Report cost $335k, kept under wraps

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. 

Gov Duncan Taylor

Mr. Taylor

Martin Bridger

Mr. Bridger

3 COMMENTS

  1. I obtained this information as part of an on-going investigation into the conduct of Operations Tempura and Cealt, and exactly how much they cost the people of the Cayman Islands.

    The figure revealed is actually a bit less than I expected and the choice of Mr Aina makes a lot of sense as he had already been involved in the early stages of the Levers inquiry so had local knowledge.

    What does not make sense is why this investigation was ever conducted in the first place. It is quite clear from material in my possession that the FCO simply gave in after considerable political pressure was applied to force the complaint through. Strictly speaking it was nothing to do with them so they just took the easy option and passed it on to the Governor to sort out. But was it really worth one-third of a million dollars of your money simply to keep two disgruntled individuals quiet? Because that is what this looks like to me.

    We know that both the authors had not been directly involved with the investigations (and therefore should have ceased to have access to material from them) for more than a year before the original complaint was presented to the FCO. We know that during that period one of them had been disbarred as a direct result of professional misconduct during the operations whilst the other had what he felt were unresolved issues with members of the judiciary named in the complaint. On this basis the document could easily have been ignored as ‘sour grapes’ on Day One.

    So the investigation was completed and, hardly surprisingly, the complaints turned out to be not only unfounded but defamatory. Based on the extracts published by the Financial Times some of the defamatory material in the complaint could attract criminal charges under Cayman Islands Law but instead the report has been buried. Apparently not even some of those whose reputation and standing were attacked in it having been made aware of the contents.

    As the story says this is just the latest in a long line of avoidable expenses incurred during these operations. CI1.25million for wrongful arrest, half-a-million to deal with the fallout from Cresswell’s report, at least another half-million paid to four retired Met officers for doing work that could have been by serving officers for a fraction of that cost and it goes on, and on, and on………….. This is just another CI337,548.70 gone down the same drain as the rest of it.

    I have been pushing simply for the May 2009 audit into Tempura/Cealt to be re-visited on the basis of material revealed through FOI requests and other official channels during the past year, and for that audit to be completed as far as possible. This is an in-house CIG process and whilst there will be a nominal cost it should be covered by services already funded rather than anything outsourced. So why isn’t it happening?

  2. In the interest of national security? Indeed.. This seem to be in the interest of the QC bank account. Why did the Foreign Office not investigate the complaint, or advise the Governor to disregard it.

    Shakespeare; where are you?

  3. LET the truth be told and nothing but the truth so help us god.What am I saying this is Cayman a British over seas territory. WHERE is the Governance, oh that right this is it. WE paid for it so please can I watch it and hear it MR GOVERNOR the proof is in the pudden. GOD love a balance budget and a just weight is his delight.WHEN pride cometh then cometh shame. THE integrity of the up right shall guide them, but the perverness of transgressors shall destroy them. RICHES profit not in the day of wrath, and the wicked shall fall by his wickedness.

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