Statement: Premier refutes Opposition claim that Cayman National Shareholders owe Government money

On Friday 5th October the Leader of the Opposition issued a press statement entitled “Opposition calls for the repayment of CI$20 million owed to the people of the Cayman Islands”.  This was regarding the settlement of 2004 Hurricane Ivan property insurance claims between the Cayman Islands Government and Cayman General Insurance Ltd.

The decisions taken regarding these insurance claims were made by the Government in office in 2004, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, when the Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin, along with Anthony Eden and Arden McLean were members of the PPM Opposition. This is a fact of which the Leader of the Opposition as well as Anthony Eden and Arden McLean are obviously well aware.  The accusation by the Leader of the Opposition that Mr. McLaughlin supported the settlement is therefore a deliberate untruth as both Mr. Eden and Mr. McLean would know.

The government records, including a 2007report by the Auditor General, show that this was a negotiated settlement, with the benefit of legal advice, agreed between the Cayman Islands Government and Cayman General in full and final settlement of all claims made by the Cayman Islands Government against Cayman General, arising from loss and damage suffered by the Government as a result of the passage of Hurricane Ivan.   Government reached a settlement position of CI$70 million with Cayman General.  The agreement provided for the payment by Cayman General of CI$50 million dollars to the Cayman Islands Government within thirty days as well as the transfer to the Government of 24% of the shares in Cayman General.  This allowed Government to have quick access to much needed cash in the aftermath of the disastrous passage of Ivan. There was no loan made to Cayman General as part of the negotiated agreement as the Opposition statement infers.  Government still owns the shares which are now held in Cayman First Insurance given the sale of Cayman General some years later.

Regardless of whether or not the Opposition, or others, consider this a good commercial deal, the reality is the agreement was a legally binding contract in FULL AND FINAL settlement of all claims which the Government had against Cayman General arising from Hurricane Ivan.  There is no outstanding loan and no money owed to the Cayman Islands Government by Cayman General, or its successor Cayman First Insurance or Cayman National Corporation.

Premier McLaughlin stated “75% of the shareholders in Cayman National Corporation are Caymanians and it is both reckless and callous in the extreme, for the Opposition to seek to damage the company’s reputation and further to insist that its Caymanian Shareholders should pay Government CI$20 million which is not owed, given the final agreed settlement.”

Mr. McLaughlin continued “These disingenuous statements are part of a growing pattern of false accusations made by the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues.  In this instance they appear to be aimed at derailing the sale of the majority of shares in Cayman National Corporation which will principally benefit Caymanians.”

“These deliberate attempts to continue to mislead the public on crucially important national issues such as this are deeply regrettable and unbecoming of the Leader of the Opposition and the members of the Legislative Assembly who appear to be blindly following his lead.”

Office of the Premier