EDITORIAL – Cayman’s new anti-corruption ‘Dream Team’

Typically, the formation of government boards (like the formulation of government reports) merits only a passing mention within the pages of this newspaper. Their utility too often expires with the last echo of introductory applause.

However, on occasion a government announcement hits our inboxes carrying a certainty that, in this case, this group of individuals will have a significant impact on the workings of the public sector.

The appointment of the new Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Commission is such a case, and the new board is such a group.

We, therefore, laud the selection of commission chairman Richard Coles and members Timothy Ridley, Sophia Harris, Norman Bodden and Kadi Pentney-Merren. Their appointments ought to give great assurance to the law-abiding segments of society, and conversely send chills down the spines of less-than-scrupulous individuals in the public service.

Back in November 2015, we called on Governor Helen Kilpatrick to expedite the process of filling out the five-member board, which at the time was composed mainly of appointed officials serving ex officio (the police commissioner, complaints commissioner and auditor general). We noted that, during the fallout from the international FIFA corruption scandal, the commission had met only once since February 2015, and had only one “permanent” (i.e. “non-acting”) member, then-Police Commissioner David Baines.

We said, “[W]hen 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.”

After a nine-month waiting period, and legislation that overhauled the makeup of the commission (which now is wholly comprised of private citizens), the governor has finally moved decisively. From top to bottom, the five-member commission (three of them attorneys) bespeaks seriousness and substance.

  • Mr. Coles, the new chairman, is a former Cayman Islands attorney general. He also has served as chairman of the Human Rights Commission, as head of Cayman Finance, and as a member of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission
  • Mr. Ridley is a former senior partner at local law firm Maples and Calder and former board chairman of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority. As evidence of the Compass’s esteem for Mr. Ridley, in the past he has also been chairman of the editorial board of Cayman Financial Review, one of our sister publications. To put it mildly, Mr. Ridley knows the workings of our country’s private financial services industry – and its public sector regulator – inside and out
  • Ms. Harris is managing partner of local law firm Solomon Harris. Over the years, she has built a well-deserved reputation as one of the foremost authorities on Cayman immigration law, and more generally as one of the country’s most respected attorneys
  • Mr. Bodden, of Bodden & Bodden Attorneys at Law and Bodden Corporate Services, has served on the commission since last December and is the only returning appointee. Now known chiefly for his successful business endeavors, Mr. Bodden was a member of the Legislative Assembly for 12 years, until 1992
  • Ms. Pentney-Merren is an accountant who won the Young Caymanian Leadership Award in 2014. She also is an entrepreneur, founding local business Tea Time in Cayman.

We must congratulate Governor Kilpatrick for her selection of commission members. To the commission members themselves, we offer our full support in this all-important endeavor.

Corruption is a cancer in all societies, and it must be extricated at the root, or it will ultimately destroy the foundations upon which our way of life is dependent.