The Cayman Islands government recorded two arrests and one conviction for corruption-related offenses during its last budget year, according to a report made public last month.
The lone criminal conviction for the year, between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016, was against local businessman Canover Watson in February in connection with the public hospital system’s CarePay scandal.
Relatively few reports overall were made to the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Commission, now in its sixth year of operation since the enactment of the Anti-Corruption Law. There were nine reports made to the commission during the year, resulting in 12 reports made to the government Legal Department.
The commission now has 11 active cases – some of which were filed before last year – and another 13 investigations it listed as “pending further information.” Another 10 investigations were transferred to other agencies.
Since Jan. 1, 2010, there have been 132 reports of suspected corrupt activity made to the commission. A total of 105 of those reports have been closed, meaning a case file was submitted to prosecutors, no offense was detected, or there was not enough evidence to prosecute.
According to the report, which was signed by Acting Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis, the commission continues to struggle with resources.
“The Anti-Corruption Commission continues to require an injection of funding in order to meet the demands of its workload,” the report noted. “During the reporting year the [commission] manager received permission from the head of the civil service to recruit and fill the two Investigator posts. The open recruitment drive was successful and the new staff will take up their posts during the next reporting period.”
Commission manager Deborah Bodden said the agency has three investigators on staff. Those officers fall directly under the control of the five-member commission. Previously, the investigator positions were staffed by police officers on secondment from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, she said.
The commission is seeking to hire a fourth investigator, a trainee, and to recruit a Caymanian to that position, Ms. Bodden said. It was noted in recent meeting minutes for the commission that compliance with international financial reporting standards might require the commission to further increase its budget.
The commission has changed its makeup significantly in recent months, with legislators approving changes that removed all public officers – including the commissioner of police and the auditor general – from its membership.
Four new commission members were appointed in August by Governor Helen Kilpatrick, including Chairman Richard Coles, the former Cayman Islands attorney general. Other new members named were attorney Sophia Harris, former Cayman Islands Monetary Authority Director Tim Ridley and accountant Kadi Merren-Pentney. They joined the lone existing commission member, businessman Norman Bodden.
Mr. Coles said the Anti-Corruption Commission has serious work ahead in seeking to regain the public’s trust.
“The most important thing is … to ensure we do our best to make the new commission a body that Caymanians and others can have confidence in,” Mr. Coles said. “[In past years] the confidence just wasn’t there, for one reason or another. If the public [doesn’t] have confidence in these kinds of bodies, they lose effectiveness.”
Mr. Coles, who left the attorney general’s post in 1998, said he hopes the new group of “independent private citizens” will help to restore some of the lost confidence.
The new commission has held two meetings, in September and October.