Governor Choudhury ‘temporarily withdrawn’ from post, UK confirms investigation is under way

Anwar Choudhury sits in the Legislative Assembly on March 26, when he was sworn in as Cayman’s new governor. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office informed local government officials on Tuesday that it had temporarily withdrawn Mr. Choudhury from his post. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Cayman Islands Governor Anwar Choudhury’s appointment has been “temporarily withdrawn” for at least the next several weeks while an unspecified investigation proceeds against him, officials with the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office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 Anwar Choudhury, has been temporarily withdrawn from his post as Governor of the Cayman Islands to allow the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to investigate a number of complaints against him,” the premier’s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.

RELATED: Statement from Premier Alden McLaughlin 

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 Anwar Choudhury, with his 3-month-old daughter Emilia in his arms, and his wife Momina step off a Cayman Airways flight on March 26, when Mr. Choudhury took up his new post. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

New governor

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.

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  1. I think this is very mysterious that Mr Choudhury would be under investigation, as soon we are starting to learn really how good of a Governor he is going to be . To me it seems that the Governor is liked by everyone, and he cared about the people of Cayman Islands, and just like what Mr Bush about him upon arrival 3 months ago “a good family man”. I hope this is not another Tempura # 2 , and that he can return to his job very shortly .

    Cayman Compass, I hope that you keep digging into this investigation to keep the public as informed about this topic as you can .

  2. I can’t get over the expression of Mr Choubhury in the photo , he looks as disappointed as disappointment can be . He should be after falling in love with the Islands and the people and was trying to make the Islands as civilized as it should be.

  3. I don’t live in the Cayman Islands, I only visit annually but I keep up to date with the Compass and I have to say I was duly impressed with what I saw of the new governor. He seemed to be everywhere and very happy with his new post. I am quite surprised to say the least and I hope it isn’t sour grapes with the established politicians. He did seem to want change, to be involved, and perhaps “they” aren’t used to, or interested in …that. I hope not.
    I am also hoping it isn’t anything in the harassment arena. Real or imagined as it all hurts.
    I will continue to watch and see how this wraps up.

    • When I look at this mysterious investigation that has happened to Mr Choudhury , and seeing NO SUPPORT him in this and during this debacle , a man that seems to have LOVED US AND CARED ABOUT THE FUTURE OF US ALL , and no one can even as much as say one kind word on his behalf , really makes me wonder if the Islands deserves a man like Mr Choudhury . I hope that when the truth comes to light that everyone would see the light , and start holding people accountable for their actions . God bless Cayman Islands and the people .

  4. Talking about disappointment , here we have a mystery of an investigation happening to one of the best Governors Cayman Islands has ever seen , and that I think will never show his face or try to help us again, and everyone is having nothing to say about it .
    Do we know that Mr Choudhury was going to try to make a difference in the Islands and our lives , and here we are sitting down quietly like nothing happened .

    I would have to think that this mysterious investigation is a big deal , not knowing all the details around it , but knowing that we lost a good Governor that was going to be here for me and you . This kind of behavior just shows the government that we are going to except everything that happens in the Islands . Why aren’t we demanding some answers to what this investigation is all about and not taking hogwash answers too .