Here in the Cayman Islands, local and U.K. officials have striven to keep quiet the ill-fated RCIPS corruption probe known as Operation Tempura. Cayman, at the U.K.’s insistence, has spent millions of dollars on the continuing fallout from the investigation, which ended more than four years ago. The scorecard to date: No convictions and the unlawful arrest of a sitting Cayman judge.
On island, government officials – including several who were involved in Tempura and continue to remain in high-level positions – tend to say as little as possible about the U.K.-orchestrated fiasco, which started out as an investigation into the relationship between police and Cayman Net News publisher Desmond Seales. It then blossomed into a full-blown inquiry into Cayman’s criminal justice system and, after it went bad, has been under government-imposed lock-and-key.
The cover-up of Tempura may be worse than Tempura itself, which in its own right was nastier than any local corruption it revealed. Looking at the principals (not the underlings) tangled up in Tempura, there is nary a Caymanian in sight. The main thing Caymanian about Tempura is the money used to finance the operation and, in its aftermath, keep it quiet.
The Tempura fiasco this week was on display in Miami, where a panel discussed the scandal as part of the annual OffshoreAlert conference. The panel, moderated by Caymanian Compass journalist Brent Fuller, featured names that should be familiar to many people back in Cayman: former Tempura senior investigator Martin Bridger, former Auditor General Dan Duguay and former Cayman Net News journalist (and Tempura participant and witness) John Evans.
Beyond the confines of Cayman’s borders, the panelists agreed that the people of Cayman deserve to know how much taxpayer money has been and will be spent on Tempura, and also to know exactly what happened during and after Tempura, and why.
It’s important to keep in mind that, although local and U.K. officials have made Mr. Bridger out to be “the bad guy” – the reality is Mr. Bridger worked hand in hand in the investigation with then-Governor Stuart Jack and Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates, then of Scotland Yard. After Tempura soured, Bridger, along with legal adviser Martin Polaine (who was recently vindicated by the U.K. Bar Standards Board), were unceremoniously evicted from the inner circle directing the investigation.
(Governor Jack, a key player in Operation Tempura, has never been charged with any wrongdoing and, in a judicial ruling by Justice Alan Moses, was removed as a defendant in the civil case filed by ousted Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan. That was the suit the government settled in March with Mr. Kernohan for an undisclosed sum.)
One of the several outstanding items in the Tempura inventory exists in the form of a pair of criminal complaints, filed by Mr. Bridger, that currently reside with Police Commissioner David Baines. The complaints make serious allegations against Governor Jack, U.K. FCO adviser Larry Covington and Cayman Islands Attorney General Samuel Bulgin.
Commissioner Baines tells the Compass that the matters contained in the complaints are legally complex, but his office is actively engaged in addressing them.
Working around our own set of legal constraints, the Compass is committed to telling the untold story of Tempura. Frankly, we don’t need to do much, if any, more reporting on this issue. We already know what took place. It is only legal barriers (such as sub judice dicta) that are preventing us from printing at this time.
For now, let us just say that we concur with a comment Mr. Bridger made at the OffshoreAlert conference: “Someone … is not telling the truth.”