Charles Clifford takes top customs role

A three-year quest to find a new Collector of Customs ended this week with the appointment of attorney and former tourism minister Charles Clifford. 

Mr. Clifford, also a former chief inspector with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, will officially take over as head of customs on August 17. As collector he will have ultimate responsibility for border protection and revenue collection. 

The post had been advertised on five previous occasions without success, following the retirement of Carlon Powery in May 2012. 

Mr. Clifford, who will close his law firm to take on the job, believes his background with the police and with government will stand him in good stead for the role. 

“I put a lot of thought into it and decided this was the best thing for me at this time,” he said of his decision to leave the legal profession. 

Maximizing revenues at customs, which is one of the biggest sources of government funds, and stepping up enforcement at points of entry into the islands will be key targets for the new collector. 

“The issue of border protection and stemming the flow of illegal drugs and weapons coming into the country is an important one,” he said. 

He hopes to forge close links with police and Immigration to work together on joint operations to prevent the smuggling of contraband into Cayman. 

Mr. Clifford also targeted staff development and succession planning as a key goal during his time as head of customs. 

Deputy governor Franz Manderson and Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson released a joint statement Thursday confirming the appointment. 

“We welcome Mr. Clifford to the post of Collector of Customs and we are confident that, with his vast experience and knowledge as a Permanent Secretary and Minister, he will provide the necessary leadership and support to tackle the challenges facing the Customs Department today,” the statement read. 

Mr. Clifford was previously permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, later becoming minister after being elected to government as part of the People’s Progressive Movement administration between 2005 and 2009. 

Mr. Clifford