Mac tells PAC he was right

| 24/10/2011

(CNS): The country’s premier made a long opening statement to the Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee on Friday and denied that there was anything wrong with the decisions he made regarding the Cohen and Co loan. Although the deal cost the public purse some $450,000, McKeeva Bush said he had acted in the best interests of the country and had done so lawfully under the Public Management and Finance law based on advice from the attorney general. He lashed out at the media, as well as criticising the former and current auditor generals and the financial secretary, and denied interfering with the CTC at any time.

During his address to the committee regarding the latest report from the auditor general that looked at the Cohen and Co loan deal as a case study, Bush said that for a long time he had concerns about how central tendering worked and agreed with some of the auditor general’s findings that it needed more expertise. He said he had wondered for some time if the CTC was able to deliver the best value for the country as a result of a lack of expertise and he queried why all the contracts always seem to go to just a few people.

But during the Cohen deal, he said, he did not have any direct contact with the Central Tendering Committee and had communicated directly with the Kenneth Jefferson, the financial secretary. He said he had acted on legal advice and as minister for finance according to the law he could secure loans for the public purse and it was his responsibility to get the best deal.

He told PAC that Peter Young, the UDP Treasurer, had approached him during a general council meeting and asked if he would like him to get Cohen and Co to put together a proposal for the $155 million loan that government needed and financing for Cayman Airways. Bush said he agreed but never had any further discussion with him after that.

“The report infers that he was my adviser,” Bush said about the auditor general’s report. “He was not my adviser, neither did he prepare any financial analysis on any loan for me, or known to me.”

Bush did not indicate and was never asked directly by any member of the PAC why it was that he opted to cancel the CTC process in favour of Cohen and Co, when the financial advisors in the ministry were advising against the move as they did not believe the firm would be able to deliver on the promised rate.

The premier did, however, point to criticisms of the financial secretary made in the press by the previous administration and noted that he was not obligated to take the advice from his officials and as minister of finance he had the power to make decisions about government loans.  When he was “told something" he wanted to be sure "it amounted to something,” he said, referring to advice and agreeing with the audit office’s report that expertise was needed in this field.

Explaining the events surrounding the Cohen deal, Bush said it was driven by a need to find financing for Cayman Airways. He said the UK would not allow the Cayman government to borrow any money on behalf of the airline so he felt government could use the loan as a way to leverage money for CAL. He said he wanted to make financing for the airline a condition of the getting government’s business.
“We were determined to assist Cayman Airways because they had $19 million in outstanding bills that they were unable to pay, and CAL is crucial to our tourism product, inter island travel,persons requiring medical assistance overseas and provides tremendous employment opportunities for Caymanians,” he said. “The loan financing, as initially advertised by the Finance Department, did not include CAL in their RFP’s.  There were many discussions with the financial secretary as to whether it could be added. Due to the critical need of funding for CAL and the advice given by the department that if we included CAL in the RFP it would have to be re-tendered and advertised in the papers. As minister of finance I made the decision that the awarding of the contracts not be carried out, to allow for a new RFP to be created, which would include the required funds for Cayman Airways, and that it be sent back out for bid,” Bush told the committee.

He said he was right to remain silent about the terms of the deal because of the sensitive negotiations and said the auditor general was “absolutely wrong” as he said he knew as a fact that he could not state the expected interest rates because of SEC rules.

“While I am no financial expert, had we been allowed to continue the negotiation with the bond offering, time has produced evidence that we could have obtained the rates that would have produced real savings for this country, much more than the $24 million that we were told by Cohen and Company that we would get,” Bush insisted. “The facts are that as of the decision of the Federal Reserve, as recorded on September 22, their rates were significantly reduced to 0.25%, almost 50% less than when we were forced to abandon the contract with Cohen and Company. That means that technically the country could’ve got 100% better deal!” Bush insisted.

Criticising the AG for the language of the report, he said he did not want to believe that his office had deliberately set out to damage people but “they need to use better wording,” he said. Bush said he did not appreciate the phraseology and thought that the country had gotten over that when “we got rid of the last cowboy”, referring to Dan Duguay, the former auditor general.

See the premier’s full statement to PAC below.

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Category: Politics

Comments (62)

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  1. Anon says:

    AND HE WAS write!!!

  2. Anon says:

    I think he fits the profile of Minister of Romance and not Finance.

  3. Ubelievedat says:

    sorry buddy-boy, your best aint good enough!!……..screw-up after screw-up….you just gotta go!!……..what will your careless and squarderous ability cost us next??

    "Although the deal cost the public purse some $450,000, McKeeva Bush said he had acted in the best interests of the country"

  4. Anonymous says:

    "While I'm no financial expert"  Then why are you Minister of Finance?  

