Ex-Gov sought delay in Tempura report release

Officials ‘annoyed’ with AG’s findings

Former Cayman Islands Governor Stuart Jack sought to delay the release of a 2009 auditor general’s report on the finances of the Operation Tempura and Operation Cealt corruption investigations, according to records obtained by the Caymanian Compass.  

Correspondence sought under the Freedom of Information Law by former Operation Tempura witness John Evans has also revealed that both then-Governor Jack and then-Deputy Chief Secretary Donovan Ebanks objected to the way the 2009 report’s findings were presented in several areas.  

A few months after the audit was issued, former Auditor General Dan Duguay was told he would have to re-apply for his post after he was given a three-month contract extension. Mr. Duguay lost out in his job bid to Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick. 

“[The report] does not set the unusual and evolving context in which this expenditure was incurred, particularly in the early stages,” then-Governor Jack wrote in a 15 July, 2009, letter to Mr. Duguay. “Operation Tempura was not a major project from day one. The then-police commissioner called in the Metropolitan Police Service with my agreement and the assistance of Larry Covington [UK Foreign and Commonwealth official who resides in Florida, USA] to carry out a specific investigation covertly. 

“We could not foretell at that stage that the investigation would develop into what it did.”  

In a separate response, sent the same day, Mr. Ebanks expressed his views, “I must confess that each time that I have read the report with the intention of commenting, it has so annoyed me that I felt it best to not do so in the mood that it generated.” 

In the July 2009 letter, then-Governor Jack noted concerns that releasing the auditor general’s report at the time two criminal trials involving individuals arrested during the course of Operation Tempura – former Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon and former Cayman Brac MLA Lyndon Martin – were due to proceed could “negatively impact” those cases. He also noted civil proceedings against the Crown over Tempura were being pursued, and still are being pursued, by former Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and retired RCIPS Inspector Burmon Scott.  

“The solicitor general rightly points out that ‘the full impact will not be known’ until matters are concluded,” Mr. Jack wrote. “This places us in a most awkward position.”  

A heavily-redacted 4 June, 2009, memo to Mr. Duguay from then-Solicitor General Cheryll Richards, which sought to correct several factual inaccuracies in the initial copy of the auditor’s report, addressed its potential impact.  

“In so far as there may be potential impact from the report on ongoing investigations [three paragraphs redacted] … the report is based entirely on factual matters and there do not appear to be any legal issues arising which could cause me to advise you that the usual course in issuing the report should be departed from. Accordingly, it remains matter entirely in your discretion.”  

After the auditor’s report was redrafted, Ms Richards opined, on 14 July, 2009, “… upon review of the second draft report, in so far as the facts cited are within our knowledge, there are no apparent difficulties.”  

A further email to Mr. Duguay on 17 July, 2009, from then-Assistant Solicitor General Doug Schofield stated, “Counsel expresses the view that, while the timing of the report’s release may be inconvenient (and may, in his words, ‘exasperate potential jurors’), it will not, on balance, unduly prejudice either the Crown or the defence.”  

Mr. Schofield further stated that release of the auditor general’s report during the trials of Messrs. Dixon and Martin “would be undesirable”.  

Mr. Duguay ended up withholding his office’s investigative findings until October 2009, after the two defendants in the Operation Tempura criminal trials had been found not guilty of public misconduct by local juries. Mr. Dixon was acquitted in October 2009, while Mr. Martin was cleared in September 2009.  

Shortly after the verdict was reached in Mr. Dixon’s trial, the auditor general’s report on Operations Tempura/Cealt was released.  

 

Findings 

The investigations were headed by officers from the UK Metropolitan Police and started in September 2007. 

Government estimates have put the entire cost of the investigations at CI$10 million or more, but specific breakdowns for those costs had not been revealed until former Auditor General Duguay released his office’s review. 

Mr. Duguay’s audit revealed CI$5.7 million was spent on Operations Tempura and Cealt from September 2007 to January 2009. His office estimated a further $1.1 million was spent from February through June 2009, but did not specifically review costs for that period. 

For the period of September 2007 through January 2009, the costs break down as follows: 

CI$1.3 million spent on contracted officers, UK Met police officers and other contract personnel. 

CI$541,619 spent on a consulting contract handled by a UK firm named BGP. 

CI$780,957 was spent on travel for police officers and their families, as well as others who assisted in the investigation. 

CI$443,235 was spent on housing for members of the police investigation team. 

CI$928,673 was paid out in legal expenses, including amounts needed to handle lawsuits filed over the police team’s actions. 

CI$197,320 was spent on office accommodation costs for the investigation team. 

CI$109,247 was spent on vehicle costs for officers. 

CI$1.275 million was paid to Grand Court Justice Alexander Henderson following his wrongful arrest in 2008 by representatives of the UK Met team; 

Mr. Duguay did not opine in his audit whether any of that expenditure represented good value for money to the Cayman Islands government. 

