Local police, UK Met haggle over costs
Documents released under a United Kingdom Freedom of Information request reveal that, in the view of the Cayman Islands government, some charges accumulated by the UK Metropolitan Police during the ill-fated Operation Tempura investigation could not be reconciled with proper receipts or invoices.
It’s unclear from documents released under the FOI request exactly how much in “final payments” Cayman ended up sending to the UK, but the amount was easily hundreds of thousands of British pounds.
The issue arose in December 2009, when an unnamed employee of the RCIPS e-mailed the Met police regarding the deployment of the organisation’s officers to Cayman to assist in the misconduct and corruption investigation that became known as Operation Tempura.
For the period between April and September 2009, the RCIPS employee stated that no supporting documentation existed for travel charges, mobile phone charges or Barclaycard expenses.
“I require the supporting documentation in the event of an audit!” the RCIPS employee wrote.
What followed over the next several months was a series of e-mails where UK Met officials demanded payment of £525,325.41 in “overdue debts” from the Cayman Islands government.
Those charges included £188,005.40 for the UK Met’s deployment to Cayman between July-September 2008, £125,137.04 for deployment of those officers between October-December 2008, the deployment of Met officers here between January-March 2009 was charged £105,569.27, and a total of £104,613.70 spent on the deployment between April-September 2009.
UK Met officials warned the Cayman Islands government that the receipts were overdue by several months as of early 2010, but local officials noted they still could not reconcile some of the charges with receipts provided.
“With the publicity Operation Tempura has achieved here in Cayman, it is safe to assume internal audit will look closely at all expenses associated with Operation Tempura,” the unnamed RCIPS employee wrote to UK Met officials in February 2010.
By April 2010, an agreement had been reached to pay £246,023.48 of the expenses owed for salary and overtime of UK Met officers working in Cayman on behalf of Operation Tempura.
However, according to a 6 April, 2010, e-mail, the remaining costs including officers’ travel, expenses and phone bills could not be “rationalised”.
“The delay in progressing the [payment] authorisation has to do with the accountants in the RCIPS and Portfolio [of Internal and External Affairs] being unable to justify or rationalise claims connected to the travel/expenses and covert phones from the information provided,” the 6 April e-mail stated.
By the next month, May 2010, a “settlement figure” for the remaining costs of £206,000 was reached, apparently after some telephone negotiations. UK Met officials agreed to give the Cayman Islands government a “credit” of some £19,000 for credit card bills during the covert stages of the Operation Tempura investigation for which there was an “absence of supporting documentation”.
According to records provided, it appears Cayman spent more than £450,000 (CI$591,000 at current exchange rates) to settle up all remaining UK Met costs related to Operation Tempura.