    The other thing that I don't understand is that everything he becomes Minister of Tourism, he closes down DOT offices.  Why does he want to destroy the country?  Why don't he go to school and get a degree?  It's not hard.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mac went to school, and he got a degree.

      The problem is that  the school he went to was not one for getting degrees, and the degree he got was not one for schooling.

      Why would you expect him to do anything more when he is happy the way he is, and West Bayers keep electing him?

      • Anonymous says:

        We do prefer the schools Alden gave us and is going to finish for us come next elections four years later. We give Mac's school a minus E, but apparently it was quite a popular one nevertheless. Sad.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Humming, so are you saying Mr. Premier that it was Peter Young's idea to get this loan without going through this CTC? Or he merely set up the deal XXXX? also is Peter Young on the board of directors for CAL? Enquiring minds want to know.

  6. Forth Class Citizen says:

    How many times has this guy made bad decisions for the benefit of our country? The trick is to not allow him to make any decisions for our country by not renewing his ticket for reelection.

    Plain and simple. Can I get an amen on this?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Most grown ups would know that the Fed overnight lending rate went to 0.25% on Dec 16, 2008 and has remained unchanged since – predating the Cohen encounter by many years.  Even if rates had improved in the chronology that he suggests, most high schoolers could remind you that the Cayman Islands government would never be allowed to a Fed lending window.  Our sub-investment grade lending window is in a whole different part of town where you lock your doors and avoid eye contact.  In our reality, a 25 bpt improvement (if it were to be extended by a lender) would not be much savings on the 8-11% coupon payments that we would have to service on loan principal – and if the 25bpt improvement equates to $24million, then you can extrapolate that our negoiated loan would have been for more than $16.8 trillion, which somehow I doubt.     



  8. Anonymous says:

    Actually my question is why hasn't CNS reported on the cow cod trial ????


    CNS: Not much to report yet.We haven't forgotten, though.

    • Anonymous says:

      How do the Cow Cod trial blend into the incompetence and arrogance of this Cohen disaster? More smoke and mirros!

    • Anonymous says:

      The Cow Cod story is anatomically a bit more anterior. This story has more to do with what is directly under the tail.

    • Anonymous says:

      Soon come. Most of us still interested in the ongoing story about the part of the bull that is directly under the tail and what comes out of that bit of the bull's anatomy.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The PAC members are a total bunch of incompetents. They did not ask Mckeeva Bush any of the real questions that should have been asked ! Bunch of sissies that are too soft to deal with Mac. Here are but a few of the hard questions that should have been asked :

    1. What made McKeeva pick the phone to call Cohen and Co when he was in a New York Hotel room and ask them to make a proposal on Government financing ? (McKeeva said on public radio that he got the phone number out of the phone book in New York and that he didn't know anything about them before but he decided to call them) Really McKeeva ??

    2. How does McKeeva explain his statement that Peter Young didn't advise him on this deal when Peter Young got on Rooster Talk Show one morning and spoke for over 45 minutes on why this was such a great deal for government and that the Government was right to pursue it and that he had in fact discussed the matter with the Premier ?

    3. Why didn't McKeeva approach the two local banks that were recommended and that eventually ended up providing the financing to ask them to consider resubmitting their proposal instead of going to Cohen and Company, a company which he claims he had never heard of before and knew nothing about ?

    4. Does McKeeva understand the conflict of interest in Peter Young being involved in this deal and does he understand the provisions of the Anti Corruption Law ?

    Come on PAC members……..were you all sleeping ? Especially you Kurt, because you know you could have torn McKeeva to pieces over this issue !!!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    at least we now have him admitting that he 'got rid of the last cowboy'….

    on this statement alone, the governor should dissolve the LA asap……..

  11. Anonymous says:

    So, if a child is caught with his hands in a cookie jar, when he was told no he could not have a cookie, does that justy his means when he said, he was looking for the best cookie to eat, would he be right to disobey?  Mac please face the facts, you were not right doing what you did and personally I hope PAC makes you pay back that $450,000 out of your own pocket.  You has caused Cayman to lose too much money in these one man decisions.  You must take the right route, when cutting a deal with the country's money.

  12. Anonymous says:

    "The premier did, however, point to criticisms of the financial secretary made in the press by the previous administration".

    Is the Premier now reversing himself to say that the PPM was correct in saying they had indeed relied upon the FS's advice, or is this a convenient tactic when faced with a PPM PAC Chairman?  

  13. Anonymous9 says:

    To quote from Bush above, “While I am no financial expert… "

    We need to be voting in experts. Why is he heading up the Ministry of Finance when he has no knowledge in the field??

    You can't look after the best interests of anyone if you are not educated in the field in which you are in charge of.

    Cayman why are you voting uneducated people in to run your country? Because they are popular? Because they are your 3rd cousin once removed? Because they throw a good party?

