More costs from Operation Tempura
A 185-page report that reviewed, in detail, complaints filed against certain members of the Cayman Islands judiciary and the attorney general’s office cost the territory $335,548.70.
The complaint came from the former senior police officer and a former legal adviser of the Operation Tempura corruption investigation, both of whom are from the United Kingdom.
The review that led to the 185-page report being issued was commissioned by Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor’s office – Her Majesty’s representative in the Cayman Islands – and performed by Benjamin Aina, QC.
Residents of the Cayman Islands, who paid the full amount for the review of the complaint filed by disbarred attorney Martin Polaine and carried forward by former Operation Tempura Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger, have seen neither the initial complaint nor the 185-page report on it submitted to the governor’s office by Mr. Aina.
“Mr. Aina was paid CI$335,548.70 by Cayman Islands government,” noted an e-mail sent from Governor Taylor’s office to a private individual that was shared with the Caymanian Compass. “This included professional fees, economy flights to and from the Cayman Islands and accommodation during Mr. Aina’s time here.”
Governor Taylor and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have previously offered detailed explanations for their refusals to release either the complaint pursued by Mr. Bridger or the report compiled on it by Mr. Aina.
“In early summer 2010, Mr. Martin Polaine made a complaint to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about certain aspects of the Operation Tempura investigation in the Cayman Islands,” a statement from Mr. Taylor read. “The complaint was referred to me, as governor, for consideration. Mr. Martin Bridger later asked to be considered a joint complainant. Mr. Polaine subsequently withdrew his complaint and Mr. Bridger took full ownership of it.
“I was not the governor during the period of Operation Tempura and did not have first-hand knowledge of events which had transpired during those years. Due to the factual and legal complexity of the complaint and the large amount of documents which had to be considered, in late August 2010 I instructed independent Queen’s Counsel from London to advise me on how to proceed [referring to Mr. Aina].
Mr. Taylor later said his office had dismissed all aspects of the complaint made by Mr. Bridger and he defended the integrity of the Cayman Islands judiciary.
“I have seen an article in the Financial Times dated 13 January, 2011, touching upon some of these matters,” Mr. Taylor said. “The allegations referred to in that article appear to be similar to certain allegations in the complaint. I consider that any allegations raised against the Judiciary of the Cayman Islands in that article inferring that they had conspired to frustrate or interfere with Operation Tempura are unfounded and without justification.”
Later in the year, attempts to get the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to release the initial complaint after it had been debunked were blocked, along with Mr. Aina’s report on the matter to the governor.
“Disclosure would be prejudicial to the effective conduct of international relations between the United Kingdom and the Cayman Islands, which depends upon maintaining trust and confidence between the governments,” the FCO response to an open records request read.
“We judge that disclosure of the information requested could lead to a loss of confidence within the international community, which could impact negatively on the Cayman Islands’ reputation and, more directly, on its financial services industry.”
“Also, the UK is concerned about ‘more circumspect reporting’ from the overseas territories’ governors if the people in those positions feel their reports from the territories will be subject to open records requests. [This] could in turn damage the United Kingdom’s ability to ensure the good governance of the overseas territories,” the FCO response read.
Mr. Bridger has declined on previous occasions to release copies of his complaint to the Caymanian Compass.