The Cayman Islands government has been unable to locate intellectual property rights relating to GLF’s proposed development of a cruise berthing facility in Grand Cayman, despite paying more than $2 million for rights to the information.
During a weekly media briefing on Thursday, Minister of Tourism and Development Cline Glidden admitted that intellectual property from Italy-based construction company GLF, which the government was supposed to acquire following a $2,093,750 payment for terminating its contract to build the berthing facilities, was nowhere to be found.
“My team, led by chief officer of the ministry Stran Bodden, is still struggling to find exactly what we ended up actually getting in terms of intellectual property,” Minister Glidden said.
Former Premier McKeeva Bush said during a finance committee meeting in the Legislative Assembly last March that the government would be compensated for the settlement with the future sale of GLF’s intellectual property relating to the project.
According to the settlement agreement, which was signed in November 2011, the intellectual property in question included: “architectural and/or design documents, geotechnical studies, internal alternative studies, or phasing studies or engineering documents associated with construction means and methods submitted by GLF to the Government and/or PACI [Port Authority Cayman Islands].”
Other reports done by GLF and which, according to the settlement would be made available to the Port Authority or to the government, included a preliminary meteomarine report, a preliminary geotechnical report, additional soil investigation specifications; drawings; bill of quantities; Star Center Evaluation 2011; draft terms of reference for the conduct of an environmental impact assessment study or an overview for streamlining EIA activities, “regardless of whether such materials were completed or not”.
The Star Center Evaluation refers to a three-dimensional simulation of the GLF’s planned design of the berthing facility at the Simulation, Training, Assessment and Research Center of Fort Lauderdale in February 2011.
Despite the comprehensive list of documents and reports that the government was supposed to receive, the ministry in charge of development has not been able to find any of them.
The Port Authority also does not appear to have them. Paul Hurlston, director of the Port Authority, who signed the GLF settlement agreement on behalf of the board of directors of the Port Authority on 23 November, 2011, told the Caymanian Compass on Monday that he was not aware of the Port Authority receiving any intellectual property from GLF.
Mr. Bush told legislators at the March 2012 finance committee meeting that the government would not be out of pocket by paying the $2 million because “we will receive the same amount by the sale of the intellectual property … We are receiving that money back.”
He said at the time that government lawyers were dealing with the issue and the purchaser of the intellectual property would be made public once the agreement was completed.
However, Minister Glidden told reporters that as far as his ministry could determine, no other party interested in developing the port had approached the government to buy any intellectual property related to it.
“No one has offered us any payment for any of the intellectual property,” Mr. Glidden said, adding that he had been “hopeful that some of the intellectual property that had been developed during that period of time would have actually been accessible to us, whether we owned it or whether it was available to us in return for the payment we made, but so far, we haven’t been able to identify exactly what we ended up getting for that payment.”
GLF was ousted as the potential builder of the cruise port in favour of China Harbour Engineering Company in June 2011. The United Kingdom government in December ordered Mr. Bush and the Cayman Islands government to halt its deal with China Harbour because it did not adhere to proper procurement practices.
According to minutes of the Port Authority board at the time GLF was dropped as the developer of the port, the members initially unanimously agreed to that decision. However, at a Port Authority board meeting a week later, they unanimously agreed to reinstate GLF, because, as the then board chairman Stefan Baraud said in the meeting, the threatened legal action by GLF could be “damning to the country”.
Mr. Bush, who was present at the meeting, responded that he had lost confidence in some of the board members “in their ability to be impartial in dealing with China Harbour and GLF” and that he would be changing some of the members. Following the 25 June meeting, chairman Mr. Baraud and deputy chairman Woody Foster resigned their posts and Noel March’s appointment to the board was terminated.
Mr. Baraud said Monday that during his tenure as chairman of the board, DECCO, a Dart-owned development company that had been in negotiations to build the cruise berthing facility immediately prior to GLF, had been in discussions regarding releasing to GLF intellectual property relating to the environmental impact assessment of the site.
Cayman Islands-based Royal Construction partnered with GLF on the deal. Royal’s Managing Director Howard Finlason said as far as he was aware the Port Authority and the government should be in possession of at least some of the intellectual property from GLF. “The government was provided with the preliminary plans and the preliminary layout of the port. They had that long before the settlement was made. They provided them to the Port Authority back in February 2011,” he said.
Mr. Finlason, whose company was not party to the settlement agreement, said the question now was how or if the government could make use of those drawings and plans.
Former premier Mr. Bush and the current chairman of the Port Authority board John Henry Ebanks did not respond by press time to requests for comment.