Mac defers PAC appearance

| 06/10/2011

(CNS): The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was adjourned Wednesday afternoon on its second day after the chair revealed that the premier, who had been called as a witness, was unable to attend as he was travelling overseas. Moses Kirkconnell, the new chair of PAC, said that McKeeva Bush, Central Tenders Committee Chair Ronnie Dunne and Peter Young, the UDP party treasurer, have all agreed to appear before PAC to answer questions regarding the financing arrangements for government’s loan in the last financial year. During his appearance before the committee on Wednesday Financial Secretary Ken Jefferson said that from the very beginning the Cohen representations appeared unrealistic.

Kirkconnell said he hoped, depending on the premier’s schedule and the next Legislative Assembly sitting, which is now expected to reconvene next week, that PAC would be able to examine the auditor general’s findings regarding the circumstances surrounding Cohen & Co loan with the three outstanding witnesses in the next two weeks.

During the tendering process to find financing for a loan of up to US$185 million, which government had been cleared to borrow by the UK, the premier overturned a CTC decision and awarded the financing deal to Cohen & Company Capital Markets LLC. According to representatives from the Treasury, the deal was submitted by a local firm called Advanced Fund Administration Cayman Ltd on behalf of Cohen and Co, and the PAC heard it was sent by email to government by Peter Young.

The financial secretary and representatives from the treasury department appeared as witnesses on Wednesday and shed further light on the behind the scenes moves surrounding the loan deal. Jefferson said that from the very beginning staff had concerns that the representations made by Cohen that it could guarantee a maximum interest rate of 4.5% on the length of the loan at the price it had offered was unrealistic. He told the committee that once government had signed a deal with Cohen, the firm became reticent about answering questions on how it would be able to guarantee the favourable rate.

Jefferson said that, as a result of the protracted discussions and the failure of government to get answers before committing to the full loan, there were cash flow problems and government was forced to take out the two short term bridging loans, which were arranged by Cohen. These two temporary loans ended up costing the public purse  almost half a million dollars more than if government had gone ahead with the joint local bid which had been successful during the open tender.

Jefferson further revealed that, as part of the deal, the Cayman government had to use Cohen to arrange the loans with Scotia Bank and Banque Havilland, and no due diligence was done at the time to see if the public purse got the best deal because of the pressing need to get the cash and as a result of being tied into Cohen.

Jefferson said that after several months questioning the New York financing firm, it eventually admitted that it could not supply government with the financing at the rate it had first suggested. At that point, given that no savings would ever be realised, the government terminated the deal and went back to the CTC to tender once again and, after the proper process was followed, the original joint bid was again successful.

Jefferson told PAC that there were certainly lessons to be learned from the experience and he agreed that having access to a market specialist in Treasury, which it now has, having employed the services of a UK capital markets expert, would have been helpful. But Jefferson also revealed that even without that high level of expertise brought by Geoff Bell the department recognised from very early on that the representations by Cohen were unrealistic. The financial secretary said that, to the best of his recollection, before the deal was signed no one in Treasury was asked for their opinion.

Bush will be facing questions from the committee about why he intervened in the central tendering process after a consortium of two local banks had won the bid and chose to go with a representation made by the New York based financing house when there was no apparent evidence that the company could produce the savings it claimed.

Since the cases studies on the management of government procurement was published in August, the premier has been outspokenly critical of the auditor general’s office and has stated that his decision to go with Cohen and Company and circumvent the process was to find a better solution for the country’s loan financing. “Had I succeeded, I would have saved this country over $24 million. And yes I would do it again as it is my duty to try and save money,” he said in a televised statement in August.

Bush is understood to currently be overseas on official business but, despite several requests to his office, no details of the latest trip have been revealed.

Category: Politics

Comments (54)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Isn't there a penalty for not appearing before the PAC? I bet if it was anyone else, they would be arrested as they got off the plane. My husband was once called for jury duty, immediately told them that we had a booked vacation with extended family off island and he was told that he would be arrested on his return if he did not appear on the appointed day. WTH????? Please, someone who really knows what can be done, tell us how we can force this man to attend the meeting. I bet if it was at some fancy hotel in Vegas he would be there with bells on.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What do you expect from a man who couldn't pass O level maths yet appointed himself Minister of Finance??.

    • Anonymous says:

      He didn't even get as far as O'Levels.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please, ease up on the lack of education bits. A lack of education does not make any sense in this story, it does not mean that's the reason he did not show up for the meetings – it is only a cheap shot at the person.

       

  3. Knot S Smart says:

    I really dont know where Mac is this time.

    I called India – they said he is not there.

    I called China – they said he is not there.

    I called Dubai – they said he is not there.

    I called the PAC – they said 'We looked in all the cracks and crevices and he is not there'

    And finally I called his press secretary and he said ' I am not here'!

