Dynamite request in question

| 14/05/2012

rr21 (252x300).jpgCNS): As pressure mounts around the premier to step aside while he remains the subject of three police investigations, a memo he sent to the collector of customs requesting the release of a shipment of dynamite has raised questions over whether or not it is a request or a direction. Although McKeeva Bush has claimed that the letter was nothing more than an effort to see if he could assist a friend, it forms part of one of the three police investigations into Bush. The opposition says that, coming from the premier, such a request could be interpreted as abuse of office as it reads more like a demand than a request.

Bush sent the memo to Collector of Customs Carlon Powery after receiving a request from the importer to assist in releasing a shipment of dynamite which was imported without the necessary licensing. A minister of finance, the premier also has responsibility for the customs department, and Powery therefore answers directly to Bush. 

Despite the dangerous materials involved, the importers appear to consider their failure to secure the proper license as merely an oversight which the premier could resolve for them. In a letter to the premier, Suresh Prasad, the director of Midlands Acres (the importers of the explosives) tells Bush that although the quarrying firm normally uses Precision Drilling to do their blasting, they decided to by-pass the firm for a large job they had secured. As a result, the firm failed to clear the importation of the explosives with the National Roads Authority (NRA) and just went ahead and shipped in the dangerous materials.

In the letter dated Sunday 4 March, Prasad points to the investment and jobs that may be lost as he asks the premier to consider the problem and offer assistance.

On 7 March Bush sent a short memo to the collector of customs, copied to the director of the NRA, asking him to release the shipment, which was reportedly 32 tonnes of dynamite, and for his “request to be expedited” because the company was “desperately in need”.

Ezzard Miller has stated that, given the style and personality of the premier as well as the language used and the culture created by the premier in his ministry, the civil servant would have been in no doubt that this was more than a request for them to consider but a demand. Miller said the request was “equivalent to an order” and added that even if it was to be considered merely as a request and not a demand, it was a request to ask a senior civil servant to break the law.

“The premier has in fact given a written, what he calls a request, but we all know given the modus operandi, the personality, the culture and the character of the premier, the request is equivalent to an order to a department head to consider breaking the law,” he said, adding that this sort of thing should be dealt with via the administrative arm of government but if this was how Bush was running his portfolio then it was “very troubling”.

Bush has denied that his letter to Powery represented political interference and has described it as an effort to help a friend. “I have done nothing illegal,” the premier has stated on numerous occasions following the revelations that he is the subject of three separate police probes. He has accused the Cayman Islands governor and the bureaucrats in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of conspiring against him and the opposition leader of fuelling the flames in a bid for power.

See Bush’s memo and the letter of request sent to Bush by Suresh Prasad.

Category: Politics

Comments (49)

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  1. Just Commentin' says:

    The "request" versus "demand" debate is as moronic an exercise in semantics as ever I have read.

     

    A request is an instance of asking for something; a demand is simply a more imperative "request". In both instances action is expected. If you want to argue semantics, please bear in mind that the word "request" has its roots in the Latin "requaerere" meaning to require.

     

    The fact that the "request" was by way of an official memorandum on the Premier's letterhead gives quite an urgent and compelling undertone to the "request".

     

    The matter of "request" versus "demand" is hardly the crux of this matter – the debate clouds a deeper and much more serious issue: what is of importance here is that the Premier officially "requested" that the Customs department ignore the law and regulations and release a shipment of dangerous materials to people of undocumented experience, and friends of the Premier at that.  This is unacceptable use of influence.

     

    I should think a better debate would be whether the memo constituted undue influence and/or abuse of power. Whether or not what Bush did is or is not a crime should not be the acid test either. There are things that a person in power can do that are blatently wrong and such things should be construed as unacceptable by the people. It is high time that the Caymanian cease tolerating such unacceptable behaviour by politicians and demand (not request) that they be held accountable for their actions.

  2. Reality Check says:

    To me the real problem is that Mac used his position of power to get around the system, not to speed it up. 

    Customs was waiting for the NRA to review and approve the shipment.  If Mac had wanted to speed up the process in a more above-board manner he could have asked the NRA to expedite their report. (notice I did not say he could have asked the NRA to approve the shipment he shouls have stayed neutral and merely asked for a quick review).

