New Tempura Audit Nixed

Initial plans for the Cayman Islands Auditor General’s Office to delve back into the ill-fated corruption investigation known as Operation Tempura have apparently been quashed, the Caymanian Compass has learned.  

Toward the beginning of his first term in office, Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick produced a long-term audit plan that included a second look at “value for money” received by the overseas territory as part of the Tempura investigation.  

A first audit done by the office in 2009 focused on contracts and spending associated with the probe between its inception in September 2007 and January 2009.  

However, Tempura investigators from the UK Metropolitan Police Service stayed in Grand Cayman for nearly another year until the remnants of the case were picked up by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Anti-Corruption Unit.  

Mr. Swarbrick said last week that he didn’t see any “value” for the public in going back into the matter, as it was likely to involve issues in other jurisdictions outside the scope of the Cayman 
Islands Auditor General’s Office.  

“The scope of our work [in the first report] was to report the costs of Operation Tempura and examine the processes operated by the Cayman Islands government in managing the project and the related contracts,” Mr. Swarbrick said.  

“In respect of the individual contracts, we were examining solely what procedures the Cayman Islands government undertook to ensure that they obtained the appropriate expertise 
and received value for money.  

“The role of other parties in providing contractors was therefore not within the scope of our audit.”  

However, several other matters occurred locally related to the ill-fated operation since the time of the first audit.  

Those include: The continuing use of a British-based law enforcement consultancy firm after January 2009; the cost of two criminal trials – one for a former deputy police commissioner and one for a former member of the Legislative Assembly – a report done at a cost of more than $300,000 to evaluate a complaint made by the operation’s former senior investigator; and other court cases including civil court 
matters that are still ongoing.  

Former Operation Tempura witness and retired UK journalist John Evans sums it up: “From a financial perspective, no one knows what went on after 1 February, 2009 or how much it has cost.  

That’s more than 
four years not accounted for.”  

The Caymanian Compass’s own cost estimates for Operation Tempura between September 2007 and late 2009 have totalled some $10 million. However, the initial report done by then-Auditor General 
Dan Duguay doesn’t go so far.  

Mr. Duguay’s audit revealed that $5.7 million was spent on Operation Tempura from September 2007 to January 2009.  

His office estimated a further $1.1 million was spent from February through June 2009, but did not specifically 
review costs for that period.  

For the period of September 2007 through January 2009, the costs break down as follows:  

$1.3 million spent on contracted officers, UK Met police officers and other contract personnel. 

$541,619 went for a consulting contract handled by a UK firm.  

$780,957 was spent on travel for police officers and their families, as well as others who assisted in the investigation.  

$443,235 was spent on housing for members of the police investigation team.  

$928,673 was paid out in legal expenses, including amounts needed to handle lawsuits filed over the police team’s actions.  

$197,320 was for office accommodation costs for the investigation team.  

$109,247 went to vehicle costs for officers.  

$1.275 million was paid to Grand Court Justice Alexander Henderson following his wrongful arrest in 2008 by representatives of the UK Met team.  

Mr. Duguay did not opine in his audit whether that expenditure represented good value for money to the Cayman Islands government. 

Dan-Duguay

Mr. Duguay

Alastair-Swarbrick

Mr. Swarbrick

Henderson

Mr. Henderson
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1 COMMENT

  1. At the risk of seeming cynical this looks like a case where official opinion deems it to be better for the truth to be kept buried. In sharp contrast to his regular reports on CIG, regulatory boards and even members of the LA (See – Auditor says government restructuring needed and other recent stories) Mr Swarbrick is, possibly bearing in mind what happened to his predecessor, showing clear reluctance to get involved here.

    My own research over the past few years has revealed that the original Tempura/Cealt audit simply did not get all the facts, particularly when it came to the contracting out of investigation work to former Met officers. Some of the documents released to me under FOI suggest that the findings of the 2009 audit could have been substantially different if this material had been available four years ago. They also show that the claim that lessons had been learned after the audit was finally made public was a bit misleading.

    Whether this was all a process of deliberate misinformation or simply failings in the audit process I do not know, but the fact remains that some of contents of the 2009 audit do not accurately reflect the way in which several crucial aspects of the funding were handled and someone needs to find why that was.

    Since that audit was completed a number of other things have also come to light that raise questions about the way Tempura/Cealt was funded during the period covered by the audit.

    Take as just one example what happened when the SIO was replaced in April/May 2009, just three months after that audit. As a contract employee, the SIO was paid CI747 a day plus expenses. Their replacement, a serving Met Detective Inspector, came in on a salary basis that equates to roughly CI250 a day a saving of CI500 a day. If you ran that back over the previous year it would have saved over CI120K so what happened here? You could ask the same question about the other three contract employees, who were all on rates of over CI400 a day.

    Then we have things like the regular visits by the Assistant Commissioner John Yates and his staff officer Dean Haydon. These were paid for from CIG funds but were they necessary?

    In fact was any of it necessary? Without the completion of the audit no one will ever know. The money will all have just conveniently disappeared.

    The Compass estimates of the cost of this fiasco at CI10million. I believe the true figure is at least double that, possibly a lot more. Over CI300K was spent on the Aina report, there was a hearing in London that sources here put around CI500K, we have the costs of Rudi Dixon’s retirement, the exodus of ex-pat RCIPS officers in 2009, more recently the cost of moves to recover documents or block their use in court, and it goes on and on and on. This has been, and still is, money and resources being poured down the drain with no tangible results.

    If the Auditor General thinks this is none of his business then maybe the time has come for him to step back from it to let the FCO set up and fund a proper public inquiry, along the lines of the Levers Tribunal, or bring in their own auditors to determine exactly what went wrong and why. Simply trying to turn a blind eye to it all suggests that the political interference referred to by Mr Swarbrick last week is not limited to local politicians and civil servants.

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