Anti-Corruption Commission: No meeting in past 12 months

Police Commissioner David Baines
Police Commissioner David Baines

The last meeting of the Anti-Corruption Commission was on Feb. 13, 2015, a year ago Saturday.

The five-member commission, tasked with investigating public corruption in the Cayman Islands, is down to one permanent member and has not had a quorum in a year.

The commission is made up of the police commissioner, the complaints commissioner, the auditor general and two members appointed by the governor. But the complaints commissioner left her post a year ago and the auditor general resigned last fall, and neither has been replaced.

Both of the appointed members resigned last February and they, too, have not been replaced, leaving Police Commissioner David Baines as the sole member of the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Mr. Baines could not be reached by press time Thursday.

However, writing late last year in the commission’s most recent annual report, Mr. Baines noted that during the past year, “cases of corruption continued to make their way into the spotlight, both on a local and international level. These cases reiterate the [commission’s] stance that corruption continues to exist at various levels in the Cayman Islands.”

Corruption cases have made headlines in Cayman and around the world in recent months with the Canover Watson corruption trial in the Cayman Islands, and its significant ties to the FIFA case in the United States, where former Cayman Islands Football Association President Jeffrey Webb has already pleaded guilty.

The terms for the two appointed members, Leonard Ebanks and Sir Peter Allen, ended at the end of February 2015. The governor has not named replacements for the two seats, but Acting Auditor General Garnet Harrison said he expects two new members will be named this month.

Mr. Harrison said he has been invited to a meeting of the Anti-Corruption Commission “in the next couple of weeks” to get new members oriented with the commission, pointing to a possible revival of the group.

The commission “is supposed to play an important role in the Cayman Islands,” Mr. Harrison said.

“This should be an active commission,” he added.

Mr. Harrison took over the auditor general’s post in October when former Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick left for a new position with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. Government has not named a new permanent auditor general, but Mr. Harrison said he expects an announcement on a permanent replacement this month.

As acting auditor general, Mr. Harrison could still sit on the Anti-Corruption Commission as a voting member. The other permanent position is assigned to the complaints commissioner, but government has not selected a new complaints commissioner since Nicola Williams left the post at the beginning of 2015 for a job with the United Kingdom.

Bridget von Gerhardt has served as acting complaints commissioner since Ms. Williams left.
Investigations continue

The commission is meant to review and investigate corruption accusations. The Anti-Corruption Unit, made up of police investigators, is in charge of enforcing anti-corruption laws and sending possible charges to the Department of Public Prosecutions.

In the commission’s last annual report, Chairman Mr. Baines writes, “These investigations are often long, drawn out and methodical.

“They have far-reaching implications and as such the evidence takes time to gather and analyze.

“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.

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  1. Based on recent comments by the Premier there is no corruption in these islands so why should they meet?

    On a more serious note this boils down to the fundamental problem of how you investigate anything of a sensitive nature in a small community like the Cayman Islands. A five-member commission may look good on paper but in reality it’s going to be about as much use as the proverbial chocolate teapot because to avoid conflicts the real investigations will always have to be the responsibility of RCIPS or even external law enforcement assets along the lines of (but hopefully more successful than) Operation Tempura.

    One of the problems with corruption is that, unlike more basic crimes like theft and assault, you can never be sure how many people are involved or who they all are so the more people who are privy to the investigations the less likely they are to catch anyone. This was a daft, unworkable, politically correct idea from day one and the sooner it’s wound up the better.