Reactions to Mr. Bush’s arrest were widely varied.
Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:
“I am aware that the Honourable Premier, McKeeva Bush, has been arrested this morning in connection with a number of ongoing police investigations. The reasons for the arrest have been set out in the statement issued by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
“The conduct of criminal investigations in the Cayman Islands is a matter for the Police Commissioner. If evidence is brought to his attention which leads him to suspect that an offence or offences may have been committed, I expect him to carry out a robust, fair and comprehensive investigation, regardless of the individual concerned. I am confident that the Police Commissioner will ensure that this applies to the ongoing investigations involving the Premier.
“I would like to reassure the people of the Cayman Islands of my commitment and that of the whole of the Cayman Islands Government to ensure the continued effective functioning of the government and the continued efficient delivery of services to the public.”
The opposition People’s Progressive Movement called the premier’s arrest “a grave situation” for the Cayman Islands in a statement released around noon Tuesday.
“The arrest of the Premier is a hugely damaging body blow to the reputation of these islands and to confidence in our government. It will do immense harm to our credibility as an international business centre and a place to work and do business.
“The social and economic interests of these Islands depend on Mr. Bush’s colleagues in the Cabinet and on the Government Backbench acting swiftly and resolutely in this matter to return normalcy to the operations of Government and to prevent the further hemorrhaging of the country’s image and reputation.
“Accepted international best practice and the conventions of the Westminster system of government provide clear guidance as to the course of action that ought now to be followed by Mr. Bush and his Cabinet and supporting backbench MLAs.”
“I’m truly sorry for what is happening to our premier,” said Ed Solomon. “I totally respect him. I know that he’s a commendable leader and a good person. The allegations against him I don’t know, so I can’t make any comment. But I will truly keep him in my prayers and God bless him and keep him.”
“Being a supporter for years, it’s a pity,” said Ted Gray. “He’s one of the most decisive, go ahead people there is.”
“This isn’t the first time a leader of a country has been accused and you’ve got to be careful,” Sarah Clarke said. “It’s like Lance Armstrong, who did a lot of good and he had to step down because of what he did was wrong.”
The Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce released a statement about the arrest: “The arrest of the Premier on alleged breach of trust, abuse of office and theft [allegations] demonstrates Cayman’s robust law enforcement and anti-corruption systems and the Islands’ intolerance with any alleged unethical behaviour or corruption even at the highest level of political office. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s Financial Crime Unit’s investigation leading up to today’s arrest has been ongoing for several months and the economy has continued to perform robustly providing quality services and products to the world’s financial markets, international visitors and investors.
“We are wholly confident that that same level of integrity and service will continue as the case works its way through the judicial system. The Chamber of Commerce unequivocally supports all actions by law enforcement officials to root out any unethical behaviour that may damage the reputation of the Cayman Islands as a leading international financial centre and as a quality jurisdiction to conduct business and invest.”
The Cayman Islands financial services sector also responded to questions about the arrest.
Anthony Travers, senior partner at Travers, Thorp, Alberga, commented on the arrest: “It is too early to comment on the substance of these matters .The timing given the recent arrest of Mr Misick, the former Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, however does not appear coincidental and if these charges are found by the Court to be ill-founded, then that aspect will need to be considered. Under the Constitution, the financial services industry operates quite independently of the political arm of the Legislature under the regulatory regime of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority and is unaffected by any change in government leadership.”
David Marchant, the publisher of Offshore Alert, actually took a more positive view on matters: “Strange though this might seem, I believe it will have a positive effect on Cayman’s reputation internationally because it demonstrates the jurisdiction is prepared to take action against individuals regardless of status. The measure of any country or jurisdiction is not that scandals occur but what it does about them when they surface. The worst thing any jurisdiction can do is bury its head in the sand. This has been the traditional approach in Cayman and the jurisdiction’s reputation overseas has suffered because of it. With one action today, that has changed for the better.”