Cayman Islands Governor Anwar Choudhury’s appointment has been “temporarily withdrawn” for at least the next several weeks while an unspecified investigation proceeds against him, officials with the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed via the governor’s office Wednesday.
The U.K.’s confirmation was preceded by a statement from Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin that was released at 6:49 a.m. local time Wednesday.
“His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Anwar Choudhury, has been temporarily withdrawn from his post as Governor of the Cayman Islands to allow the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to investigate a number of complaints against him,” the premier’s statement read.
The Cayman Compass attempted through several avenues to reach Governor Choudhury on Wednesday regarding the move. No response was received by press time Wednesday.
The premier’s statement did not specify whether the complaints against Mr. Choudhury were related to Cayman or elsewhere. The premier also did not state the nature of the complaints.
Multiple government sources contacted by the Cayman Compass Wednesday indicated that the complaints had been made internally within the governor’s office in Cayman. Head of the Governor’s Office Matthew Forbes declined to discuss specifics surrounding the allegations.
Premier McLaughlin and Deputy Governor Franz Manderson were informed late Tuesday of the decision to temporarily withdraw Governor Choudhury’s appointment. Mr. Manderson, now Cayman’s acting governor, declined to comment when contacted Wednesday.
Mr. McLaughlin, who is in the U.K. this week for meetings with the Joint Ministerial Council, said he was advised by the U.K. overseas territories minister, Lord Tariq Ahmad, that Mr. Choudhury was in the U.K. and that the investigation against him was likely to take four to six weeks.
“While this development was unforeseen and is most unfortunate, I am confident that it will not affect the continued good governance of the Cayman Islands,” Premier McLaughlin said.
Lord Ahmad told Cayman officials that the foreign office did not intend to make any public statement regarding the matter. Despite that, the Governor’s Office did release a statement later on Wednesday, essentially confirming what the premier had already announced.
“Anwar Choudhury, Governor of the Cayman Islands, has been temporarily withdrawn from his post to allow the FCO to investigate a number of complaints against him,” the office’s statement read.
Mr. Choudhury is Cayman’s 13th territorial governor since the position was established in 1971. No previous governor has been withdrawn from service after just more than two months in that office.
Cayman’s Leader of the Opposition Ezzard Miller called the sudden development “unfortunate.”
“This is an unfortunate turn of events following the most promising start to Mr. Choudhury’s tenure as governor since he arrived here in March,” Mr. Miller said.
Governor Choudhury, who turns 59 on Friday, arrived in Cayman on March 26 amid great fanfare as the British Overseas Territory’s first non-British-born governor and its first Muslim governor.
The Bangladeshi-born U.K. diplomat, formerly the British ambassador to Peru, made a big first impression carrying his infant daughter off the Cayman Airways plane following its arrival. He was effusive in his initial praise for the islands and the warmth of its people, borrowing a quote from his 12-year-old daughter, Ambreene, upon her arrival at the governor’s residence along Grand Cayman’s picturesque Seven Mile Beach.
“Dad,” Ambreene asked her father, “is this real?”
“That’s what it feels like,” Mr. Choudhury said of his first day in the British Overseas Territory. “It’s difficult to explain the feeling of arriving in this wonderful, beautiful island. I’m a people person, and what really took me is the warmth … the wonderful warmth of the people. It just feels that the people here are something special.
“I have been on these islands no more than a few hours and I’m already beginning to understand what you mean by Caymankind,” Mr. Choudhury told an audience of hundreds at Pedro St. James the evening of March 26.
Shortly after his arrival, it became clear that Mr. Choudhury was not here on a sightseeing tour. He carried forward a far more public persona than previous U.K.-appointed representatives had done, advocating for monthly meetings of the National Security Council, backing the creation of legally recognized civil unions in Cayman and taking a leadership role in Cayman’s discussions with Britain concerning the future of its financial services industry.
Mr. Choudhury had just completed an interview with the Compass on Thursday afternoon in which he stated his intention to work with Cayman on the formation of a strategy to address U.K. requirements that the territory adopt a public register of company ownership by December 2020.
The new governor had also announced plans to significantly reduce the amount of bureaucracy Cayman residents often have to wade through in dealing with government.
During last Thursday’s interview, the governor had also briefly discussed his intention to travel to the U.K. for the Joint Ministerial Council meeting between Britain and its overseas territories, scheduled for June 14. However, if he was aware of any developments surrounding his temporary withdrawal from office at that time, he gave no indication of it.