Report: No additional staff for anti-corruption enforcement

Despite having fielded 106 complaints concerning alleged corrupt activity since its inception in January 2010, the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Unit will not receive more money in government’s new fiscal year budget that went into effect Tuesday.

The budget for the unit would stay the same as in the previous budget year and only two investigators would continue to look into reported cases, according to reports to the commission, the five-person board that supervises the unit’s work, said Anti-Corruption Commission manager Deborah Bodden.

Almost a quarter of the cases are still considered “active investigations.”

“This remains a concern to the [commission] and the manager has agreed to discuss the matter further with senior officials,” state the most recent meeting minutes of the commission. “The chairman [Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner David Baines] will again raise this issue with Her Excellency [Governor Helen Kilpatrick].” The meeting minutes note that there are 23 ongoing investigations being conducted by the two investigators of the Anti-Corruption Unit. Two of those cases have been forwarded to the director of public prosecutions for a decision on charges.

Five cases were previously referred to the director of public prosecutions, who declined to press charges based on the offenses alleged. In one case, charges were accepted, but then altered.

A total of 77 complaints reviewed by the unit were closed before being presented to the director of public prosecutions for various reasons, including insufficient evidence gathered, the cases being transferred to another investigative unit within the RCIPS or the allegations arising prior to the Anti-Corruption Law coming into effect in 2010.

In the 77 closed cases, 23 of the complaints involved allegations against the RCIPS, 22 were made against government officials, 13 were against members of the Legislative Assembly, five involved appointed board members, five others were against immigration officers, three claims were made against customs officials, two involved election-related offenses and one complaint each was made against the prisons service and the judiciary. In two other cases, a citizen was accused of offering a bribe to a police officer and the second involved “rendering international assistance.” The details of the last offense were not specified.

More detailed information about the various cases cannot be disclosed by the commission for legal reasons, including that the allegations made against individuals could be considered defamatory if they turn out to be false.

Last year, Ms. Bodden told the Cayman Compass she hoped a budget of about $280,000 designated for the Anti-Corruption Commission would lead to more investigators being hired, but she indicated that the unit is still forced to use additional resources from the RCIPS to complete its work.

“The allocated funds do not meet the needs of the Anti-Corruption Commission in that they prohibit my ability to hire more staff to work as investigators in the Anti-Corruption Unit,” Ms. Bodden said. “It would be useful for the unit to consist of a minimum of six investigators.

“The majority of the cases the unit [is] working on/have worked on are complex and as a result, the lack of staff often hinders the unit’s ability to manage cases in a timely manner and to thoroughly exhaust all avenues in each investigation.”

Since 2010, two people have been convicted of crimes under various sections of the Anti-Corruption Law. In one case, Patricia Monique Webster, a civilian employee with the RCIPS, was charged with misusing police data systems to solicit information from the Immigration Department. The second conviction involved Elvis Ebanks, a police officer charged in connection with bribe-taking.

Cases listed as being handled by the Anti-Corruption Unit do not include accusations against former Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush or the guilty plea of former Electricity Regulatory Authority Managing Director Joey Ebanks, who were both charged with dishonesty related offenses.

According Ms. Bodden, those matters are not recorded in the Anti-Corruption Commission’s annual reports because they were investigated by a different branch of the RCIPS – the Financial Crime Unit, not the Anti-Corruption Unit.

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