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.