Clifford: Turtle Farm enquiry needed to be independent

| 05/09/2008

(CNS): Responding to the findings of the Financial Crimes Unit (FCU) into potential wrong doing over the financing of the Turtle Farm redevelopment project, that there was no evidence of a crime, Tourism Minister Charles Clifford said that there should have been an independent enquiry. “I believe given what happened it should have been done by an independent team,” he said.

After more than a year-long investigation, the Financial Crimes Unit (FCU) of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) announced that it had found no evidence of a criminal offence surrounding the financial arrangements for the redevelopment of the Turtle Farm on Tuesday 26 August. Superintendent Mike Needham said that after a thorough investigation by his team there was nothing to substantiate a crime. Clifford said that he understood the problem of insufficient evidence but that it should have been an external investigation.

“I’ve read the statement from the acting Commissioner of Police on this issue and as a former Police Officer I understand what happens when you are involved in an investigation and you get to a certain point and you have to make a determination one way or another as to whether or not you have sufficient evidence,” he said at the weekly press briefing.  

“I believe the investigation, as well as the investigation with respect to the Affordable Housing Scheme, given what has happened with the Gold Command in the police service and the high profile nature of both of these investigations, they should have been taken over by an independent agency. Perhaps an independent team from Scotland Yard should have properly reviewed those two cases before they were submitted to the legal department for aruling.”

He said that from the position of public perception it should have been reviewed by an independent agency to satisfy the people that it had been properly reviewed and the conclusions were right — which ever direction those conclusion might have gone. “Regardless of the conclusion, the Caymanian public understand what has gone on at Boatswains Beach and they haven’t forgotten it,” he added.

The FCU investigation began as a result of findings in Dan Duguay, the Auditor General’s report that there were considerable irregularities in the financing of the Boatswain Beach redevelopment project and a potentially significant waste of public funds which could have had a criminal component.

In the wake of the FCUs findings, the Leader of the Opposition told CNS that he planned to bring law suits against the Leader of Government Business, Kurt Tibbetts and the People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) for the comments and accusations they had made regarding his role in the financing of the project. Clifford said he would welcome such a move.

“This wouldn’t be another kangaroo hearing as we had recently with the Sir Tucker enquiry,” Clifford added.  “This would be a proper court hearing in which Mr Bush himself would be subject to cross examination and then those issues that are highlighted in the various Auditor General’s reports could then be properly ventilated in the court. If that is the direction he wants to go in that is fine.”

He said there were numerous occasions when the Leader of the Opposition had made defamatory statements about the entire government and individuals so if he was to choose the legal route there would likely be a series of counter suits. “If he pursues this,” the Minister said “it would be to distract the government leading into the general election.”

Clifford also noted that Bush must be receiving poor legal advice as the law of defamation assumes that if you involve your self in public life you must be prepared to take a certain amount of criticism and the law accommodates that.

 

 

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  1. smith says:

    Cannot disagree with that However just one point lets see the bill or a breakdown of expenses the con sultants produced for their services and then see if can be verified or not that should determine if some folks obtained property by deception even better let see their certification as consultants to such a project and finally lets see if we got a million dollars worth of work. Do not hold ya breath on that one either.

  2. Knal N. Domp says:

    Clifford has unsurprisingly not yet been able to grasp what’s happened here-

    1. The RCIPS is independent. It is not controlled or influenced by Clifford and his friends and neither is it controlled or influenced by McKeewa and his friends. It falls under the ambit of the Governor and is therefore independent of political influence. Calling in Scotland Yard does not make the investigation any more independent, and in fact, if Bridger’s disastrous investigation into Helicopter Man is anything to go by, make even exacerbate the situation further.

    2. There was no crime committed by theBoatswain’s Beach board (of which Clifford was a member). There may have been some dodgy risk management and a whole lot of misdirected enthusiasm (as with the Affordable Housing affair) and one should call it incompetence if one must, but no crime was committed. It is disingenious now for Clifford to call foul- he missed that chance back in 2004.

    3. When it comes to relative culpability in acting in a manner that is found to be less than unscrupulous, Clifford is already skating on thin ice. He naturally brands the Governor’s Enquiry into his own conduct, a "kangaroo court" because it found against him, and accordingly finds the RCIPS’ verdict of ‘move on, no crime- nothing to see here’ to be unacceptable because his ends are not being adequately served.

    Maybe Clifford should revise his Law School and Police College notes on crime, culpability and due process…