From the time former Premier McKeeva Bush took office, he spent a total of 545 days abroad on 74 separate trips. However, the public doesn’t know how much money was spent on Mr. Bush’s travels.
That’s because the Ministry of Finance, Tourism and Development is refusing to disclose the former premier’s travel-related expenses, citing the police investigation into his government credit card expenditures.
In response to an open records request submitted by the Caymanian Compass in April, officials released information indicating that from June 2009 to December 2012, Mr. Bush travelled to more than 100 destinations, with a total of 403 days for business and 142 days for personal purposes.
The list does not include Mr. Bush’s final trip as premier to Jamaica last week to speak at a university commencement ceremony.
In addition to travel dates, destinations and purposes, officials also released the names of individuals who accompanied the former premier on the trips.
No costs included
Costs, however, are not included in the response, of which the Compass has requested a formal internal review.
“In view of the recent investigation being carried on the Premier’s Credit Card I am unable to provide you with the costs or expenses relating to his travel, as the requested information is on the Credit Card in question,” according to the response from information manager Patricia Ulett.
Ms Ulett cites a section of the Freedom of Information Law that states “Records relating to law enforcement are exempt from disclosure if their disclosure would, or could reasonably be expected to […] affect (i) the conduct of an investigation or prosecution of a breach or possible breach of the law; or (ii) the trial of any person or the adjudication of a particular case”.
Police arrested Mr. Bush 11 December on suspicion of “Theft in connection with financial irregularities relating to the alleged misuse of a Government credit card” and “Breach of trust, Abuse of office and Conflict of interest, contrary to S13, S17 and S19 of the Anti-Corruption Law 2008 respectively, in connection with the alleged importation of explosive substances without valid permits on or before February 2012”.
No charges have been filed against Mr. Bush at this point.
Following two days of questioning, Mr. Bush was released on police bail until 13 February. On Tuesday, Cayman Islands lawmakers voted in favour of a “no confidence” motion against the ruling government, and on Wednesday Gov. Duncan Taylor revoked Mr. Bush’s appointment and named Cayman Brac and Little Cayman MLA Juliana O’Connor-Connolly the new premier.
As premier, Mr. Bush’s travels took him across the globe. Unique destinations include Miami, Tampa, Washington DC, New York, Charlotte, Phoenix, Jamaica, Cuba, London, Panama, Honduras, Bermuda, Bahamas, Aruba, Curacao, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, Puerto Rico, Vancouver, Paris, Germany, Netherlands, Jersey, Brussels, Venice, Copenhagen, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, India, Bali, Singapore, Hong Kong, Manila, Shanghai and Taiwan.
The list contains names of 34 people who accompanied Mr. Bush on one or more trips. According to the list, his most frequent companion was political assistant Richard Parchment, who went on 45 of the 74 trips. Next was (now former) chief officer Carson Ebanks (14 trips), MLA Cline Glidden (13), Wilburt Myles (10), financial secretary Kenneth Jefferson (8), attorney general Samuel Bulgin (8), chief of staff Leonard Dilbert (5) and cabinet secretary Orrett Connor (5), according to the list.
Almost all of the trips have definitive purposes associated with them. For example, Mr. Bush’s first trip as premier took him to Paris, London, Washington DC and New York, from 4-21 June.
Accompanying him were economic adviser Paul Byles, Department of Tourism director Shomari Scott, Mr. Ebanks, Mr. Glidden and Mr. Parchment.
The purposes of the trip were to sign a tax information exchange agreement with the UK, attend Caribbean Tourism Organisation meetings, attend Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development meetings, and begin the assessment of the tourism department’s budget cuts.
However, some of the purposes for other trips are less precise. For example, from 3-5 August, 2012, Mr. Bush travelled to Jamaica for “official business”. And again, “official business” is listed as the purpose of a 5 October trip by Mr. Bush, Mr. Parchment and personal assistant Jana Bush to Miami.
According to information received earlier in response to a separate records request by the Compass, the expenses for Mr. Bush’s and Mr. Myles’ 3-5 August trip to Jamaica were nearly $2,640, including a stay at the Wyndham Kingston Jamaica hotel.
Although the information provided to the Compass earlier identifies Mr. Myles as having gone with Mr. Bush on that trip to Jamaica, the list recently provided by the ministry does not identify anyone as accompanying Mr. Bush on that trip.
According to information posted online by Jamaica Information Service, Mr. Bush spoke at the 60th staging of Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show, in May Pen, Clarendon during that time, which coincided with Jamaica’s (50th) Golden Jubilee celebrations.
According to information from the Jamaica government, “The Cayman Islands Premier headed a visiting government and agricultural sector delegation from that country.”