    What he did here was essentially dictate to the customs officer what to do.  He was basically ordered to ignore the official process and release the shipment before the NRA had concluded its review.  The customs officer was bullied into breaking the rules.

    Makes you wonder if the NRA would have found a problem and not released the explosives right away.  Perhaps that was why Mac did the end around.

    • Anonymous says:

      Here is a reality check; the letter to Customs was also CC'd to the NRA and is merely a request.     

      • Far Canal says:

        Here's a another reality check, who owns or has a beneficial interest in Midland Acres?

  3. British Bulldog says:

    Let me get this straight, the premier of the Cayman islands doesn't think there's anything wrong in trying to "assist a  friend" by requesting that the head of customs releases goods which have been impounded, because he sympathises with the friend's desire to be able to get on with a project. That's off the scale by any measure.

    Mr.Governor, we clearly have a serious problem with good governance (see above for but one glaring example) and it's way past time you got off the fence and start acting in your capacity as the safe-guarder of good governance in this territory.

    (Oh, yes, I meant to mention, that the impounded goods are explosive materials is beside the point.)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Somone do a records search as to the ownership.

    You would be will suprised who the shareholders are for Midland acres.

    It's known who owns 50% but its the other shareholders that are interesting.

    • Anonymous says:

      Could CNS please find this out and publish who they are?  I no longer rely on Compass to do any investigative journalism – they just seem to repeat verbatim whatever is told to them or "leaked" to them and leave it at that.   The only media house that does any investigative journalism and whose journalists seem uncompromised and who keep up the pressure for transparent government (in my opinion anyway), is CNS, hands down. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    This islike someone being arrested for importing illegal drugs and having someone in authority "request" that they be given the drugs back.  The same excuse could even be applied, that the importer is going to lose money from it not making it to the streets.  Kind a sounds like someone attempting to pervert the course of justice.  Wow!

    • Anonymous says:

      No wonder the crime in this country is out of control – people live what they learn, and what they learn is this: – those at the top breaks the laws and regulations when it suits them to help their friends, colleagues, or family members, and seemingly get away with it because either Government or the UK is toothless in their enforcement of appropriate action when such laws are blatantly flouted.   Not until someone is held accountable, no matter what their position in life is,  or what station they hold, will the rest of us learn from that and avoid any flouting of laws and regulations that are there for our protection and security. 

  6. "Yes Sir" says:

    That's the most demanding "Request" that I have ever seen. It would send a chill down my back.

    "By way of this memorandom I request that the blasting materials for Midland Acres, which are currently being held by HM Customs, be released."

    Very firm and straught to the point, Doesn't leave very much room to refuse.

    XXXXX

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes … but.

      Now to stress there is a difference between what we all believe and what we can prove.

      All very well saying that 'knowing the character…etc..' this was an order, if the Police want to take this to court they need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was an order not a request.

      It would not take many english lecturers on the stand to provide a grain of doubt so whatever we may believe …let this one go …it has not sustainable legs as a case. Get busty prosecuting a case that you can prove.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Suresh Prasad is more than a friend to MAC. Please check Auditor General's report from 5 years ago. http://www.caycompass.com/cgi-bin/CFPnews.cgi?ID=1023418

    Based on these facts the Dynamite story is deeper than it seems.

    • Anonymous also says:

      Amazing how Mac's little group of friend keep showing up in questionable situations.

      • Not verified says:

        They and others can all be found together on the list of cabinet status recipients.

  8. Peter Milburn says:

    Regardless of whomever is in violation of importation of explosives it is an offence to do so.Not knowing the law is NOT an excuse.Anyone dealing in such stuff MUST and SHOULD know the rules of importation so let the blame fall where it should regardless of who that person might be.We are all subject to the same laws.

  9. Al Nomadi says:

    Why can explosives be loaded on a ship destined to the Cayman Islands without a permit from the government?

  10. Anonymous says:

    "Bush that although the quarrying firm normally uses Precision Drilling to do their blasting, they decided to by-pass the firm for a large job they had secured."

    The letter seems to imply that Precision Drilling is also owned by Prasad/ Midland. If that's true how can they say they had no understanding of how to import explosives? And why didn't Prasad use the blasting company in the first place?

