be as careful as possible to keep down the costs these investigations,’ the Governor’s Office wrote.

It was Mr. Jack who publicly announced Operation Tempura’s existence in March 2008 after taking the decision to remove three top police commanders from RCIPS to facilitate investigations. Since then, one of those officials has been fired by the governor, another has been reinstated to the RCIPS, and a third, Mr. Dixon, is awaiting disciplinary proceedings after being cleared of criminal charges.

At least three individuals involved in the Tempura investigation have sued the Cayman Islands government. One of them, Grand Court Judge Alexander Henderson, won a CI$1.275 million settlement for his wrongful arrest by the UK Met team in September 2008.