On corruption: The duties of the governor

“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.”
— Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Commissioner David Baines
Cayman has a reputation for being a hotbed of corruption, but it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s a view we share with Police Commissioner Baines.

A modest first step toward that goal would be to appoint people to fill the four vacancies on the five-member Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Commission, which since February has been a “committee of one,” namely, Police Commissioner Baines.

In practical terms, we understand that the “teeth” of the watchdog group remain intact, in the form of the police officers comprising the Anti-Corruption Unit. Additionally, two of the four “vacancies” on the commission technically have warm bodies in them, Acting Complaints Commissioner Bridgette von Gerhardt and Acting Auditor General Garnet Harrison.

“Acting,” however, isn’t nearly good enough when it comes to the topic of corruption in Cayman and especially when Cayman plays a leading role in one of the most sensational international corruption scandals of the millennium — FIFA.

Premier Alden McLaughlin and this newspaper are “on the record” as being in agreement that “Cayman must continue to adopt a “zero-tolerance” toward corruption … .” That implies that our officials are 100 percent dedicated to rooting out the scourge of corruption wherever it exists in our country’s public and private sectors.

How, though, can we reconcile that statement of commitment to the appearance of our primary anti-corruption entity being “only 20 percent full” — and the fact that it hasn’t convened since February?

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Don’t mistake us. We aren’t laying the blame for the Anti-Corruption Commission’s shortcomings at the feet of our premier, or any of our elected officials. Rather, we direct our attention toward the individual charged by the Cayman Islands Constitution with the maintenance of “good governance” in our islands: Governor Helen Kilpatrick.

In addition to that broad principle, the Constitution also specifically makes it the sole responsibility of the governor to appoint the auditor general and complaints commissioner, as well as the police commissioner. The Constitution stipulates that “no regulations … shall delegate any powers vested in the Governor in relation to [those offices] … and no law enacted by the Legislature may provide for any person or authority other than the Governor to exercise those powers.”

(On an unrelated but relevant aside, the same constitutional section also applies to the information commissioner. This raises questions in our minds about the appropriateness, if not the legality, of the elected government’s stated plans to merge the offices of the complaints commissioner and information commissioner into a single “Office of the Ombudsman,” depending on how it is constructed.)

The governor, too, is responsible for appointing the two remaining independent members of the Anti-Corruption Commission.

In other words, when it comes to the vacancies on the Anti-Corruption Commission, and when it comes to battling corruption in Cayman generally, the buck stops on the governor’s desk.

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  1. We know that the parents of the house should be the leader of that house, and when those parents lead with good examples and morals ,you see good kids come from that house. This also apply to Government,and where this problem starts.

  2. Of course two wrongs does not make it right, but Cayman Island is only a drop in the bucket considering the corruption in other jurisdictions.
    Clearly Cayman is the envy of many places and because of this we have been painted with a Black stick labeled "Corrupted jurisdiction" I think most of these accusations are unfounded, and implied just because we continue to up keep a good standard of living.

  3. The way I read the Commissioner’s words is that the international perceptions about the Cayman Islands’ abuse by scoundrels outside the Islands – most in the US, actually — are difficult to eradicate.

    In fact, Sir Ronald Sanders, the current candidate for the post of Commonwealth Secretary General, just a few weeks back wrote about this phenomenon and lamented the public relations’ burden carried by small states such as those in the region that serve as international financial centres. He noted that many of these small states are much better regulated and far less susceptible to abuse nowadays than those in the US states that are heavily engaged in the same business as we are but which seem to be operating below the media radar.

    Certainly, the Commissioner is well aware of the enormous strides the Cayman Islands has made in establishing its financial industry on a rigorous path of compliance with international standards.
    This is not to say that I am not in agreement that we have strayed way too far from the foundation of integrity and honesty for which our forebears were known. This is certainly not to say that we should not be ever more vigilant in ensuring that we do not succumb to the temptations of graft and corruption endemic elsewhere and which are indeed rearing their ugly head here.

    Nevertheless, I think a little contextualizing and adjustment of tone would have helped in your editorial, rather than extending the Commissioner’s words to mean that we are a “hotbed of corruption,” using your words.