    This whole thing stinks to high heaven.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Helping a friend is a good thing to do.

     

    However, in this case, it should have been done as a private citizen on plain paper, not on the Premier's letterhead.

  12. MEM says:

    Now I am not one to support some of the Premier's decisions, XXXXX. But in order to investigate this properly, Midland Acres should be made to put together their application as it would have/should have been submitted to the NRA and have the NRA review it as per its usual approval process for such importations and see whether or not Midland would have been approved or not. If they do pass, then I guess it's not too bad, if their is a reason that their application would have been declined then there is an obvious mess with this whole situation. Dynamite is extremely dangerous and their should be concern, but if Midland has the proper storage and trained staff to handle it then it would be almost okay, if they don't, well I guess the crap hit the fan.

  13. Anonymous Expat says:

    Ezzard, if it is a "demand" to save jobs, how wrong can you be???!!!  Here you guys have everything to say against the government, oppose every project, yet have not come with any SOLUTION as to how you would better the economy!  If the Premier is guilty then it is for this one thing:  TO BEND RULES TO EXPIDITE JOB CREATION!  This does not warrant a removal of the Premier!   You said, "we all know given the modus operandi, the personality, the culture and the character of the premier, the request is equivalent to an order to a department head to consider breaking the law," hence your whole aim Ezzard is to REMOVE the Premier based off an ASSUMPTION OF HOW HE IS LIKE!  MOREOVER TO MUSTER FOLLOWERS IN THIS REDICULOUS ENDEAVOR!!!

    • Anonymous1 says:

      3-1/2 years later…what jobs???

    • Dred says:

      I wonder if he would "BEND" the rules for the little people.

    • Dred says:

      Buddy, breaking the law is always wrong.

      I want to give you two examples….

      1) Business owner struggling much like the one that has posted on this blog. He is fighting to keep staff on payroll because the expensesare piling up. Would it be right for him to go hold up a bank? I mean it is all done to keep jobs right!!!!

      2) Politician cuts deal with wealthy investor for massive reduction in customs duties and secures contract to provide certain services for a company he owns in exchange for contruction of hotel. Nothing wrong with that right? Despite he is giving away the country money so he can make money BUT it created jobs so its all good right.

      Wrong is simply wrong. Breaking the law can not be justified otherwise it wouldn't be the law or the law should be amended.

      When you start bending the rules for some then you must do for all otherwise there is no equality in the system.

    • Robert Peel says:

      Acting in an official capacity to "bend" (i.e.break) any law with impunity is the road to disaster for any society,my friend. Because then you have a state of anarchy and the breakdown of law and order and chaos rules supreme. Not very nice at all when you take the time to consisder what the consequences of condoning a bit of "expiditing" truly are.

    • The Saint says:

       

      To Anonymous Expat:

      There's an old saying that goes:

      IF YOU SAY NOTHING PEOPLE "MAY" THINK YOU'RE A FOOL!

      BUT "OPEN YOUR MOUTH" AND "YOU'VE LEFT NO DOUBT!

    • Anonymous says:

      It is very funny to read your post.  If you are an ex-pat, what business is it of yours? McKeeva has been the premier of the Cayman Islands and up until the end of last month, I had to go into the supermarket and sort through the "Pick 5 for $19.99" meats in order to have a meat dish for my family to eat.  I have a child that has been struck down with Multiple Sclerosis and should have certain things in her diet to help her.  I cannot afford to purchase those things., because the sum total of money I get to buy food for her is $550.00 per month and the prices go up every month.  Those are the things McKeeva should be looking at, not how many perks he can give the rich on the islands.  They do not need them, they can buy them, we cannot. 

      • Anonymous says:

        I am not the original poster, I myself am an expat, but I have to tell you, I agree with you 100% – I don't know how Caymanians, or any ordinary expat on this island for that matter, who earn normal wages (excluding the wealthy expats or wealthy locals), how we can survive the rising costs of living.   And to know CUC rates are going up shortly too.  If this keeps up, more businesses will go under and more family members will become unemployed.  What this Government should be doing is focusing on ways to help the middle-class or poorer segments of society, and stimulate economic growth by driving down the costs – not by increasing costs as they did, not by giving perks to those wealthy developers who can more than afford to pay their fair share of duties, permits, etc. but who seem to get "concessions" that the rest of the businesses don't.  It seems the rich get all the help.   As for the rest of us – well, God help us. 

