East End Member of the Legislative Assembly Arden McLean has been cleared in an anti-corruption investigation involving allegations that he was allowed to pay his electricity bill more than a year late during a time when government was negotiating its electricity contract with Caribbean Utilities Company.
Mr. McLean, as Minister of Works and Infrastructure at the time, had ultimate responsibility for negotiation of the electricity contract.
On 17 April, the East End representative received a letter from Anti-Corruption Commission chairman David Baines notifying Mr. McLean that he had been cleared following an investigation by the commission.
“There is no evidence to substantiate that you have committed any offence in contravention of the Anti-Corruption Law, 2008, or any other criminal legislation,” Mr. Baines wrote. “There is no justification for undertaking any further investigation into this complaint.”
In a written statement to the media, delivered to the Caymanian Compass on Thursday, Mr. McLean said the “desperate” and “spurious” allegations made against him by Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush over the late electrical bill were akin to “a drowning man clutching at straws”.
“There is nothing criminal or corrupt about paying your bill late,” Mr. McLean said, adding that he agreed to allow CUC to provide records of his electric bills to the Anti-Corruption Commission to facilitate its investigation.
“I have set an example, which I challenge the premier to follow,” he said. “Rather than trumping up allegations against honest servants of the people to deflect attention from his own criminal investigation for financial irregularities, the premier should provide a full, satisfactory explanation of the matters that led to the corruption investigation he has been under for over two years now.”
Mr. Bush announced in March that he had sent a letter to Mr. Baines that dealt with allegations against Mr. McLean and the late payment of the electricity bill.
“I would ask that his [referring to Mr. McLean] matter be investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission,” Mr. Bush said. “Why was his electrical bill not paid for more than a year?”
The letter to Mr. Baines stated that this occurred during the course of government’s negotiations with CUC and opined that it could amount to a “conflict of interest”.
Mr. McLean, responding to Mr. Bush’s allegations last month, said he had paid his light bill and that the premier’s accusations simply didn’t add up.
“Does it make sense that CUC can waive my bill during negotiation and we will still raise their rate?” he said.
Mr. McLean said he had some disputes with CUC over the cost of his home’s electricity bills, but said that has since been resolved.
“We had discussions about how much the bill was, but I have always had to pay my bills. Is this the best McKeeva can do?”
Mr. McLean’s comments regarding the corruption investigation into Premier Bush’s activities refer to a Financial Crime Unit probe, begun in February 2010 into what Mr. Bush has called a “real estate bill” sent to Atlanta, Georgia-based developer Stanley Thomas. The 2004 bill sought payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars for services rendered in a transaction that involved a property Mr. Thomas owned along the Seven Mile Beach corridor. Opposition party members have said that it is not clear what services exactly had been provided by the Windsor Development Company, the real estate firm owned by Mr. Bush’s wife.
During a June political event along Seven Mile Beach, Mr. Bush addressed the allegations: “[The opposition’s] plan is to get me investigated, say that I’ve done something, take a real estate bill that I billed someone and say that I’ve done something wrong and then they’re going to investigate me further; that is their game plan. They can’t convict me because the truth will prevail. But what they will do in the meantime is try to tear the government down. No matter the police investigation they have called to try and put me away, which have all proven nothing, because you can’t twist things to say something is bad when the facts are not real and it is not there.”
Mr. McLean said Thursday that Mr. Bush should now “be eager to demonstrate his innocence to the world”.
“The country has waited long enough,” Mr. McLean said.
Mr. Bush issued the following statement Thursday evening in response to Mr. McLean:
“I didn’t accuse Mr. McLean of corruption. What I said in Bodden Town was… “Mr. McLean should explain to the country, why, if what he said on radio was true, his electricity bill was not paid for more than a year.” This was during the time he was negotiating or had negotiated a sweetheart deal for Caribbean Utilities Company that resulted in our people paying higher electricity bills. I asked that this matter be investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission. No details of his CUC bills have been explained by him.
“While Mr. McLean and his cohorts have done their endeavour best to smear me and I hear them say of an investigation, I know of none. It strikes me, though, rather odd that there would be a criminal investigation of me when, while he was a sitting member he could negotiate such a lucrative agreement with CUC while no paying this electrical bills as he admitted.
”It doesn’t surprise me that Arden McLean and cohorts don’t recognise the very dangerous game of international politics that is being played against the CI and using me as a scapegoat to do so, which he and his pals are only facilitating by scandalising me. I can only pity him and continue to pray for my country. I have done no wrong. I therefore can say my hands are clean and my heart is pure.”