Thursday’s acquittal of McKeeva Bush on 11 criminal charges marked the end of a saga that began two-and-a-half years ago when former governor Duncan Taylor first revealed that the then-premier was under criminal investigation. The following is a timeline of the events that led up to the trial.
April 20, 2012: Governor Duncan Taylor reveals at a press conference with then-overseas territories minister Henry Bellingham that Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush is “involved” in two criminal investigations, leaving out any further explanations.
April 21, 2012: The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service announces that Premier Bush is actually involved in three investigations. The police statement reads: “The RCIPS can confirm that there are a number of investigations currently ongoing involving the premier of the Cayman Islands, the Hon. McKeeva Bush. One involves allegations of financial irregularities in relation to a land deal. In addition, a further allegation of financial irregularities has been made which is entirely separate from the first investigation. Finally, allegations have been made in relation to the involvement of the premier in the periphery of a recent incident where a quantity of explosives were imported to the Cayman Islands without the necessary permit.”
The unspecified investigation into “financial irregularities” was later revealed as the allegations related to government credit card use – the only case in which Mr. Bush is eventually charged. The land transaction investigation ended with no arrests or charges against anyone. Mr. Bush and local businessman Suresh Prasad were later arrested in connection with the explosives importation, but neither is ever charged personally. In the end, Mr. Prasad’s company was charged and fined over the incident.
April 22, 2012: Mr. Bush says he did nothing illegal and insists he will not resign. He says he received no formal notice of any police investigation into his affairs and accuses the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office of timing the police announcement of the investigations as a political ploy to embarrass him during a visit by a U.K. minister to Cayman.
May 3, 2012: Governor Taylor says claims that his office is working against the Cayman Islands are “completely without foundation.” Mr. Bush and other members of the UDP question the motives of Governor Taylor and the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the Caymanian Compass and other local news media.
Dec. 11, 2012: Mr. Bush is arrested at his West Bay home on suspicion of theft in connection with financial irregularities relating to the alleged misuse of a government credit card, and breach of trust, abuse of office and conflict of interest, contrary to Section 13, Section 17 and Section 19 of the Anti-Corruption Law 2008, in connection with the alleged importation of explosive substances without valid permits on or before February 2012.
Dec. 12, 2012: Premier Bush is released on police bail following interviews on Dec. 11 and Dec. 12 with Royal Cayman Islands Police Financial Crime Unit officers. He is placed on police bail until early February 2013.
Dec. 13, 2012: Mr. Bush reiterates he will not resign as premier. He makes reference to his ongoing troubles during a commencement address at a Jamaican university. During the address, he describes Cayman Islands Governor Taylor as his “enemy” and implies his arrest was orchestrated by the Britain-appointed governor and other political foes.
Dec. 14, 2012: Governor Taylor rebuts claims that the criminal investigation against Premier Bush is politically motivated or that he is even involved in it.
Dec. 15-16, 2012: Members of the UDP meet to determine the political fate of the party and its longtime leader, Mr. Bush.
Dec. 18, 2012: Cayman Islands lawmakers vote 11-3 in favor of a “no confidence” motion against the ruling UDP government. Premier Bush abstains. At the start of the meeting, Mr. Bush and three members of his government – Minister Mike Adam, West Bay MLA Capt. Eugene Ebanks and George Town MLA Ellio Solomon – move to the opposition benches.
Dec. 19, 2012: Rejecting calls from Premier Bush and some opposition party members to dissolve the Legislative Assembly, Governor Taylor agrees to a new “minority” government with Cayman Brac and Little Cayman MLA Juliana O’Connor-Connolly as the new premier.
Dec. 27, 2012: Governor Taylor denies claims by Mr. Bush that the governor acted unconstitutionally in appointing a local government with only five members. Typically, to form a government in a 15-member legislature, Cayman Islands ruling administrations have had to comprise at least eight elected members.
Mid-February 2013: Mr. Bush announces before a crowd of about 300 that he will stand for election in West Bay.
March 20, 2013: Mr. Bush is charged with breach of trust, misconduct in public office and theft. He is charged on 11 counts – two of misconduct in a public office, four of breach of trust by a member of the Legislative Assembly, contrary to Section 13 of the Anti-Corruption Law 2008, and five of theft, contrary to section 241 of the Penal Code.
March 21, 2013: The UDP vows to stand behind its leader in the wake of criminal charges.
May 22-23, 2013: The general election is held on May 22. The People’s Progressive Movement wins nine of the 18 available MLA seats. Former Premier O’Connor-Connolly defects to the Progressives, giving them a 10-seat majority in the House. The UDP wins three seats and becomes the opposition party.
Mid-June 2013: The Compass reports that five theft charges filed against Mr. Bush were dropped June 5, according to Mr. Bush’s attorney, Michael Alberga. Other charges alleging “misconduct in a public office contrary to common law” are brought. Mr. Bush still faces six misconduct charges in Grand Court as well as five charges of breach of trust under the Anti-Corruption Law.
Sept. 12, 2013: Mr. Bush’s trial date is set for September 2014.
Nov. 2013: Mr. Bush accuses the U.K. of “unlawfully” intercepting his phone calls and text messages during the criminal investigation.
Sept. 8, 2014: After several scheduled court dates fall through, jury selection in the trial begins.
Sept. 15, 2014: The trial commences.
Oct. 9, 2014: The jury unanimously finds Mr. Bush not guilty on all counts.