Two high-ranking members of Boatswain’s Beach/Cayman Turtle Farm management disputed several claims made by former managing director Joey Ebanks regarding salary advances he received while working at the farm between 2007 and early 2009.
Those employees also rebutted claims made earlier by Mr. Ebanks that a CI $6,500 tab he ran up at Schooner’s Bar on the Turtle Farm property over the course of several months was for promotional purposes.
In addition, Auditor General Dan Duguay revealed to the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee that he had reported a $51,747 cash deposit made by Mr. Ebanks in April to pay off the salary advances to the Cayman Islands Financial Reporting Authority. The authority reviews unusual bank transactions and will forward information about those to the appropriate agencies – including the police – if necessary.
An audit by Mr. Duguay showed that Mr. Ebanks, while he was managing director, received 16 separate loans for various amounts. More than $65,000 was loaned in all. Some $16,000 had already been repaid by Mr. Ebanks, according to audit records.
Mr. Ebanks also had to repay some $1,900 he was given in turtle meat from the farm.
None of those loans were approved by the Turtle Farm’s board of directors and Mr. Duguay said proper documentation was found for only one of the 16 loans.
Joelle McCrae, the farm’s human resources manager, told the committee he was made aware of the loans in November 2008, but only discovered the true extent of what had been occurring in January 2009.
Mr. McCrae said he signed an advance form for Mr. Ebanks in January, but stated shortly after that he was not going to approve any further amounts.
On 6 February, Mr. McCrae said another request from Mr. Ebanks for a salary advance was presented to him, as well as Turtle Farm Chief Financial Officer Vijay Parabdeem.
‘I went to [Mr. Parabdeem] and he said ‘not again’,’ Mr. McCrae told the committee. ‘(Mr. Parabdeem) refused to sign it and I took it back to Mr. Ebanks and he signed it himself.’
Mr. Ebanks testified before the Public Accounts Committee that he had previously urged senior staff members to express any concerns they had about the loans to the board of directors.
Mr. McCrae said that just wasn’t true.
‘I was specifically directed at three staff meetings that I had no authority to address any board member about salary advances,’ Mr. McCrae said.
‘You were instructed (by Mr. Ebanks) not to inform the board?’ committee member, West Bay MLA Cline Glidden Jr. asked.
‘Yes sir,’ Mr. McCrae answered. ‘I’ve only had the opportunity to sit in one board meeting (on 23 January) and [Mr. Ebanks] was present.’
Read much more about this story in Monday’s Caymanian Compass…..