Acting Governor Manderson defers open records request
Cayman Islands Acting Governor Franz Manderson has deferred any public release of the contents of staff complaints made against withdrawn Governor Anwar Choudhury, stating all such records belong to the United Kingdom government.
Mr. Manderson responded Thursday to a June 14 Cayman Compass open records request seeking the publication of details of those allegations.
“The governor … has determined that the Freedom of Information Law does not apply in this instance as the requested records belong to the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,” the response received Thursday morning under the governor’s seal read.
The Cayman Compass filed a separate open records request with the U.K. government seeking a summary of, or copies of, the staff complaints made against Mr. Choudhury.
The Cayman Islands governor is paid by the taxpayers of the Cayman Islands, although he or she is appointed by Her Majesty, the Queen of England via the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
However, some of the staff members in the governor’s office are actually foreign office employees, paid by the U.K. and it is understood in this matter that all complaints against Mr. Choudhury were made directly to the foreign office. Mr. Choudhury’s appointment was “temporarily withdrawn” on or about June 12 while an unspecified investigation proceeded against him.
U.K. officials said last month that the review was expected to take between four and six weeks.
Multiple government sources contacted by the Cayman Compass since Mr. Choudhury’s sudden removal indicated that complaints had been made internally within the governor’s office in Cayman and concerned his behavior while in office. Head of the Governor’s Office in Cayman, Matthew Forbes, has declined to discuss specifics surrounding the allegations.
Other media reports in the U.K. stated that Mr. Choudhury “abused” staff and had gotten involved in a “drunken row” with his mother-in-law during his brief time in Cayman, which lasted less than three months, between March and June. The Compass has been unable to independently confirm those reports.
The Compass has attempted to call, text and email message Mr. Choudhury since his temporary withdrawal, but has received no response.
Governor Choudhury, 59, arrived in Cayman on March 26, making history as the British Overseas Territory’s first non-British-born governor and its first Muslim governor.
The Bangladeshi-born U.K. diplomat had 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 also 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.