After announcing that Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush was involved in three separate police investigations, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has declined to release any further information regarding those investigations.
RCIPS Commissioner David Baines said this week that speculation about those probes was “not helpful or fair”.
“Every investigation undertaken by law enforcement agencies is different,” Mr. Baines said in a prepared statement. “The speed with which an investigation can be completed is dependent on many factors and is often protracted – particularly financial investigations when the allegations involve witnesses and documentary evidence located within other legal jurisdictions.”
An announcement by Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor on 20 April – that Premier Bush was the subject of a second investigation – was followed by a news release in which Mr. Baines gave some details of two investigations regarding the premier and made public that a third one was under way.
Two of the cases involved “financial irregularities” and the third is connected to the importation of dynamite into Grand Cayman earlier this year that police said was done without the necessary permits.
“Whilst I appreciate that there will inevitably by a high level of interest in these investigation, the continuing speculation is not helpful, nor fair to those under investigation,” Mr. Baines said. “I will ensure that a thorough investigation is completed.”
Premier Bush indeed does seem to believe the announcement of the investigations proceeding against him to the public on 21 April was “inappropriate” on the part of Commissioner Baines and Governor Taylor.
“The premier, his government colleagues, and his supporters are of the opinion that the announcement of these investigations and their timing were designed to coincide with the visit of the UK Minister [Henry Bellingham] and to cause maximum embarrassment to the premier and the people of the Cayman Islands,” read a statement issued by Mr. Bush’s press secretary last month.
“The continual rumours of investigations without any formal notice to the premier, the possible involvement of certain civil servants in the [UK] Foreign and Commonwealth Office are reminiscent of – and consistent with – the Operation Tempura fiasco.” Governor Taylor has not responded to requests for comment from the Compass regarding claims made by Premier Bush that certain UK foreign office civil servants were attempting to “smear him” because they didn’t like him.
In any case, quite a bit is known regarding the investigations into Premier Bush.
The first, which started in February 2010, was first reported by the Caymanian Compass in June of last year.
That investigation involves what Mr. Bush has called a “real estate bill” sent to Atlanta, Georgia-based developer Stan Thomas in 2004.
The “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 of Grand Cayman. The amount sought for services was in excess of $300,000.
Opposition party members have said that it is not clear what services had been provided by the Windsor Development Company – whose letterhead was attached to the “bill” sent to Mr. Thomas in 2004. The company was owned by Mr. Bush’s wife, Kerry, at the time.
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 investigation into “financial irregularities”, as described by the police commissioner, is thought to involve another property transaction. Police have declined to comment on any specifics.
Although he is not the subject of the investigation, Mr. Bush’s name has come up in connection with what RCIPS described as an illegal explosives importation case that occurred in Grand Cayman earlier this year.
RCIPS representatives said the explosives “were imported into the Cayman Islands without the necessary paperwork”. The explosives – dynamite – are 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 …”
E-mail 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 has learned that Mr. Powery and Premier Bush did communicate on the issue of the dynamite importation, but precisely what was said or written is not known.
The Compass filed an open records request earlier this month seeking “all e-mail, 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.”
Mr. Powery has not responded to numerous attempts to contact him about the dynamite importation case.