ERA Chief fires back after suspension

Suspended Electricity Regulatory Authority Managing Director Joey Ebanks has fired back at Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor, several legislators, newspaper editors and reporters and several other individuals, saying he believes he knows why the decision to suspend him from his appointed post was made. 

A government press release detailing Mr. Ebanks suspension was sent to the local media Monday. 

“… The decision was based on the preliminary finding by the auditor general from his investigation into inappropriate financial transactions which was reported to the board of directors of the ERA on Thursday, 28 February. The board unanimously supported the 
recommendations of the 
auditor general following his 
preliminary report. The auditor general’s findings are being provided to the Financial Crimes Unit of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service to investigate,” read a statement from the ERA regarding Mr. Ebanks’ suspension. 

According to Mr. Ebanks, the inappropriate financial transactions that caused the suspension were in relation to a trip to Jamaica that he made to support then-Premier McKeeva Bush’s acceptance of an honorary degree. 

He spoke about the situation to the Caymanian Compass via Facebook messaging.  

“To the best of my knowledge I have been suspended pending an investigation into alleged misconduct of office duties. Unofficially, I have been told it’s in relation to travelling to Jamaica to speak on behalf of the then-premier at his award ceremony. I charged the ticket to the ERA.  

“Having revealed a significant number of other issues that includes ERA board members and members of Cabinet, I expect every attempt to ‘get Joey’ will now be made. Just as the [governor] saw fit to make the investigation of the now-premier on paving in the Brac ‘go away’ and embrace her as the new premier following the removal of McKeeva. Just as he choose to run a three-year negative PR campaign against McKeeva then arrest and still not charge. 

“I have absolutely no expectation of justice,” wrote Mr. Ebanks. The Auditor General’s Office has said the current matter of alleged inappropriate financial transactions is being investigated by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. 

This is not the first time Mr. Ebanks has had questions arise regarding his financial dealings in an official capacity. In 2009, an audit by then-Auditor General Dan Duguay showed that Mr. Ebanks received 16 separate salary advances/loans for various amounts while serving as the managing director at Boatswain’s Beach, which is now the Cayman Turtle Farm. The amount approved for those loans was $65,871.61. None of those loans were approved by the Turtle Farm’s board of directors and Mr. Duguay said proper documentation was found for only one of the 16 loans.  

Two high-ranking members of Boatswain’s Beach/Cayman Turtle Farm management disputed several claims made by Mr. Ebanks at the time regarding salary advances he received while working at the farm between 2007 and early 2009. 

Those employees also rebutted claims made earlier by Mr. Ebanks that a $6,500 tab he ran up at Schooner’s Bar on the Turtle Farm property over the course of several months was for promotional purposes. Most of that money was spent on alcohol and cigarettes, auditors said.  

Mr. Ebanks, however, said all of these measures occurred against a backdrop of an organisation that was losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a month.  

The Cayman Islands Financial Reporting Authority was made aware of a $51,747 cash payment ex-Boatswain’s Beach/Turtle Farm Managing Director Joey Ebanks made to settle salary advances/loans from his former employer. 

During a Public Accounts Committee meeting investigating that matter, Mr. Ebanks declined to comment about the source of the cash he used to repay the salary advances. 

Mr. Duguay told the committee that he had no evidence any laws had been broken by the cash payoff. 

Mr. Duguay noted that neither Boatswain’s Beach officials nor bank managers who received the deposit that came from Mr. Ebanks had stated specifically where the cash for the debt repayment had come from. 

A receipt for the deposit said the payment was being made for “business operations” at the tourism facility. 

In past interviews with the Caymanian Compass, Mr. Ebanks said he sold his private boat to pay off the money owed in salary advances/loans. 

Louis Boucher has been appointed as acting managing director of the ERA. He was previously the acting managing director immediately prior to Mr. Ebanks’ appointment to the regulatory body last year by then-Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush. Mr. Ebanks took over as head of the ERA in May 2012. 

10 COMMENTS

  1. Oh Joey. You are wrong, it is as simple as that. I am sure you have heard the term you made your bed now lie in it
    It would be better that you stop stirring that bucket before it really starts to stink. I amongst many were surprised that you were even appointed to the position of superintendent of the ERA but hardly shocked that once again you are accused of inappropriate use of funds. This is a small Island Mr. Ebanks and what you have for breakfast in the morning is known far and wide across the Island before you get up from the table. Stop blaming everyone else except who really is to blame………..yourself.

  2. While Mr. Ebanks surely bears some responsibility for his current situation, one has to realize the wider systemic issue at work here. For years, the policy has been for those in higher authority to treat the government coffers as their own personal expense accounts. Many a blind eye was turned due to the adage,everybody else is doing it, so why shouldn’t I? This started at the very highest levels of Government and trickled down..and as we all know, Monkey see, Monkey do..

  3. Rorschach – If Ebanks has abused his office, misused his govt. credit card etc. there is no one to blame but himself. This is an issue of personal integrity. Claiming that everyone is doing it so why shouldn’t I is an appalling attitude and it is hardly a credible excuse when the same individual had similar problems at his last govt. job.

    If you do know of others then you should report them. We need to clean house.

  4. In the real world NO ONE gets salary advances but 16 ! Really ? And to the tune of 65,871.61 plus 6500 Bar Tab for alcohol cigarettes claims it’s for promotional purposes ! That is beyond believe!
    It seems there is a pattern of doing business here has red flags every where !

  5. To tell you the truth my head is getting dizzy and my eyes are spinning around from reading so much things that no one can understand fully.
    Mr Ebanks my suggestion is to be open with everything. These days it does not make sense to with hold truth from the public. Further more you should know that if you even shake hands with McKeeva Bush they will want to arrest you. Some people really got it out for the man. Every day it is becomming worse, and what makes my head really spin is to know that all fingers are pointed straight at government house on West Bay road. What is going on anyway,

  6. Hunter – these persons are not under investigation for shaking hands with McKeeva Bush. You should ask yourself why so many people who are under investigation for suspected corruption are directly connected to Bush. Birds of a feather.

    I don’t think you will like the result if Ebanks does follow your suggest and spills the beans.

    If it is the Governor who is cleaning house as you imply, then I applaud him.

  7. There is an irony here Mr Ebanks was the head of the body to keep an oversight on CUC and ensure that the people of Cayman got a fair deal with current and future power supply. So when the head of this body is sacked for using corporate funds in a previous Government Job. One really asks who appointed him in the first place and are we really that surprised that he did it again.

    This man if found guilty should be convicted of a crime and sent to prison along with other petty thieves to serve his sentence instead of getting off Scot free, being appointed to another government body and thus sending the wrong message to others in this country.

  8. The C-130 is still circling, only this time it has stopped blinking it’s warning to bring down the rain, rain is falling, and when it rains it pours in these islands. Rain well needed for new growth.

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