The Cayman Islands government has spent more than $10 million in relation to the failed Operation Tempura corruption investigation since 2007.
However, there are likely millions more dollars in expenditures related to the probe that have never been made known and which one former auditor general declined to examine.
Another former auditor general, Dan Duguay, has always maintained his initial queries into Tempura investigation spending are what led to his ouster from the office after his contract was not renewed in early 2010. Mr. Duguay was the last government official to look into the ill-fated investigation’s spending, and his exact tally only went through January 2009.
The Tempura audit revealed that $5.7 million was spent on the investigation from September 2007 to January 2009. Mr. Duguay estimated a further $1.1 million was spent from February 2009 through June 2009, but it did not specifically review costs for that period.
Those costs included money spent on U.K. Metropolitan Police officers seconded for the investigative efforts, additional cash for U.K.-based law enforcement consulting firms, official travel, housing, transport and office accommodations in Cayman.
The estimates of further $1.1 million in spending between February 2009 and June 2009 were based on the costs continuing at the January 2009 levels, according to Mr. Duguay’s audit. However, the Operation Tempura team was in Cayman through the end of 2009, and some officials involved in the probe stayed and were later hired by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service in April 2010. Any costs related to continued work from July 2009 and beyond were never audited.
When Alastair Swarbrick took over the audit office later in 2010, his long-term plan included a second look at “value for money” received by Cayman for the Tempura investigation.
However, in 2013, when asked about the potential new audit for Operation Tempura spending, Mr. Swarbrick said he did not see any “value” in delving back into the issue.
More than $3.1 million has been spent on legal settlements and attorneys fees related to ongoing Tempura court battles, but it is likely that amount does not even reflect half of what was actually spent.
The wrongful arrest of former Grand Court Justice Alex Henderson during the Tempura investigation cost government $1.275 million to settle in 2008. However, details of other settlements reached with former RCIPS Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, Deputy Commissioner Rudi Dixon and retired Police Inspector Burmon Scott were never made public due to various non-disclosure agreements.
Legal bills for other matters cost nearly $1.8 million as of early 2014, but that sum also may not account for all the costs incurred. Those expenses included:
The Attorney General’s Chambers spent $728,700.17 for outside counsel in relation to the wrongful termination lawsuit Mr. Kernohan filed in May 2009 over his firing from the RCIPS. The lawsuit was settled in early 2014
Another $299,618.37 was paid for outside attorneys in relation to a case the attorney general’s office described as “Bridger matters.” This is presumably a reference to a case filed against former Operation Tempura senior investigator Martin Bridger by attorneys general in Cayman and the U.K. seeking to recover documents Mr. Bridger held from the investigation between 2007 and 2009
A government payment of $343,214 went for “Polaine/Bridger complaints.” This is a reference to money spent on an evaluation of a complaint former Operation Tempura legal adviser Martin Polaine filed with the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the aftermath of the failed investigation. Mr. Polaine later dropped the matter, but Mr. Bridger carried it forward, alleging misconduct on the part of some members of the Cayman judiciary, as well as certain members of the attorney general’s chambers
The territory’s former government said the Polaine/Bridger allegations were “without merit,” but the government spent another $375,000 in legal fees haggling over the public release of that report between 2014 and 2016 before finally releasing a redacted version of it.
Finally, $41,617 was spent on outside attorney’s fees in what is termed the “A. Henderson matter.” This was in relation to the lawsuit filed by Mr. Henderson over his 2008 arrest.
Not all spending in relation to the Operation Tempura probe took place in the Cayman Islands.
According to records obtained by the Cayman Compass and reports in the U.K. press, former Operation Tempura senior investigator Martin Bridger had been paid roughly CI$250,000 (£180,000) in legal assistance as of mid-2014 and had authorization at the time to receive about CI$372,500 (£268,000) more should the need arise.
The veteran police officer has told the Compass that he had sought additional financial assistance from the U.K. Metropolitan Police in defending civil claims brought against him by the Cayman Islands government in Britain. Mr. Bridger said during 2014 that he received a £200,000 bill from the Cayman government following a hearing in the U.K. where Caymanian officials attempted to recover certain records they believed the retired U.K. lawman still had in his possession.
Mr. Bridger said at the time that he feared his family’s home would have to be mortgaged in order for him to afford rapidly mounting legal bills related to civil actions filed against him in the Tempura matter.
Mr. Bridger was also placed under investigation in the Cayman Islands sometime during 2013 over what officials alleged was a bogus complaint he made about senior Cayman and U.K. officials lying to him about certain issues in the Tempura investigation. That criminal investigation lasted more than four years and the matter was only set aside last month with no charges against Mr. Bridger.