Port director suspended in internal investigation

Cayman Islands Port Authority Director Clement Reid was suspended Wednesday for “up to three months” in connection with an internal investigation at the authority.

Port Authority Board Chairman Errol Bush said Wednesday the matters that led to the suspension were not all related to issues revealed in a recently released report by the Cayman Islands Auditor General.

Mr. Bush said some of the matters contained in the auditor’s report led to the suspension, but he said other concerns had arisen which were not contained in that report.

He declined to specify what the other issues were in relation to Mr. Reid.

Mr. Bush told the Cayman Compass the suspension was not an indication that Mr. Reid had done anything wrong, but rather that he could not continue in his position as director while the internal investigation was proceeding.

According to a Port Authority statement released Wednesday afternoon: “The board of directors of the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands has, with immediate effect, suspended Mr. Clement Reid, port director, for a period of up to three months in order to facilitate an internal investigation into matters allegedly concerning Mr. Reid.”

The Cayman Compass contacted Mr. Reid for comment Wednesday, but he had not responded by press time.

Long-time port operations manager Joseph Woods has been appointed as acting port director in the interim period.

Mr. Reid was initially given a second chance via a warning letter dated Feb. 21, following the release of the auditor’s review to the port board that identified a number of “irregularities” in the agency’s hiring practices. Other areas noted in the audit report included a suspected theft of boat engines that was not reported to police, and the assignment of an employee to attend a member of the Legislative Assembly during out of town trips.

Mr. Bush said the hiring problems highlighted in the auditor’s report were not the reason for Mr. Reid’s suspension on Wednesday.

“The board wishes to advise you that it is generally displeased to have discovered the matters raised by the [auditor general’s] report, in particular … the manner in which you have unnecessarily created new positions and hired new staff at excessive salary rates in excess of the advertised salary ranges,” the Feb. 21 letter sent to Mr. Reid read. “The board is of the view that your conduct is tantamount to gross or serious misconduct in the course of your employment which would justify the board in summarily dismissing you without notice.”

However, the board stated, following a detailed presentation by Mr. Reid explaining his actions in relation to the various matters raised in the auditor’s report, that it would not adopt “such a draconian course” as terminating the director’s appointment.

Rather, board members issued the written warning, essentially stating that if similar misconduct was seen in the future, a termination of employment would occur.

Mr. Reid was given a month to “commence performing duties in a satisfactory manner” and has now been kept on beyond that point.

“The board has taken into account your long tenure with the port authority, your detailed written responses to the [auditor general’s] report and willingness to meet the board at short notice on Feb. 15, 2018, your alacrity in acknowledging that mistakes were made by you and your evident commitment to do your job to the best of your ability,” the port letter of warning further stated.