As time goes on, it becomes less likely that Arthur Screaton is going to return to the Cayman Islands to face criminal charges.
Justice Alex Henderson asked the court on 12 October if Screaton, a long-time Cayman Islands resident, was present for the case against him.
“No,” answered Screaton’s attorney John Furniss. “It’s a matter where he failed to answer bail after being granted permission to travel.”
“Who granted permission?” Judge Henderson asked.
“The Grand Court,” Mr. Furniss answered. “He travelled out and never returned.”
Crown Counsel Michael Snape noted that while Screaton is a Canadian national, he had been in Cayman 16 years with permanent residence and ties to the community.
“There are other options the Crown is going to pursue,” Mr. Snape said.
“You can always extradite him,” Mr. Henderson said.
“There is a warrant outstanding,” Mr. Snape said. The case was adjourned generally. At press time it had not been rescheduled.
Screaton pleaded not guilty in March to two charges of theft and two charges of false accounting. He is accused of stealing $4,132 and $6,723 from Rackam’s Bar and C-Blu Lounge between 1 October, 2010, and 31 December, 2010. The alleged false accounting was said to have taken place during the same period. Screaton has not been convicted of any crime in relation to the alleged thefts.
Screaton had applied for permission to travel to Colorado in the United States to spend time with his family. When the Crown did not object, Justice Charles Quin varied his bail to allow travel on condition that Screaton supply the court with his itinerary and post a surety of $10,000.
According to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Screaton had left Cayman and travelled back while he was under investigation in connection with the case last year. He wasn’t charged with theft until October 2011.
During the time when the alleged thefts occurred, Screaton was managing Lone Star bar, Carlos and Martin’s restaurant and Rackam’s pub; all of which are owned by local real estate agent Kim Lund.
“He was my general manager just to oversee all three of them,” Mr. Lund said, adding that Screaton was hired in May 2009 and left in February or March of 2011 after he was arrested. “Arthur was my friend, I knew him for 25 years, I trusted him … liked him.”
Mr. Lund said during an interview last month that he believes his businesses will never re-coup the money now.
“Funds were being taken, accounts were being changed and it was only when he was involved,” Mr. Lund said. “I’m never going to recover this money, in my opinion.
“The bottom line: I’ve been ripped off. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s $75,000 or $100,000; I’m never going to see it again.”
Screaton is not the only individual who has gone absent from Cayman in the face of a criminal investigation.
The most publicised case in recent times has been the departure of former University College of the Cayman Islands President Hassan Syed, who charged more than US$50,000 of jewellery on the credit cards he was issued by the university.
In addition to jewellery, the auditor general’s office determined Syed used his UCCI credit cards to pay for thousands of dollars worth of goods at department stores in Toronto and London, for furniture, spa treatments and even for a week-long stay at a villa in France that he purchased at a Rotary Club auction in May 2007.
“Based on our preliminary review, an estimated US$294,000 of credit card transactions could not be adequately substantiated as UCCI’s expenditure,” then-Auditor General Dan Duguay’s report stated.
Some of the unsubstantiated credit card charges were subsequently identified as personal expenses to Syed and deducted from his salary, school officials said. The former UCCI president has never been charged in absentia by local police.
Another case involves the 2007 departure of Daniel Peter Vanderwerff from the Cayman Islands. Vanderwerff, charged with stealing US$230,647.29 from K-Coast Development Ltd., was bailed on terms that included a cash bond and a $50,000 charge on property he owned here.
A second set of charges was brought on 8 November, 2007. Three alleged that Vanderwerff falsified payment instructions in the computer system of K-Coast, his employers, by entering false amounts for payment. A fourth charge related to obtaining a wire transfer for CI$84,000 by deception.
On 27 November, 2007, there was an emergency application to vary his bail because Vanderwerff had fallen from a roof and fractured his pelvis. The court was told he needed to be airlifted off-island.
He was granted permission to leave the jurisdiction for medical treatment and his passport was returned to him. He never returned, forfeiting the cash bond on his house.
According to a report in the Calgary Free Press, Vanderwerff had been working as a construction practice manager for a firm named Omicron as late as this year.
A receptionist at the company told the Calgary paper the wanted man left his position there in mid-January.
Compass journalist Carol Winker contributed to this report.