In February 2013, Mr. Jackson was fired from his position as CEO of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority, amid allegations of financial misconduct related to authority expenses. Importantly, those accusations were never proven to be true, no charges were filed and no arrests were made — and after a drawn-out inquiry, the police Financial Crime Unit has now formally notified Mr. Jackson that the investigation is closed, and no action will be taken against him.
It may be small consolation to Mr. Jackson, who lost his job and suffered damage to his reputation, but in our opinion, the appearance in hindsight is that Mr. Jackson may have been a victim of a coordinated character assassination.
Consider the following timeline:
In September 2008, following a 28-year career in Cayman aviation, Mr. Jackson was appointed head of the airports authority
On the authority’s financial statements for 2010/2011, Cayman’s auditor general noted that he was unable to determine if the authority was complying with standards on disclosure of “related party transactions” — i.e., business relationships between the authority and members of its senior management or board of directors. For example, then-board chairman Richard Arch, and also then-board member Frank Flowers, each owned a company that performed services at the airport.
In March 2012, Cayman’s Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick sent a letter warning the board that it had overstepped its powers, and warned of potential conflicts of interests among board members. Mr. Swarbrick wrote, “This has created a significant risk that decisions and transactions of the organization could be conflicted and/or corrupt.”
In December 2012, the board placed Mr. Jackson on “required leave” and dismissed the authority’s finance chief Shelley Ware, amid an “internal audit” that was being conducted by the board. In February 2013, the board terminated Mr. Jackson. Before Mr. Jackson’s dismissal, certain media outlets (not the Cayman Compass) reported details of allegations, purportedly from a leaked copy of the internal audit.
In January 2013, the auditor general was informed by the board that the internal audit was being carried out at no cost to the authority.
In May 2013, the authority’s board passed a resolution paying board member Jewel Hydes, who is an accountant, $46,000 in exchange for having conducted the internal audit. Auditor General Swarbrick commented on this transaction, “In our opinion, the board circumvented good business practice, abused their authority and failed to ensure that they achieved value for money.”
In June 2013, following the May general election, Mr. Arch agreed to resign from his position as chairman of the board. The Progressives government replaced the entire eight-member board, including directors Mr. Flowers and Ms. Hydes.
In June 2014, police informed Mr. Arch he was no longer under investigation by the anti-corruption unit, after a probe that had been initiated as a result of a complaint that had been filed by Mr. Jackson.
In August 2015, police informed Mr. Jackson their investigation against him had similarly ended.
We hope that the conclusion of police investigations, with no resulting charges or arrests, signifies that the dust has settled around the airports authority and that the skies are clear for the future of Owen Roberts International Airport, and its much-anticipated expansion project, and also for Mr. Jackson personally.