Pines board: ‘Misappropriated’ cash returned

The board of directors for the Pines Retirement Home has reported that the organization had received “full reimbursement” for the money it identified to have been owed by its former manager, Sue Nicholson.  

According to a statement issued by board chairman Julian Reddyhough, the payment was made following a forensic investigation by the charity with assistance from professional accounting and legal firms.  

“This includes a payment in respect of interest,” Mr. Reddyhough said. “This payment has been made by [former manager Sue] Nicholson’s husband without any admission of wrongdoing.”  

Responding to further questions from the Caymanian Compass, Mr. Reddyhough said that “several hundred thousand dollars over an eight-year period” had been taken from the charity.  

“We said we would seek recovery of the misappropriated funds. We have done just that,” the chairman stated in response to Compass questions. “Mr. Nicholson, in making payment, has expressly not made any admission of liability on his part or on the part of his wife.”  

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Financial Crime Unit for some months has been investigating allegations of funds being taken from the charity. Mr. Reddyhough said the board cooperated with the investigation.  

“[The police] were supplied by us with a formal complaint with supporting evidence, and former statements have been taken from a number of our staff,” Mr. Reddyhough said.  

The Pines chairman said he was unaware that anyone had previously reported or attempted to report financial irregularities at the charity.  

According to an earlier statement sent to the Compass in June by the board’s vice chairman: “In fact, it was only after Mrs. Nicholson had left Grand Cayman to attend her daughter’s wedding in the U.K. that the possibility of her having misappropriated funds was reported to me. Staff were immediately interviewed and internal investigations begun. With considerable assistance from Mr. Theo Bullmore, a retired senior partner of one of the island’s leading accountancy firms, relevant information was quickly assembled and potential problem areas identified.”  

Although the board has publicly named Mrs. Nicholson in successive statements, no criminal case had been brought before the court at press time.  

In the meantime, Mr. Reddyhough said, steps have been taken to prevent the recurrence of such an event.  

“We have instituted anti-fraud training for our administrative staff, and KPMG has undertaken to provide periodic spot audits,” he said. “We have also updated our operational procedures in line with recommendations received from KPMG.  

“It is regrettable that a charity is forced to take these steps and, of course, no steps can provide 100 percent security against a person who is sufficiently motivated or cunning.”