‘It’s almost impossible to say ‘here’s what … should have been paid.’’ Mr. Duguay said. ‘It’s a unique thing (referring to Operation Tempura.)’ 

 

Governor questions report 

In the 15 July, 2009 letter, then-Governor Jack noted he thought the auditor general’s report did not set out accurately the terms of reference for a strategic oversight group said to be in charge of the Tempura/Cealt investigations.  

“By the time [Operation Tempura Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger] and then BGP were employed on Cayman Islands government contracts, financial and contractual matters clearly resided with the Portfolio [of Internal and External Affairs]/RCIPS,” Mr. Jack wrote.  

Mr. Bridger’s contract was a “significant part” of the Operation Tempura expenditure, Mr. Jack said. However, he also stated it was “odd” the report focused on Mr. Bridger and other specific investigators involved in Operation Tempura as much as it did.  

Mr. Duguay’s report revealed that former Senior Investigating Officer Bridger was paid a total of CI$73,242 in salary between September 2007 and April 2008 as the lead detective in the probe known as Operation Tempura – about $9,155 per month. 

However, Mr. Bridger’s remuneration tripled after he retired from the UK Metropolitan Police force and became a special constable with the RCIPS. The audit shows Mr. Bridger then received a total salary of $247,000 between May 2008 and January 2009 – roughly $27,444 per month in salary alone. 

There were additional payments to Mr. Bridger during that May to January period totalling $181,634 for housing, travel and living expenses. 

In his audit, Mr. Duguay did not opine whether that expenditure represented good value for money to the Cayman Islands government. 

7 COMMENTS

  1. This is all a bit like shaking a tree and seeing what, or who, falls out of it. As I shake this tree harder more and more interesting things fall down.

    Amongst the documents released to me are two drafts of Dan Duguay’s report. These show that he was told to remove very useful material, which I now have, from the final report.

    Some of the redacted details raise serious questions about arrangements for the employment of four consultants in May 2008, this being outside the earlier full cost basis agreement with the Met.

    Using material sourced in the UK it is also becoming clear that Dan Duguay received information from the various parties involved in Tempura that was not true – they lied to him to cover up what was going on. I am still working on all this.

    The bottom line is that, despite all the money paid to various individuals and companies, Operations Tempura and Cealt have to date produced no tangible results in law enforcement terms. It is also clear from replies to recent enquiries directed through OT Minister Henry Bellingham that deliberate attempts have been, and still are being, made to cover up what happened – or, more accurately, did not happen.

    I think it is time to re-visit Dan Duguay’s audit of these operations in the light of what has emerged in the past months. In particular I think it is time to look at whether what was passed off at the time as special treatment for a unique project was actually used as an excuse by certain individuals to obtain large payments under questionable circumstances.

  2. Absolutely scandalous, I used to believe that we old not handle independence but now I have changed my mind. There is no viable opposition to UK rule. No- one to turn to, no way out.

  3. John

    I see where you’re going with this but…

    If you look at Operation Tempura and Cealt in the context of what has since happened in Britain, with the recent News of the World phone hacking scandal, you see where its all business as usual for those at the top of the police food chain, until some law has been broken for which they can be held responsible.

    John Yates is now gone, so is the former head of the Met…Bridger and his mates have been quietly pushed into the background…and that might be the best that you will get.

    I applaud you for your persistence in getting the information out into the public realm.

    I too, had a situation that needed to be investigated by Operation Tempura and had made my submissions to the FCO, through the Governors’s Office about 18 months before Operation Tempura was called in to Cayman…and, as an already British tax-payer residing and working in Cayman at the time, my report and complaint HAD to be taken seriously and investigated…it was a seemingly minor matter in comparison to what Operation Tempurs was actually about but when I considered that the actions of the RCIPS, in my case, had been politically motivated, the matter took on an entirely different meaning.

    If you accept that Cayman’s political heirarchy were involved in the issues that led to Operation Tempura from behind the scenes then you might have to accept that even if your answers are eventually forthcoming, in Cayman…

    No one really cares anymore; things and time, as well as some of us, have already, literally, moved on.

    For your own piece of mind, you might consider doing the same.

  4. Sorry Firery but you are wrong on this.

    Your argument is along the lines of a crime was committed but they got away with it and it’s now three years down the road so why bother? If we applied that to everything you could do away with the police, the courts, the jails and let chaos prevail.

    What next? Are you going to apply the same logic and suggest that Stuart Kernohan and Burmon Scott drop their civil claims because it’s taking so long to settle them?

    Things like this need to be decisively dealt with or they will re-occur. Stonewalling and dragging things out in the hope that members of the public will get bored and give up is SOP amongst police forces and I am amazed that someone with your attitude is backing them on this.

