Anti-Corruption Commission probing 12 cases

Commission, down to one permanent member, has not met since February

The Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Commission is actively investigating 12 cases of corruption, and incoming complaints have dropped by more than half since 2012-2013, according to the annual report released this week. 

The lone remaining permanent member of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Police Commissioner David Baines, said “cases of corruption continued to make their way into the spotlights, both on a local and international level,” a reference to the ongoing FIFA corruption case in the United States, where former Cayman Islands Football Association president Jeffrey Webb faces charges of racketeering and bribery. 

“These cases reiterate the [Anti-Corruption Commission’s] stance that corruption continues to exist at various levels in the Cayman Islands.” 

In recent months, the Anti-Corruption Commission confirmed that it was looking into the local football association and reviewing recent CIFA audits. 

Separately, Cayman businessman Canover Watson faces corruption charges in a scandal related to awarding contracts for public hospitals in the Cayman Islands while he chaired the board of the Health Services Authority. Watson’s trial could start as soon as Monday. 

In his letter introducing the report, Mr. Baines writes, “The Cayman Islands, it seems, will always be portrayed as a corrupt jurisdiction which allows individuals to stash money received from their engagement in corrupt acts; in reality this does not need to be the case.” He called on people to report suspected corruption and cooperate with police investigating corruption cases. 

The commission and its investigative arm have broad powers to investigate allegations, use court orders to freeze assets and work with authorities overseas. 

The report notes that the Anti-Corruption Unit, the commission’s enforcement arm staffed with police officers empowered to investigate and give cases to the Department of Public Prosecution for charges, concluded 15 cases over the 2014-2015 fiscal year, down from 30 the year before. At the end of June, the commission reports, investigators had 12 active cases, two people awaiting trial, two people awaiting charges from the prosecutor, and two more people charged. Eleven cases are pending, awaiting further information. 

Two of the active cases involve defendants awaiting appeal hearings. 

The commission has not brought charges against a defendant in two years. 

“These investigations are often long, drawn out and methodical,” Mr. Baines writes. He added, “They have far-reaching implications and as such the evidence takes time to gather and analyse.” 

“The investigators who make up the Anti-Corruption Unit (the ACU) work tirelessly interviewing witnesses, analyzing, assessing and recording data in order to progress investigations to the point where persons can be charged and prosecuted for these crimes,” he writes. 

According to the report, corruption investigators conducted 106 interviews and served three letters for production of documents. 

“The majority of the work of the investigators during the last reporting period has been on long term protracted investigations which have been complex and time consuming as evidenced by the high number of interviews conducted,” the report states. 

It adds, “Whilst no persons were convicted in the last year, two persons were charged and an additional person is still awaiting trial.” 

The commission has not met since February, according to manager of the Commissions Secretariat Deborah Bodden. 

The commission, which is down to one permanent member, is made up of the police commissioner, auditor general and the complaints commissioner, along with two members appointed by the governor. Former Complaints Commissioner Nicola Williams left her post at the beginning of the year for a new position as ombudsman for the U.K. Armed Forces. Ms. Williams has been replaced on the commission by Acting Complaints Commissioner Bridgette Von Gerhardt. 

Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick recently left his position to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris. Deputy Auditor General Garnet Harrison has replaced Mr. Swarbrick as acting auditor general. 

The two appointed members, Leonard Ebanks and Sir Peter Allen, resigned from the commission in February at the end of their terms. The governor is responsible for appointing the two independent members, but neither has yet been replaced. 

Mr. Baines, commending the departed independent members, said the commission is “indebted to your service over the past five years and wish you all the best.”