    Think about this the next time you have the opportunity to affect your country's fate.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Seriously people, the man ignores CTC who get great financial advice from people who really know what they are talking about. He keeps saying he didn't influence CTC or the advisory panel but he neglects to mention that he bypassed the legal process and set aside their decision and gave the business to Cohen. He has the gall to talk about the last administration spending money on infrastructure that we all now get to enjoy whilst he wastes it on deals that are never completed and flies around the world first class with our money….. off to China next, that will be a $10000 per ticket deal for him and each of his entourage.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Thank you 12.22 for saying that. Better yet I love CA and would like to see it stay. How about privatizing it? It would help also if they got a 50 seater jet for shorter routes and charters.  

    • Empty Chair says:

      DUH!! In a dictators mind he is always right! Although shocking there is nothing surprising here.

  16. Anonymous says:

    "Explaining the events surrounding the Cohen deal, Bush said it was driven by a need to find financing for Cayman Airways. He said the UK would not allow the Cayman government to borrow any money on behalf of the airline".

    Let me get this right, this is an admission to the world by Bush that he was deliberately flouting the UK's requirements with the Cohen loan deal? 

  17. Anon says:

    He is only human guys! AND he has feelings!

    • Anonymous says:

      Please don't tell him how those Cohen folks are laughing their a_ _es off.

    • Stiffed-Necked Fool says:

      All of us are Humans and we have feelings too, and trust me, he is hurting them real bad!

    • Anonymous says:

      The old Caymanian folks have a saying that, if you spit in the sky, it will fall in your face. Our good bible puts ii in several more graceful ways but it is still true. Mackie is a big time man of God. He should know about these things.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Seriously, what does the LA and the Speaker do when the nation's Finance Minister starts a sentence with, "I am no financial expert".  Through his actions and by his own admission he is unfit to be even the administrative secretary to that post.  Yet, we hear complicit silence from all that are sworn to defend and uphold the voter's interests.  You can't make this stuff up.


  19. R.U. Kidden says:

    The premier stated, "While I am no financial expert……….."  This appears to be true,  Well, it was only $450,000, so ""doan worry, be happy"….. everybody just keep on singing and dancing as we keep struggling to pay our bills.

  20. A says:

    "We were determined to assist Cayman Airways because they had $19 million in outstanding bills that they were unable to pay, and CAL is crucial to our tourism product, inter island travel, persons requiring medical assistance overseas and provides tremendous employment opportunities for Caymanians,” he said.

    As Minister of Finance you should know that this basically means that the Airline is not profitable. How can a company offer "tremendous employment opportunities" if it cannot even afford to pay its bill?

    Get red of Cayman Airways and open up the "tourism product" to competition from other airlines. It is way too expensive tio travel to and from Cayman. Make the flights cheaper and we you may see an influx of people visiting these Islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      Basically, CAL has been mis-managed from the top down.

      This is the same company that let one customer run up over $250K in unpaid air freight bills before deciding to pull the plug on them then let that same customer start using their services again long before the original debt was cleared and that example is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

      It's all about generating cash flow to ensure liquidity – not borrowing to pay off debts that should never have been incurred in first place, pouring money you don't have into routes that will never pay or trying to compete with major US carriers on routes that are already over-subscribed!

  21. Anonymous says:

    I finally agree with McKeeva, it is an amazing day!

    "“While I am no financial expert…"

  22. Anonymous says:

    This would be hilarious if it were not so tragic for the country. The Premier acknowledges that he is "no financial expert", says that Mr. Young did not act his financial adviser and did not prepare any financial analysis of the loan for him, and evidently did not accept the advice from the financialexperts in govt. (in fact he makes a point of saying that he was not obliged to accept their advice). That being the case, on what basis did he conclude that these actions were "in the best interests of the country"? The hubris of this statement is simply stunning.  Even if we accept his claim of having good intentions that cannot transform his egregious conduct into something in the best interests of the country. Mr. Premier, if you were the CEO of a company you would probably be sued for breach of your duties and removed from office.    

    • Anonymous says:

      "Even if we accept his claim of having good intentions…"


      The road to hell is paved with good intentions.


      Hmmmm, isn't hell in West Bay? (sorry, couldn't resist that one).

  23. Anonymous says:

    Since everyone knew what this man was about before he was elected then it's fair to say that there are thousands just like him who voted for him including his 9 confederates who elevated him to the position of Premier.  God help us.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone ever done an analysis to see exactly how many tourists fly CAL?  I know some do, but the big defense for CAL is always "they are necessary for our toursim product".  Shouldn't we do some analysis on this and see how true this is?

    • Anonymous says:

      Lufthansa Consulting poured over all the waste, and submitted the findings from the audit along with recommendations to bring it closer to break even…those consultants were thanked for their work and summarily dismissed.  There is no political will to do what is obvious and necessary.  Former Cayman Airways guy now at Turtle Farm and the game goes on.  Gov't subsidy on the Turtle Farm alone is >CI$10mln/year…where does it all go?   