    The attempts made to bury what happened here are a scandal.

    Just to give you an example – At the end of May 2009 the SIO, who by that time had left the Cayman Islands for other things, not only demanded substantial changes to the audit report but went as far as employing a local lawyer to force those changes through during the following four months – eventually settling the matter on 21 September 2009.

    When this whole legal process started the SIO was no longer an employee of CIG and his name had already been largely redacted from the report at the request of Governor Stuart Jack. If he had done nothing wrong, he could simply have taken his money walked away from it all.

    In the event he was so concerned about the contents of the report that a conversation (described as a briefing) with Dan Duguay was recorded and another with Martin Ruben was reported as having been documented. It’s only speculation on my part but this looks like rather more than attempts to put the record straight.

    I now have the original, unredacted, report so have a pretty good idea what he was trying to hide. There are more FOI requests in the pipeline and I’m sure this won’t be the last you read about Operation Tempura.

  5. John/Victorlookloy…

    These comments are in response and relevant to both of your last comments on this topic.

    John first to you…please don’t misinterpret my statements to you as condoning what has happened.

    I know as much as anyone who has not been privy to the classified documents, about the situation that led up to the events from which Operation Tempura evolved; these circumstances had been created BEFORE the years of Stuart Jack’s tenure as Governor in Cayman and Stuart Kernohan’s tenure as Commiseioner of Police.

    At the heart of the matter had always been the late Desmond Seales’s (RIP) career as a journalist and media entrapeneur in Cayman which brought him into conflict with many high-ranking and influential people.

    What I’m saying is that when high-ranking officials break the laws that they themselves have created and enforced, it much more difficult and sometimes nigh IMPOSSIBLE to call them to justice.

    This is not an admirable fact but it is the reality of the system in which we live and survive.

    I can say with full confidence to both of you that the questionable things that take place in Cayman, take place with the COLUSION of both the high officials in the British Government and the politically elected high officials in Cayman.

    When these actions are exposed, both parties hold each other to blame but this is only for public consumption; a clear examination of all the evidennce at hand shows something completely different, as it clearly does in this case.

    The administrators of the British Government in Cayman, the Governor and Commissioner of Police are not at the heart of the decisions that are made at the higher levels of power.

    They only carry out the orders they are given, by both British and Caymanian individuals who are in these higher halls of power.

    Victorlookloy…after having lived in Cayman for many years and being the independent-minded, outspoken individual that you are, you should be aware of the pressure that had been applied to Cayman Net News ever since Mr. Seales re-emerged after his well-known brushes with the law…you also know well how Cayman’s political and law-enforcement systems work.

    To both you of worthy gentlemen…all I’m saying is that, at times, some of the things that go wrong will never be totally put right, at least not in our lifetime and…

    This entire, scandalous and definitely criminal affair is beginning to look like of those times.

  6. Firery, by dragging the name of my late employer into this you are diverting attention from the real issues.

    Whilst editorial comments posted by Cayman Net News during late 2008 and early 2009 may have been planted to try and rescue Operation Tempura from the fall out from Cresswell there’s no suggestion that Mr Seales was involved in any of the matters currently under investigation. In fact to try and do so shows incredible disrespect and a fundamental lack of understanding of what went on.

    Love him or loath him, if Desmond was still around I am sure he would also be looking at this material with more than a passing interest.

    I am also tired of this pathetic attitude – there’s nothing we can do about it so why bother. It sounds like you’ve spent too long in the UK. If you want to live your life that way fine, you’ll fit in very well in my country. Personally I prefer, although it’s not currently fashionable, the – I would rather die on my feet than live my knees outlook.

  7. John

    You’ve chosen to interpret my comments in your own way and that is your choice.

    I haven’t draggged the name of your late employer, Mr. Seales into anything…what you’ve refused to acknowledge is that your late employer was at the heart of this entire affair from before you became his employee, both by his own actions and by the actions of others, over which he had entirely no control.

    I, and many others in Cayman, knew and had an acquaintance with Mr. Seales long before you ever alighted on Cayman’s shores and our understanding of this affair goes further back than yours; than much I can guarantee you.

    I admire your tenacity and fully respect your values; if you actually knew anything about me other than what you read on this forum, you would know that mine are quiate similar.

    I am thankful for the details that your efforts are producing, at least as far as what is not already in the public realm; there will probably be much more revealed when Stuart Kernohan’s case goes to court, if it ever does.

    My bet is that it is finally settled out of court and certain information never sees the light of day, similar to Rudi Dixon being given a handsome payday to quietly go away.

    If you actually believe that it is easier to live as a lion, than as a lamb in Cayman, rather than in England, then you don’t really know the Cayman that I come from.

    If you actually finally do achieve your ultimate goal, my views will change but…

    I won’t be holding my breath or betting my life on it.

    In any event, good luck to you in your quest.

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