        • Anonymous says:

          Your comments are bang on. Govt. has actually increased the cost of electricity, running your car and the price of everything by increasing the duty on fuel to 75 cents per gal. This disproportionately affects poor people.

  14. EYE ON THE ISLAND says:

    This is what not have an education does to a person. I don't even think a member of the party has the backbone to tell this man that he is in deep, deep trouble and his statements has sunk what little ship he has afloat. He going to bring everyone of his supporters down into the Cayman trench and there is no return for any of them.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would be happy to assist.  Please meet me in the Four Season's hotel in Las Vegas by the ATM.

      Thanks

  15. Dear Mr Premier (from a real Caymanian Business) says:

    Dear Sir,

    Since the Financial crisis hit these islands, my small business has been unable to keep pace with the increasing cost of operating a company.

    We are now at a crossroads because we simply cannot afford to compete with the other big businesses who are receiving special favours from our government such as duty reductions, stamp duty reductions and lettesr from yourself asking the Customs department to ignore the laws of the land and allow items to be brought in without going through the proper channels or receiving the requisite permits.

    This month alone my company found it very difficult to pay salaries in addition to maintaining pension payments, and continue to provide a good  health insurance plan for our employees and continue to pay the excessively overpriced work permit fees we are subjected to.

    The work permit fees seem completely unfair as we pay more for a particular category of work permit than another company that is 10 times our size. This is because we are in a different industry and our "band" is more expensive.

    I wonder Mr Premier if you could possibly assist me in the same way you are assisting your "good Friends" by sending a letter to the Immigration department and asking them to waive my work permit fees for 12 months as my company needs a little break so that we can get back on our feet and hopefully we will ultimately survive. I would really appreciate any assistance you can offer me with this, as I may soon be out of business.

     

    Sincerely,

     

    An Honest Tax Paying Businessman.

     

     

     

  16. noname says:

    Isn't this guy Prasad the same fella who was involved in the Turtle Farm financing fiasco?

    • Anonymous says:

      Correct he and his buddy Mac shared a $600,000.00 commission for securing financing for the turtle farm deal.

      • Anonymous says:

        hmmm well does Mac have any financial interest (direct or through companies) in this company?

        • SKEPTICAL says:

          Absolutely correct. As the companies involved must be Ordinary Companies, details of the Beneficial Owners are a matter of Public Record and, on request, plus payment of the statutory fee, the Registered Office is required, under the Companies Law, to make available the Register of Members.

          • Also says:

            He is required to declare his interests in all Companies etc, if he didnt do that his election can also be challenged!

             

  17. WakeUpCayman says:

    Birds of a Featther Flock Together! It sure is amusing to read Suresh Prasad's sales pressure with his use of the old "holding up jobs and investment" tactic! He must have attended the same School of  B.S. as the Premier!

  18. Anonymous says:

    The Premier needs to understand that he is not a lawyer and cannot declare himself to have done nothing illegal just because it is his opinion.  It really does my head in when he says that.

    • Anonymous says:

      Obviously written by an arrogant lawyer who believes himself (or herself) to have godlike  powers miraculously bestowed on them at their law school graduation ceremony.

       

      If laws cannot be understood by anyone other than a lawyer, how can anyone be expected to abide by them? 

       

      By your own condescending logic, I would say only a judge or jury can determine whether a crime has been committed. 

       

      What use is a lawyer?

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree.  You have high blood pressure, your house is about to collapse and I'm here to do your tax returns.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am not the poster you are responding to but it seems to me that the poster makes a fair point. McKeeva might actually believe that he did not commit an offence but that does not make it so. It doesn't appear that the facts are in dispute so it is a question of interpreting the law. Legal training is definitely an advantage in that department.

        I find it curious though why he chose to say that rather than simply say he had done nothing wrong.    

        What use is a lawyer? Mckeeva would be well advised to get d*m good lawyer on this one or his goose is cooked.

        • Anonymous says:

          It's the bit about his believing he might not have commited an offence that worries me. Better that he did anyday!