  25. Anonymous says:

    Our XXXXX Minister of Finance is openly claiming "I am no financial expert". How, then, can he fathom that it would be better to bypass the CTC whose technical advisors and members have or have access to financial expertise???

  26. Anonymous says:

    Do we need any more proof that Mac is meddling and intimidating public officials such as the Auditor General when he openly claims "we got rid of the last cowboy”?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, that was quite an achievement, "we". Fortunately for the rest of "we" it looks like we got an even better one as a result. 

  27. Anonymous says:

    I am disappointed that the opposition members did not do their homework and take the opportunity to find out why public money was wasted. It seems that the adage to the effect that, "BS can baffle what brains there are" may be an accurate view of what happens at the LA.

    The use of a "best defensive strategy is a frankly offensive one" seems to have worked once again.

    • Anonymous says:

      This article is simply about the Premier's opening statement to the PAC. It does not tell us what he was asked thereafter.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Has Mac ever been wrong?

  29. Taxidermist says:

    'While I am no financial expert'  says it all. Then why is he Minister of Finance. Beam me up.

    He calls Mr Duguay a Cowboy and reprimands the current AG for his phraseology. XXX

    • Anonymous says:

      You don't become king of the castle by being stupid.


      A lot of voters actually like the guy.


      Go figure….

  30. Anonymous says:

    EVery time we think/ say McKeeva has lost the plot and is hopelessly out of his depth, he surprises and reaffirms this time and again.

    Whoever heard of a unqualified Minister of Finance whoadmits "While I am no financial expert…had we been allowed to continue the negotiation with the bond offering, time has produced evidence that we could have obtained the rates that would have produced real savings for this country, much more than the $24 million that we were told by Cohen and Company that we would get,” Bush insisted."

    You cannot INSIST on anything here, much less being right, this is a matter on which you are admittedly unqualified and out of your league, yet you persist in trying to do this job by taking advice of people OTHER than those more legitimately qualified than you!!

    The Perfect Fool!

  31. Anonymous says:

    OK. Right. It cost us $450,000.00 but it was in the best interests of the country. "I am no financial expert" so I'm really not sure exactly why the hell they are calling me the minister of finance, but one thing I can say is I was right about the Cohen deal that cost my country $450,000.00. And apparently I STILL don't understand this was not exactly 'the best deal' for my country. And those cowboys, why the hell do they keep bringing in those party pooping cowboys? 'We got rid of the last cowboy" but frankly I'm a little scared of this one. He seems to know his ropes even better than the last cowboy. Maybe 'we' shouldn't have got rid of that last cowboy. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I guess $450,000 is small change… a piss in the pond of all thats been wasted

  32. Anonymous says:

    There's only one cowboy here. Always quick on the draw, shooting from the hip and disappearing frequently into the sunset.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Bush is obviously working on the policy that the best form of defence is attack.  I trust the members of the PAC are strong enough to ask Mr Bush the approriate pointed questions necessary to put this issue to bed once and for all.

  34. Dred says:

    Aaahhh yeah….what he said.

    What a pile of bull. Not even good bull because you could burn that and keep away mosquitos but this politicized bull ain't good for nothing and give you a headache when you try to think about it. Makes you even dumber trying to rationalize it.

    I believe everytime I listen to one of his speeches I loose IQ points and people I don't have enough of those already.


  35. anonymous says:

    Well as I understand it it takes Cowboy to tame a Bull. But never your fault is it. $450,000 buckaroos now gone but we was broke. Explain us that one Mac & Baloney ? And what about your language on TV, to the press, to us We the People and God know's how many more you are bullying on a daily basis ?

  36. Chris Johnson says:

    If Dan Duguay was a cowboy then our beloved Premier is a bandit. He needs to choose his words more carefully. Outside of the LA he would have had a lawsuit. Typical of the man.
    Whilst I did not know Mr Duguay well I know enough to know that he was good at his job. He was fearless which goes with the job and took no prisoners. He is highly respected as a qualified accountant and took his job seriously.

    Mr Duguay I apologize on behalf of the people of the Cayman Islands for Mr Bush’ s insulting remarks, and thank you for the outstanding job that you did. Most of us appreciated it.

    • Knot S Smart says:

      Thanks Mr Johnson!

      I for one am glad that you are contributing your views to this forum!

    • Anonymous says:

      My heros have always been cowboys, and they still are it seems.

    • The Realist says:

      Thank you Chris, I could not have said it any better especially that its coming from an Accountant. I love your posts, keep them coming.

  37. Anonymous says:

    "While I am no financial expert"  – Minister of FINANCE!  Says it all about our premier.