    • Anonymous says:

      did you try the phone under his bed?

    • anonymouse says:

      This man, our pittance of a premier is better off when not here for us so that we don't get sick to our stomach by all the BS he is feeding us and keep playing with our future and emotions. If someone is doing real harm to our country, it is he. I pray that Divine Intervention will occur because our governor seems to be enjoying the show until the FCO tells him to pull the plug. I was never an advocate for independence however it don't sound so bad anymore, We can't even vote him out in a referandum and his YES man slallow every foolish things he comes with and rushes to pass laws so we don't have time to digest them in our best interest he says. How can those traiters sleep at nightis beyond me, but God do not like ugly, hear what I tell una…

  4. Anonymous says:

    The premier as well as any other member of his special circle, must be reminded that it is OUR money which they are spending. The nation's funds are NOT their private petty cash pan that they can dip into as and when the premier sees fit. 

    ANYONE spending OUR money has to account to us how when and why these funds have been expended. The vehicles for this control are already in place….the CTC and PAC are our financial guardians and we must  expect them to vigorously represent our interests.

    It is unthinkable that our leaders feel that they do not need to account to the public when questioned by the PAC. We must demand the same standards of financial transparency and scrutiny as would any other entity, bank or business in the private sector.

    The PAC's legitimate pursuit of their mandate must not be allowed to diverted, no matter who is spending, benefitting or receiving reward or commissions from the nation's financial resources.

    Please PAC members, do your duty, and let us be assured that we really have not sunk into a banana republic acceptance that those in power can do as they please. 

     

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wait for it, folks. Get your popcorn. The accusations, finger pointing, insults and tantrums to come from Mac are going to be very entertaining.

  6. so Anonymous says:

    Apparently in Grand Cayman you can run and you can hide.

  7. Anonymous says:

    PAC is at work.  I'm really glad to see that the Public Accounts Committee is functioning as it should. Seems that this is the only part of government that works.  And thank you CNS for reporting on the progress.  

    The facts are clear, this UDP government has wasted millions and kept us in the dark as to where we really stand from a financial standpoint by just not having their accounts up to date and audited.  

    It's reassuring to see that this PAC is providing transparency into how our public money has been spent.  Maybe with more public scrutiny the UDP MLAs will be less likely to treat it as if it's their own money.

     

  8. Profound Reality! says:

    Anyone know how to get wikileak on the case?

     

  9. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps he went overseas to purchase some industrial strength hand cleaner and heart purifier.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not even a Miracle Cleaner would work for that but thanks for the laugh – made my day!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Well, everyone's been telling him if he can't handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen.  I guess he actually listened and took our advice for once – tail between the legs and all.

  11. so Anonymous says:

    What are you going to do?  Its his island.  His Churces, his people, his money, His rules.  He is a Caymanian usually in Cayman.  Can't touch this.  Unless your on the civil service gravy train its best to avoid uneccessary contact with any CIG entity.

  12. EYE ON THE ISLAND says:

    Our double dipping leader can't stay at home when the chips are down. This is not a serious man. Churches and poverty centers are being robbed and our leader is out of town. That's a crime. I guess he can't take the heat.

    • Cat & Mouse says:

      He is playing the Cat and Mouse game. Little does he know that he is not the Fat Cat anymore but the Fat Mouse. He knew too well what was coming and I guessed it right, the dock and Chinese are coming real fast now. ANOTHER BLIND CHARM to get our minds from the real issues concerning him. He should not be allowed to make decisions any more and should be suspended until he is cleared from wrong doing as some former police officer but without pay or benefits.

  13. WANT SOME CHEESE WITH THAT 'WHINE'? says:

    Why don't you all stop the constant whining and just leave McKeeva alone to run the country the way he wants to, since you won't sign the referendum to remove him for making disastrous decisions like this? 

     

    I thought politicians were accountable to the voters, but if you refuse to exercise your constitutional right to be answered by McKeeva and his lot, and to make them accountable to us, EITHER PUT UP OR SHUT UP!

    • Anonymous says:

      "EITHER PUT UP OR SHUT UP!"

      ——————————————————–

      Or use the "Mac option":   go off island on "Official Business"

    • Anonymous says:

      Just leave Britney alone. Wahhhhh.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Mac you got to face the PAC.  You are holding up progress man. Remember you had an appointment, why did you run? Are you afraid of explaining? C'Mon man!!!

  15. Anonymous says:

    the local banks pay high business permit and infrastructure fees, employ thousands of Caymanians, give scholarships, support the community projects – but the times UDP has some business, they overlook the local banks: XXXXX

  16. Anonymous says:

    The heat is on and someone has left the kitchen.

