Allegations of corrupt activity in the Cayman Islands dropped slightly during the last government budget year, but the territory’s Anti-Corruption Commission chairman said that’s not a sign of investigative activities going slack.
In fact, Anti-Corruption Commissioner David Baines noted in the organization’s annual report that police officers attached to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Anti-Corruption Unit actually conducted more interviews on cases during the 2013/14 year than they did in the previous year.
“Much of the work… has been on long-term, protracted investigations which have been complex and time consuming,” Mr. Baines said. “While the statistics are lower than in the previous reporting period, the activities of both the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Anti-Corruption Unit were no less significant.”
The Anti-Corruption Commission is a five-person body appointed by the Cayman Islands governor that has Mr. Baines, the RCIPS commissioner, as its chairman and membership including Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick, Complaints Commissioner Nicola Williams, Sir Peter Allen and Leonard Ebanks.
The commission is supported by an administrative staff within the commissions secretariat and uses a small group of RCIPS officers who form the Anti-Corruption Unit in the investigation of complaints.
For the 2013/14 budget year, 24 corruption-related complaints were received, compared to 31 the previous year. Mr. Baines said it was likely that the May 2013 general elections – which took place during the government’s 2012/13 budget year – may have been responsible for eliciting a few more complaints from the public.
Another issue arising was that the confidential “tip line” established for corruption-related complaints – 928-1747 – went unused during the last budget year.
“It is apparent that with only one call recorded to the confidential reporting line this year, and that one call being dialed in error, the line is not trusted by the populace,” the commission’s report indicated. “The preferred means of reporting is by far that of a trusted conduit.”
As of June 30, 2014, the Anti-Corruption Commission had 23 cases being actively investigated, including allegations going back as far as 2011. Another 30 cases investigated by the commission had been listed as concluded. “Although in some cases this was merely a change in status from pending to concluded on the basis that sufficient time had elapsed to indicate that no further information was likely to be gathered,” the commission’s annual report noted.
During the 2013/14 year, the commission recorded two convictions in corruption-related cases, but noted that no other individuals were presently awaiting Grand Court trials or had been charged in relation to ongoing investigations.
One matter was awaiting a ruling on charges by the office of the director of public prosecutions, the report noted. “A number of requests for rulings have been submitted to the office of the director of public prosecutions, however decisions have been made to not prosecute for a variety of reasons such as a lack of evidence which the [director’s office] felt would not result in a conviction or complex legal interpretive issues with the Anti-Corruption Law.
“These complex legal interpretive issues continue to be of concern to the [commission],” the report stated.
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, according to previous statements from the commission.
The Cayman Compass reported earlier in the year that the 23 anti-corruption investigations listed as ongoing were being conducted by just two investigators in the Anti-Corruption Unit and that it was unlikely further staff would be hired to support the unit during the current budget year.