Time to stop name calling

| 03/07/2012

As many people know, both my wife and I keep up with the news from Cayman. It was with considerable dismay that I read the story where Mr Bush called the current Auditor General a “hitman”. People with a long memory will remember him accusing me of the same thing.

As far as I can tell, Mr Swarbrick is doing a good job in a difficult position. He understands his job and is doing it to the best of his ability. Without a strong Auditor General, I fear that there would be no real accountability within government. For the premier to attack this Office and the current Auditor General is just politicking at its most base level. I hope that all Caymanians will join me in supporting the Auditor General’s Office and the current AG as he continues to fight for value for money and accountability.

I remember well when I was similarly attacked by Mr Bush with similar comments. At the time, I felt I couldn’t respond andI am sure that the present AG feels the same way. But as a private citizen now, I can say some things that need to be said.

Mr Swarbrick and his Office are not hitmen. Yes, they say things that are difficult on the government of the day but it is not personal. I am sure that people will remember that the Office was often critical of government when the present opposition was in power. In fact, they didn’t always like our reports then either. The simple truth is the Office of the Auditor General is not political but it does report when it finds areas of poor value for money or poor accountability.

The solution for politicians is quite simple. Stop allowing money to be spent without due regard for value for money (such as the Cohen financing and Turtle Farm) and stop allowing money to be wasted (Gasboy et al). I am sure that the AG will be happy to report good behaviour as well as bad. However, if you continue with such behaviour, I hope for the sake of the Cayman Islands that the AG will continue to report it.

One final point. The Premier stated that he plans to sue the AG. I can’t imagine what basis he would feels a lawsuit is warranted. As far as this poor accountant can tell, doing his job well is NOT the basis for a lawsuit! Rest assured that if Mr Bush wants to continue down such a treacherous path, I would be happy to come down to testify (at my own expense) for the current AG and his Office.

As always, I wish the people of the Cayman Islands prosperity and well wishes.

 

Dan Duguay was the auditor general of the Cayman Islands from February 2004 to May 2010.

Category: Viewpoint

Comments (35)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for continuing to care about Cayman and it's people Mr. Duguay. We will be relieved of the situation imminently, and the entire world will rejoice with us.

  2. Anonymous says:

    We imported foreigners to staff our police force in order to avoid the "small town" problem that comes from hiring locals as police officers. This has worked out pretty well.

     

    Now maybe we should look at importing foreigners to run the country to likewise eliminate the nepotism and corrpution that comes from using political power in corrupt ways to help friends and family at great expense and detriment to Cayman.

    .

    • Anonymous says:

      How can you say that importing foreigners to run the police force has worked out well? It certainly hasn't. They are as incompetent as ever.

  3. Anon says:

    I'm very pleased to see that the past AG is still keeping an eye on Cayman and offering support to the new AG, via the media.   As a concerned Caymanian, I say tell the truth Mr. AG.  As the old Caymanians use to say, "Truth – its what the good Lord loves to hear".

    If the Government does not like what the report says, then they should try doing their jobs better.  That way, the AG would not have to write a negative review of their work. 

    Mr. Bush why don't you ask Mr. Anglin what an auditor is supposed to do?  I'm sure he remembers as he worked for a major audit firm years ago.  I would suspect he must have written a few harsh comments in his day.

    Mr. Bush, I beg you to stop the rants.  As a Caymanian, I am insulted. They are not fitting. They insult the office you hold.  They make the entire Caymanian population look bad.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Corrupt individuals work outside the law where they cheat, lie, plant false evidence, intimidate, and run amok.

     

    Auditors work within the letter of the law and write their reports couched in diplomatic terms. In other words, their hands are often tied because they are the source of evidence, not legal prosecution.

     

    I salute the auditor generals for the honest hard work and their grace under fire.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Dan, thank you for taking the time to write this. Many people in Cayman remember your work and admire you for having the courage to speak up when you were here.

    I have a question for you. In your opinion, how bad is corruption in the Cayman Islands? I know you can't give a precise answer but where are we in general terms? Are we closer to Switzerland or closer to Nigeria?

