It took a jury of four women and three men a day to find the United Democratic Party leader not guilty on six counts of misconduct in a public office, contrary to Common Law and five counts of breach of trust by a Member of the Legislative Assembly, under the Anti-Corruption Law. The verdict was unanimous.
The charges stemmed from allegations that he withdrew just less than US$50,000 on his government-issued credit card and used at least some of that money to gamble in casino slot machines – conduct prosecutors said amounted to an abuse of his power.
The verdicts, which were delivered to a packed courtroom shortly after noon on Thursday, bring to an end a public saga that began in December 2012 when Mr. Bush, who was then the leader of the country, was arrested at his West Bay home. He was removed from office following a vote of no confidence from his colleagues in the Legislative Assembly and his fractured party was defeated in a general election the following year, though he was personally re-elected in West Bay, becoming Leader of the Opposition.
During the three-week trial, Mr. Bush’s attorney Geoffrey Cox, QC, levelled allegations of a political plot, led by former Governor Duncan Taylor, to leverage the criminal investigation to oust the sitting premier from office.
The prosecution produced evidence that Mr. Bush had made cash withdrawals in casinos in the U.S. and the Bahamas, cross-referencing this with data from casinos about his substantial losses on slot machines in an effort to prove he had been using the government’s credit line to gamble.
Several civil service witnesses testified that personal usage of the government cards had been permitted during the period in question as long as the funds were repaid.
See Friday’s Cayman Compass for full story.