The stunning revelations kept on coming in the Cayman Islands over the weekend as Royal Cayman Islands Police announced that Premier McKeeva Bush was actually involved in not one, not two, but three police investigations.
The police statement read as follows: “The RCIPS can confirm that there are a number of investigations currently ongoing involving the Premier of the Cayman Islands, the Hon. McKeeva Bush.
“One involves allegations of financial irregularities in relation to a land deal.
“In addition, a further allegation of financial irregularities has been made which is entirely separate from the first investigation.
“Finally, allegations have been made in relation to the involvement of the Premier in the periphery of a recent incident where a quantity of explosives were imported to the Cayman Islands without the necessary permit.
“All three of these investigations are actively ongoing. The Governor and the FCO are being kept fully updated.”
Governor Duncan Taylor said Friday that Premier Bush was facing a second investigation, the details of which he didn’t specify.
“There is a further investigation, a second investigation, involving the Premier,” Mr. Taylor told reporters after some prodding about whether there were any additional criminal queries involving Mr. Bush, other than one concerning “financial irregularities” that has been under way for more than two years now.
“[It’s] probably better that I don’t comment on it beyond that,” Mr. Taylor said, leaving his statement completely unexplained.
A spokesperson for the Premier was emailed Mr. Taylor’s comment and said he would contact Mr. Bush. The Premier’s office later noted that it couldn’t comment and that Mr. Bush was trying to determine what Governor Taylor was talking about.
Mr. Bush said in a broadcast address to the country Thursday night that he did not know of any investigation that involved him.
Governor Taylor’s vague statement about the investigation was not the only trouble for Premier Bush revealed at Friday’s press briefing.
UK Overseas Territories Minister Henry Bellingham, on the last night of his visit to Cayman, noted that Britain currently had “concerns over the procurement process” used during negotiations for the proposed cruise port berthing facility in George Town.
The government has been in talks with China Harbour Engineering on the deal which also seeks to place a cruise facility in West Bay and make improvements to the Spotts dock area.
“I’ve asked [the Premier] to reassure me as to how he will bring this process back in line with international best practice,” Mr. Bellingham said, noting that Mr. Bush had agreed to seek the views of the Central Tenders Committee chairman, as well as the auditor general’s office before proceeding with the project.
Mr. Bush has previously said he hoped the George Town port project could be started in September.
Also, Governor Taylor admitted that it was unlikely the Cayman Islands government would be able to effect the divestment of its sewerage system by the end of the current budget year, 30 June.
Not being able to divest that system would leave government scrambling to find an additional $19 million within its budget over the next two months.
The UK, as part of its three-year financial plan with the Cayman Islands, has not allowed the territory to borrow money during the current 2011/12 fiscal year or in the upcoming 2012/13 year.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service earlier confirmed that its officers were investigating the importation of a quantity of dynamite to Grand Cayman in March.
RCIPS representatives said the explosives “were imported into the Cayman Islands without the necessary paperwork”. The explosives are now in possession of the Customs Department. The importer’s identity is not being revealed by the Compass, but it was not Mr. Bush.
Under the Explosives Law (2008 Revision): “Whoever, not being authorised in writing by the managing director [referring to the managing director of the National Roads Authority] in that behalf has in his possession or control, sells, buys, barters, deals in, stores, imports, exports or uses any explosives or aids abets or suffers any person under his control so to do is guilty of an offence …”
Email correspondence between Cayman Islands Customs Collector Carlon Powery and other individuals regarding explosives shipped to Grand Cayman earlier this year has been withheld from public release by Customs.
The Compass filed an open records request earlier this month seeking “all email, written or other correspondence sent to, received by or mailed out by Customs Collector Carlon Powery regarding any and all containers of explosives that arrived on Grand Cayman in 2012”.
A response received from Customs about a week later indicated the following: “Your application has been regrettably denied as the record[s] requested is an exempt record[s] pursuant to section 16[b][i] of the Freedom of Information Law, 2007. This is an ongoing investigation and the disclosure of the requested information … would/could reasonably affect the conduct of the investigation or prosecution of a breach or possible breach of the law.”
Collector Powery has not responded to repeated requests for comment on the matter.
A Financial Crime Unit probe began 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.”
The second allegation concerning financial irregularities was not specified by police.