Releases receipts for watch, shopping trip
East End MLA Arden McLean revealed Tuesday that he had made full reimbursement for four personal charges on his government-issued credit card during his tenure in Cabinet, including repayment of a US$3,500 ladies watch that was bought in Cayman as a gift.
All repayments were made within a month of the purchases, records show.
The Cayman Compass had earlier reported that Mr. McLean’s government-issued credit card was charged for the diamond-studded watch on Dec. 24, 2007, and that the card was also charged for a late October 2008 shopping trip in Florida.
“I have documentary proof that I have repaid in each and every instance any and all charges for personal purchases that I placed on my government-issued credit card,” Mr. McLean said in a press statement issued Tuesday. “I would also like to highlight that in all such instances, because the credit facility was repaid before the same became due, the government did not incur one penny of interest for any purchases that I made with my government-issued credit card.”
Details of the specific repayments were made public Tuesday by Mr. McLean on a local talk radio show prior to his delivering the statement to the Compass offices.
With regard to the Christmas Eve watch purchase, Mr. McLean stated that the charge of US$3,500 was inadvertently made on his government gold Visa card “simply because I mistook it for my personal gold Mastercard when I made the purchase on Christmas Eve.”
Mr. McLean said he later discovered the purchase on Jan. 15, 2008, when his former ministry received the credit card statement via fax.
“I immediately wrote a personal check in the amount of CI$2,931.25 as full reimbursement of the US$3,500 charge,” Mr. McLean said. “I am publishing a copy of that credit card statement and a copy of the repayment check with this press release.” One U.S. dollar is worth 80 cents in Cayman Islands currency.
The East End MLA also explained the Florida shopping trip expenses. To the best of his recollection, he said, he used the government credit card for personal use “because my personal credit card had reached its limit or I had left it behind.
“I did this consciously knowing that I would be paying it on my return to Cayman,” he said.
The charges, made between Oct. 24 and 26, included purchases at JC Penney, Wal-Mart, World Foot Locker, Champs Sports, Burlington Coat Factory, Polo and at the Texas de Brazil restaurant at the Dolphin Mall, were reimbursed on Oct. 29, 2008, via a CI$1,593.02 check and cash in the amount of US$1,000 for a total repayment of US$2,896.45. Again, Mr. McLean obtained receipts for the payments.
“I then asked [his personal assistant] to draft a memorandum for me to sign, addressed to my chief officer explaining the purchase and to attach the receipt from RBC as proof of payment that I had made to the Royal Bank of Canada on Oct. 29, 2008, as reimbursement for those purchases,” Mr. McLean said. “My PA drafted the memo and I signed the same and enclosed the receipt and sent it to my chief officer in order to document the repayment.”
Two other credit card charges made for personal reasons were also discussed by Mr. McLean in the statement issued Tuesday.
“It is in the interest of full disclosure upon examining my files I have, in fact, discovered two other instances where I used my government credit card for what appears to be personal purchases and in both instances I repaid the amount charged before the same became due,” he said.
The other charges related to a one-night stay at a Courtyard Marriott in Miami and a payment for a meal at a Houston, Texas, seafood restaurant.
While Mr. McLean did provide a statement to the Compass on Tuesday, Aug. 19, regarding the purchase of the watch at Kirk Freeport in Bayshore Mall, he did not address direct questions regarding whether it was he who made the purchase and whether he had reimbursed the government. Follow up calls, emails and texts seeking clarification from the East End MLA were not returned during the course of the next week. Mr. McLean said he considered the follow-up reporting as being “hounded and harassed” and referred to one text message sent from a reporter as “rude.”
“Whilst I do appreciate that the press should generally be free to report what facts they can find on any matter, in my view, that does not permit them to harass me or any member of the public, or to engage in disrespectful or defamatory conduct towards me, simply because they do not accept the answers that I gave,” Mr. McLean said.
The East End MLA also explained his previous reluctance to make full disclosure on the matter of the credit card purchases.
“I have … already indicated that I was concerned about the impact that all of this may have on the pending prosecution of the former premier,” Mr. McLean said. “I simply didn’t want to be dragged into any commentary that might be seen to hurt, assist or otherwise impact that matter.
“I would never sacrifice my reputation, the very reputation I have worked so hard to protect, just for the sake of making a few purchases on the account of the government. Nor would I ever seek to pass on my personal expenses to the taxpayers of this country, the same people whose interests I have always fought so hard to protect. My conscience would simply never allow me to do that.”