    Thank you. I hope we see more written commentary from you in the future.

    • Anonymous says:

      As a Nigerian I am offended that you would liken Nigeria's corruption problems to those of Cayman.

      • Anonymous says:

        Haw haw.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well sorry for you…. Not that anyone is acusing you personally but Nigeria lets face it has serious enough corruption problems that is ranked 143 out of a possible 182 , number 1 being the best. 182 being the worst in the corruption scale.

        Maybe he should have used New Zealand and Somalia as examples they are after all one end of the scale to the other… My apologies to all the Somalians….. It's a fact Nigeria has major corruption issues, nothing wrong with his example at all.

    • Dan Duguay says:

      Wow that isn't an easy question and one I would have avoided entirely when I was in position. But it is one I will try to answer now. But remember that this is strictly my opinion based on my experience in Cayman and around the world Cayman is definitely not close to Switzerland. I wouldn't compare it to Nigeria either though. I believe there is corruption in the Caymans both at the smaller level and at the official level. Allow me to explain.

      Corruption at the smaller level are the "I will get you this advantage (or punish you) because I know you, like you or respect you. This are the things like letting your friends get through the Custom lines even though they have too much shopping done in the US, to hiring your friends to do the financing for the Turtle Farm even they have no expertise to do so. This happens all the time in Cayman and is to be expected to some extent because Cayman in many respects is a small town. That doesn't make it right but it is understandable. Another example are things like duty waivers etc. That I saw the other day. Maybe these are all legit but I suspect not!

      The other is suspected official corruption. The first case is Mr. Syed stealing money from UCCI. The second are the many things relating to officials such as the Turtle Farm financing, the affordable homes under the UDP, the Stan Thomas affair, the current controversy re the Cruise Ship dock, the Cohen financing etc. Some of these were under my watch and some are more recent but they have one common theme. They were poor or irrational decisions that made no sense unless there was a financial incentive for politicians to make such decisions.

      Do I believe that there is corruption? Yes. Can it be proven (or if there is a will to do something about it)? That is the big unknown. I heard many times during my tenure that we shouldn't explore an issue because it would cause embarrassment or that person has suffered enough. In either case, I was encouraged to either look away or soft pedal my recommendation. I refused to do either. I believethat the facts must be made available to the public. That is one of the roles of the AG. Punishment etc. Is for the legal system.

      Two examples come to mind. The first is the case of Mr. Syed. At the beginning of the investigation, I was advised by the Governor and the Board of Directors that I should tread carefully. No problem but people will recall the nonsense the Office took about attacking this fine man (sarcasm intended). Even now, no official result has happened with the case even though this individual probably costs the Islands $500,000!

      The second is Gasboy. I was vilified for saying that gas was being stolen and estimating the theft as being at least $500,000. Shooting the messenger seemed much preferable than fixing the system. Nothing much was done and the problem exists today. In fact, one of the co mentors stated that they took gas and that they were entitled to it because they hadn't got a pay increase. Corruption exists in Cayman as it does in any country in the world. It will only diminish when there is a will to vigorously investigate allegations and to punish transgressors.

      • Anonymous says:

        We are so grateful for this open and candid response Dan, and we can only wish that our government officials could be equally open and candid.  Thank you for everything you did, and continue to do for Cayman.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks, Dan. As a Caymanian I think that is fair and objective unlike some of the diatribes that we read on here against Cayman and Caymanians.  

      • Anonymous says:

        I was a senior civil servant who worked with Duguay and his wife after Ivan at the Fire Station and I can confirm that what he has said about Gasboy and his part in it is 100% correct. The perpetrators of fraud hated him and used the usual "he's an expat" card to try to silence him. A ring leader was allowed to retire to avoid investigation and accountability. That's the Caymanian way – transfer, retirement or promotion, providing you are a born Caymanian, of course.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yeah, I know of at least two instances of transfers due to misconduct and complaints.  One of which actually blocked me from getting the job when I was the most qualified candidate.  As it was my first time dealing with the government system, I didn't believe it when I heard on the street that this person was getting the job.  We hadn't even gone for interviews yet.