  17. Anonymous says:

    "Run Forest, RUN!"

  18. Anonymous says:

    Should have had Mr. Kirkconnell working on loans instead of Mac.  He's a businessman and knows a bad loan when he sees it.  Put his hand to the fire, Moses. Make him squirm in his seat.  Prehaps, the PAC can move their meetings to Mac's private plane.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Mac PAC a wac.

  20. Geoge Towner says:

    Hey 10/06/2011-17:40   "If Mac fails to show at the next meeting I would suggest that the Governor step in and demand his presents".

    WHAT are your really demanding? Mac's PRESENTS? Well, 'Not today Bobo' You will get that in Christmas. But, if you are demanding his 'Presence' please make an appointment and make sure that it does not clash with his next trip.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Mac's just tourin' around China.  Maybe that's where the new port facility is being built?

  22. Singing Chicken says:

    More bureaucratic harrassmennt.  He is only human.  He has feelings.

    Keyboard solo – hit it John John.

  23. Knot S Smart says:

    When he comes back he will have some big new money making scheme and distract from the issue.. Maybe he in Dubai right now negotiating the deal.

    Probably the sixth pillar of our economy that will bring a few zillion dollars and boost our financial future.

    He will promise a complete economic recovery  in the next 90 days.

    And he will attack all those who are questioning him, and tell them about their grandmother's a**…

    • Anonymous says:

      Probably China to get some more of dem Chinese garments.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yea, not only is he acting like North Korea's Kim Jong-il he is also starting to dress like him!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Inviting Bush to PAC to answer questions is like inviting a bull into a china shop……….what a mess this will be. Can you see Bush answering questions posed by Kurt? Like Kurt says

    " not on the kindness of mornings"!!!!!!!!!

  25. EYE ON THE ISLAND says:

    Every time things get important Mac is out of the country. Can we get a leader that can stay home? He's always away on our dollar.

    • Chris Johnson says:

      Looks a bit like gross negligence on behalf of the Premier notwithstanding his banking expertise. Any professional advisor in the private sector would have received a lawsuit by now.

      • Alan Nivia says:

        You forgot to put "his banking experise" into the irony font.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well said Chris, I wonder how much THIS jaunt, (to we know not where), is costing and to what benefit….we'll never know, the Premier is above the law

  26. Anonymous says:

    If Mac fails to show at the next meeting I would suggest that the Governor step in and demand his presents.

    We all know Mac would prefer not to have to answer.  the People and the UK should demand it.

    He also should be reminded that he is there to answer questions, not belittle those asking the questions.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Hahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Yes. Story coming to bump. What a mess.

  28. Anonymous says:

    The abuse of my country by this man and his cronies is sickening. I do not see any end to it as long as any of them have any access to power.

  29. Anonymous says:

    What does Advanced Fund Administration Cayman Ltd have to say about this and who are the principals?

  30. Anonymous says:

    "despite several requests to his office, no details of the latest trip have been revealed."

    ————————————————————————————————————————-

    Did anyone expect the honest answer?:  "The purpose of his trip is to avoid answering questions from the PAC"

    • Anonymous says:

      do you mean to tell me no one knows where our premier is?!  what if he's in some kind of trouble?!  I am worried sick.  please call me if you see him.

  31. Anonymous says:

    "Had I succeeded, I would have saved this country over $24 million. And yes I would do it again as it is my duty to try and save money,” he said in a televised statement in August".

    That is like saying had my lottery ticket won I would be a very rich man. This is an example of extreme arrogance. He acted in breach of the law, ignored the advice of the government technocrats, had no evidence that Cohen could actually deliver what they promised, they could not and the deal failed, it cost the country $1/2m, the govt. had the embarrassment of returning to the same banks that he had unlawfully spurned and has the audacity to say "(he) would do it again". Wow!

    Mr. Bush, Mr. Tibbetts's "not on the kindest of mornings…" speech pales in comparison to this. Is this what your supporters call "leadership" – making rash, costly and foolish decisions in defiance of sound advice?           

    • Anonymous says:

      Our highly regarded Premier deliberately ignored the advice of the CTC, but he also deliberately didnt ask the advice of the Financial Secretary or his professional staff. There is only one explanation why he would not do this and we all know what that is. But I doubt the PAC will do anything except a couple of weak questions, set up Mac for a lengthly self justification muddy the waters and run down the clock rant, and leave it at that. The PAC is, of course, politically loaded in favour of our highly regarded Premier.

      Anyone got the phone number of the completely toothless in name only I dance rings around you and you will never catch me even though that wouldnt be at all difficult Anti Corruption Commission (chairman – Comm David Baines)? What a farce!

  32. Anonymous says:

    For sure, go everywhere else except stay home and answer tough questions to which he has no logical answers.