Second arrest in corruption probe

A second man was arrested Tuesday in connection with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s high-profile corruption investigation involving the British Overseas Territory’s premier.  

RCIPS officials confirmed that the man – identified as Suresh Prasad – was arrested at his home in George Town on Tuesday in connection with the importation of explosive substances without valid permits on or before February 2012.

No charges were immediately filed in the investigation, although both Mr. Prasad and Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush were returned to police custody on Wednesday for further questioning.

Mr. Prasad, like Mr. Bush, has now been released on police bail until early February 2013 while enquiries continue.

“The man has been arrested on suspicion of breach of trust, abuse of office and conflict of interest (contrary to Sections 13, 17 and 19 of the Anti-Corruption Law 2008 respectively) and inciting a breach of the corruption law,” the police statement read.  

No charges were immediately filed in the investigation, although both Mr. Prasad and Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush were returned to police custody on Wednesday for further questioning.  

The second arrest was curious, given that Midland Acres Limited was fined a $1,300 after its director, Mr. Prasad, entered pleas of guilty on the quarrying company’s behalf to four charges of importing explosives without a permit at the conclusion of a court case on the matter earlier this year. Charges against Mr. Prasad personally were left “on file” with the court, according to reports. 

The defence attorney in the previous court case, George Keightley, declined to comment when contacted on Wednesday.  

Under the Cayman Islands Explosives Law, it is an offence to import explosives without the written authorisation of the managing director of the National Roads Authority. The maximum fine is $1,000. Forfeiture of the imported materials is mandatory unless the court has good reasons to direct otherwise.  

The items imported were described in the charges as an emulsion containing ammonium nitrate and petroleum distillates all weighing a total of 50,000 pounds (net).  

The court heard that the blasting material was brought into Grand Cayman in February 2012, and that it had been kept by the National Roads Authority, which by law oversees matters pertaining to explosives. Crown prosecutors said the authority’s acting managing director, Edward Howard, had expressed concern about the material, which the court previously heard had a limited shelf life of about six months.  

Those other items imported were 100 electric detonators and 2,500 non-electric detonators; 2,000 units of nitro-methane Kinepak Liquid all weighing a total of 480 pounds (net); Ammonium Nitrate – Kinepax Solid all weighing a total of 1,734 pounds (net).  

 

Letters  

The Caymanian Compass received copies of correspondence earlier this year between parties interested in the explosives importation.  

After a substantial back-and-forth that involved local businesses, customs and the National Roads Authority it was decided by early March 2012 that the explosives would not be released.  

Mr. Prasad appealed to Mr. Bush for “consideration in an urgent matter” with his letter of 4 March.  

“Currently, the material is secured with customs awaiting instructions from the review of the application by the NRA,” he said. “We are scheduled to meet with the managing director of the NRA to discuss the matter on Monday morning and hopefully resolve all concerns. At present, we are cognizant of the NRA’s role and respect their concern, yet we would ask any discussion to also be mindful of the large investment of funds tied up in the purchasing of these goods and each day delayed will further add to our cost and the trickle down economic attributes to many previously unemployed local blue collar workers. 

“Thank you for your consideration and any assistance possible.” 

Premier Bush then wrote to Mr. Powery on 7 March, 2012, and copied the correspondence to former NRA Director Brian Tomlinson. 

“By way of this memorandum, I request that the blasting materials for Midland Acres, which are currently held by HM Customs, be released (please see letter attached).” Mr. Bush wrote. “I would be grateful for this request to be expedited as the company is desperately in need of the materials to proceed with their ongoing projects. 

“Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter.” It is assumed the letter attached was the letter from Midland Acres to Mr. Bush, but that could not be verified. 

Mr. Bush has denied that his letter to Mr. Powery represented political interference, only a request to expedite the matter so that the project could continue. 

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