“I can confirm that the Anti-Corruption Commission has received a report of alleged corruption in relation to the Liquor Licensing Board,” said Deborah Bodden, who is with the secretariat. “That complaint is now the subject of an initial enquiry and investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission.”
The secretariat, which operates the constitutionally established commissions under the auspices of the governor, said the probe is at an early stage. Ms Bodden declined to provide further details.
Although the Anti-Corruption Commission is an independent body, it has no investigative resources and depends on Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officers assigned to the police anti-corruption unit to undertake investigations on behalf of the commission.
Correspondence obtained by the Caymanian Compass has indicated that RCIPS officers had taken an interest in certain issues regarding the use of liquor licenses more than a year ago, when one local licensee – Brian Barnes – said other individuals were using his mobile liquor license without his knowledge.
According to an email chain between Mr. Barnes and RCIPS Chief Inspector Frank Owens on May 22, 2012, Mr. Owens, who at the time had responsibility for police matters regarding the Liquor Licensing Board of Grand Cayman, wanted to know who had used Mr. Barnes’s license for an event on May 18, 2012.
“Mr. Barnes, can you confirm that you catered for an event at Big J’s Lawn in Seymour Drive on Friday, 18th May, 2012, utilizing your mobile liquor license?” Chief Inspector Owens asked.
Mr. Barnes’s reply was, “No, I did not cater on Friday and I did not give anyone my permission to use my name or license. I always contact Marva [Scott – the liquor board secretary] if I am going anything outside my private catering.”
Mr. Owens then informed Mr. Barnes that someone had been using his name on the liquor license to cater the event.
“[Expletive], that’s not good!” Mr. Barnes replied.
Liquor licenses can be borrowed for other individuals to use at certain events. However, that must be done with the permission of the licensee and the board. According to Mr. Barnes, who the Compass contacted on Wednesday, he has since learned that his mobile liquor license had apparently been used in several instances without his express permission.
When contacted Thursday about the anti-corruption investigation, Mitchell Welds, chairman of the Liquor Licensing Board of Grand Cayman, said he knew nothing regarding the subject of such an investigation.
“This is news to me,” Mr. Welds said.