Cops looking into corruption allegations
A high-ranking member of Cayman’s National Housing Development Trust board was arrested Monday at his George Town home in connection with a misconduct investigation by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
Sources familiar with the probe said the investigation into trust-related matters had been proceeding for a number of months and was not directly connected to the construction of affordable homes in East End and West Bay.
The housing trust recently opened 12 affordable homes in East End for qualifying members of the public approved under the lower income home-buying programme.
Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam said Tuesday that the individual – who the Caymanian Compass is not naming because he had not been charged by press time – had resigned from the housing trust board either late Monday or early Tuesday.
According to a statement released by police on Monday: “The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has launched an investigation into allegations of misconduct within the National Housing Development Trust.
“As part of that investigation a 59-year-old man was arrested at his home in the George Town area [Monday] morning. He was arrested in terms of sections 13 and 17 of the Anti-Corruption Law 2010, as well as suspicion of obtaining property by deception.”
Sections 13 and 17 of Cayman’s Anti-Corruption Law relate to breach of trust and abuse of public office, respectively.
Section 13 reads: “A public officer or member of the Legislative Assembly who, in connection with the duties of his office, commits fraud or a breach of trust is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term of five years, whether or not the fraud or breach of trust would be an offence if it were committed by a private person.”
Section 17 reads: “A public officer or a member of the Legislative Assembly who does or directs to be done, in abuse of the authority of his office, any arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of another, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term of two years.”
Section 17 also notes the prison term becomes three years upon conviction if the abuse of office is done for purposes of a loan, reward or other advantage or benefit.
The Compass has learned some complaints related to the housing trust project in East End were made to MLA Arden McLean about a year ago.
Mr. McLean declined to discuss the specific nature of the allegations.
“There were many complaints made to me by my constituents surrounding that housing project,” Mr. McLean said Tuesday. “I have a responsibility as a representative for the people of East End. Part of that responsibility is to protect them from vultures … or anything that would adversely affect them.”
Mr. McLean said, in his view, some of the complaints were “serious”, but he wasn’t aware what became of them after their forwarding to the appropriate authorities.
“It’s disappointing to say the least … that a public official has been arrested,” he said. “I hope this doesn’t affect the people of East End moving into those homes. My understanding is the [National Housing Development Trust] shut down [Monday].”
Minister Adam said there should not be any interruption to the affordable housing initiative in East End because of the arrest.
“We have about nine of [the East End homes] occupied, and the others are just a matter of time,” Mr. Adam said.
The Compass contacted the offices of the housing trust on Dorcy Drive in George Town, which were open on Tuesday morning. General Manager Janet James directed questions to the housing office when she was contacted on Tuesday.
Police declined to comment further as to whether they had searched the housing trust offices as part of their investigation.
Attempts to contact other National Housing Trust Board members were not successful by press time.