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.