      • Anonymous1 says:

        "they were entitled to it because they hadn't got a pay increase" that sounds like me. I feel justified taking from government when they take from me using force and threats of prosecution. I feel justified when CUC is allowed to take from me and threaten to cut off my light. There is enough reasons to be a criminal. Do I call it corruption?  No. I call it being a terrorist because of what they have done. Welcome to Nigeria

  6. bear baiter says:

    To present, past and ALL Auditor Generals: Hang in there! We the tax paying people of the Cayman Islands are 100% plus behind each and every one of you!!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    You are one of the REAL Hero's of Cayman.  One Brave man against the whold Caymanian Government and a good portion of the people.  No way you could have won.  But that didn't stop you or even slow you down.  You have my respect and the respect of the "true" Non government funded Christians of Cayman.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Miss you Dan,

     

    It was a sad day for Cayman when you left.

     

    I agree that accounting properly for "value-for-money" is the best way we currently have to find corrupt practices in government. I would add that placing the control of the country's money in the hands of elected politicians is simply asking for trouble as we have clearly seen. Politicians should have to go through an independent non-political committee in order to justify the procurement of funds for their projects. For them to have the ultimate power of the purse is just wrong.

     

    • BORN FREE says:

      Thank you Dan, let the truth be told. I only wish we knew the whole truth, everything, as far as Mr. Bush is concerned, now that would be some interesting reading, but I'm sure Bush would not be happy, or free.

  9. We like the Auditor General! says:

    Mr. Duguay would be happy to know that  a "Team Swarbrick" t-shirt has been seen sported around town and by the same person who sported the "Team Duguay" shirt 🙂

    • Anonymous says:

      Back in March I saw someone drinking Jack and Coke in Rackams wearing an Operation Tempura Re-investigation Team polo shirt. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps someone should print these up big-scale, so we the public can air our support for the only ones who seem to be looking out for our finances… the Auditor General's office.  I'm damn sure I'd wear mines with pride!

    • Anonymous says:

      A word of warning to expats here on a work permit…..don't wear it.

       

      You will be off island in a heartbeat.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hey Dan, perhaps you can come back and assist this AG, as the amount of mess this Government is throwing out there, cannot compare to the mess he has created in there.  We need help big time.  Most of all we need the books audited from 2005- 2009, as the figures he has thrown out there does not compare to the figures given to the PPM.  Then the following year, he came up with a $25mio surplus.  Something is just not right with the figures.  The country and its people needs to hear and see the truth.  Thanks for all you have done for these Islands and perhaps will do in the future.

    • Dan Duguay says:

      I am always happy to help out anyway I can. In fact, it was much harder to leave the Cayman Islands than it was to not be the AG. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my job but it was really hard to leave a place my wife and I both thought as home

      As for the financial statements, please remember that an AG can only audit what is given to him or her. During the time I was there, the financial statements submitted were of very poor quality. From what I have read, that continues still. I think Mr. Swarbrick and his staff are doing a great job under very difficult conditions. I think they deserve all the support that we can give them.

  11. John Evans says:

    Having seen some of the abuse Mr Duguay had to put up with when he tried to audit Operations Tempura and Cealt in 2009 he certainly knows what he's talking about here.

    To quote a memo from one senior civil servant (now retired) to Mr Duguay in July 2009, "I must confess that each time I have read the report with the intention of commentating, it has so annoyed me that I felt it best not to do so in the mood that it generated."

    At the end of the reply there was a further attack, "I fail to see how it will make any positive contribution to overall better understanding by the public of why these funds have been spent."

    In fact what the audit showed was widespread abuse of public funds on two police operations that have never produced any tangible results and that the person who made those quotes was effectively running the whole thing on a 'blank cheque' basis with no financial constraints.

    Following on from that, the FOI releases made to me in the both the UK and the Cayman Islands over the past 18 months have also produced material suggesting that Mr Duguay's attempts to uncover just how much money had been handed out, why it had and to whom were substantially compromised by misinformation from official sources. Had the full truth been released I believe that not only would what was by then referred to as Operation Cealt have been terminated but criminal charges might have been considered (in fact they still could be) against some of those involved.

