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.
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.