Kelly Holding: Don’t write that check

Jailed British businessman Andrew Buckner allegedly bilked the Cayman Islands government out of $50,000 in exchange for a celebrity sports jubilee that turned out to be fiction. Now the government is expecting its money back — not from Buckner, but from a local company, Kelly Holding Ltd., which had been brought on to promote the events.

Rhonda Kelly, CEO of Kelly Holding, is well-known and highly regarded in the Cayman Islands. Her firm is especially active in promoting local sports activities and events. As a business entity, Kelly Holding is tiny and blameless in this unfortunate affair. Kelly Holding certainly should not be “stuck with the bill.”

Here’s what happened: Buckner, along with his then-partner Cory McGee, approached two ministries (sports and tourism) in Grand Cayman to put up $25,000 each to help promote sports events and bring in celebrities in support of a local anti-bullying campaign.

Ms. Kelly did not introduce the promoters to the Cabinet ministers. They had already met and agreed to put up the $50,000. Kelly Holding was subsequently engaged to promote the events.

Once involved, Kelly Holding received the government proceeds and, acting only as a conduit, passed the funds on to Mr. McGee and Buckner.

Once the deal went bad, Rhonda Kelly, perhaps precipitously, offered to repay the funds to the government — an act of generosity that, frankly, she and her partner can hardly afford. No doubt she did this to maintain the good reputation of her company.

But she shouldn’t have, and the government should not accept her check, even if she and her partner can find the funds to write it.

As with any business transaction, the responsibility for performing due diligence falls to the party who is doing the deal — not to a promotions company that comes on board after the deal is done. This is especially true in this scenario, given the vast differences between the levels of resources that government has, compared Kelly Holding.

In other words, ministry officials should have known better, and they can far better afford to take the financial hit for what was ultimately their failure to perform adequate due diligence.


  1. Not too often you will hear me say to the Government, I’ve got ye back. But I got their back on this one seventy five percent. Then one may wonder well what happen to the other twenty five percent.
    They need to stop making deals over steak and beer, and trusting every fly-by-night donkey that appears with a saddle.
    Someone received the money that’s for sure, and that someone needs to pay it back. Some may think that Kelly Holdings should not, but obviously the deal was made with them in a physical trusting way as a Cayman well known registered Company.
    The facts are they become involved in a deal so blind that they never smelled a rat. Well, moneys were paid and the deal went sour. Another case of us being taken for a sucker. Will we ever learn?

  2. I completely agree with your editorial. There is no way that Government should expect Kelly Holding to cover this loss. This agreement was between Government and the people at the other end of the deal.

  3. If the govt wrote the check to Kelly why did she then give the money to the others? if the deal was between McGee/Buckner and govt, then why didn’t they get the check directly… why was it paid to Kelly Holdings?
    Something is not right here….

  4. This is truly disturbing. I have known Rhonda Kelly for over 20 years and have found her to be a professional business person in every sense of the word. Kelly Holding have endeavored to bring our country the utmost in sporting and social events that not only promote Cayman but bring people together.

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