    The value of Mr Duguay's Tempura/Cealt audit cannot be underestimated. Three years on the material, in both the published and unpublished versions, is still being used as the basis for investigations into what really happened (and 'watch this space' for more on that shortly) during the two operations.

    In some ways Mr Duguay's determination to push on with the Tempura/Cealt audit was a watershed in terms of government accountability because it revealed the extent to which CIG was willing to interfere with the auditing process. At that point it was made perfectly clear that the LA and civil service regarded the AG as a messenger who was only allowed to bring good news and even then only with their consent, anything else they didn't want to know about.

    In a free and open society that was a completely unacceptable situation and the fact that it was being effectively condoned by the Governor at the time was very disturbing. That fact that many elements of this attitude still appear in comments made about the current AG raises questions about how much, if anything, has changed since Duncan Taylor took over.

    Hopefully, Alastair Swarbrick's team will soon find space in their busy schedule to re-visit and complete the Tempura/Cealt audit – this time without official interference and using some of the material recently uncovered. If they do I can assure you that the results will be very interesting.

     

     

      

  12. Anonymous says:

    imagine if we had somebody with Dan Dugay's intelligence, qualifications and integrity as premier….

    • Anonymous says:

      Or Alistair.  Our finances could finally be back in order and Cayman could finally rise again.

  13. Roger Corbin says:

    Anyone who has been subject to the audit process, be it by internal or external or auditor general, will know it is not their job to win a popularity contest. If an auditor is well liked by the people in the entity being audited it is probably because the job is not being preformed correctly.  No one likes to have their mistakes highlighted.

    Being subject to an audit is probably the least enjoyable part of anyone's job when that job involves any fiscal responsibility. Most people welcome an audit as it confirms that there is no obvious mismanagement of the funds and much can be learned by constructive criticism.

    It is rare for an auditor to be fired for being diligent but is common to find senior employees, particularly those who have responsibility to keeping the books, dismissed for being too casual in their oversight of the assets of an organisation.

    The fact that Mr Dugay or Mr Swarbrick are constantly being subjected to severe criticism should give the people of the Cayman Isands a lot of comfort as it is their assets which are being protected.

    • Dr. Moody says:

      The Premier is only being himself.  He is nothing  but a big ole bully. When things don't go his way he starts with his song and dance of suing someone.  XXXX  He is an embarrassment to the entire island- but don't remember this :Time is longer than rope" I WISH HE WOULD JUST GO AWAY-FAR FAR AWAY!!

      • Anonymous says:

        The bully tactics seems to be the order of the day with that gang … and their advisors/croonies whoseem to throw out threats of law suits against the Auditor General and other civil servants who are merely doing their jobs in weeding out and exposing corruption!  C'est la vie! …  in the Cayman Islands nowadays, unfortunately!

    • John Evans says:

      So true. That sums the situation up perfectly.

      As a civil servant in the UK my work was subjected to regular audits and the last thing I wanted to see were comments on my files (no computers back then) in the dreaded 'green ink' but after the examination if the comments were few (they never left without finding fault but we accepted that – no one's perfect) and only picked up minor oversights it was regarded as verification that we were doing a good job.

      On the odd occasions something serious was turned up how you dealt with it was a measure of your abilities in the job.

      The material from the Tempura/Cealt audit raises serious questions about the dictatorial mentality of some of the people in charge at the time. Their attitude toDan Duguay was, "Who are you to question what I have been doing even if it did break all the rules?" and I don't think things have changed much since.

      There is a simple answer to this. Our civil service audit team was not on the local office staff, they answered to our regional office. Why not do the same in the Cayman islands? Make the AG directly responsible to the appropriate minister in the FCO?

    • Chris Johnson says:

      Nicely summarized Roger. However you are wrong about being fired for being too diligent. My firm was fired from Inter Bank owned by the famous Jean Doucet, Bank Intercontinental managed by the former Inspector of Banks and more recently First Cayman Bank and Gulf Bank where you know who was involved. Guess what? All went into liquidation very soon afterwards. I guess my firm was too diligent. At the same time the regularity authorities fell down on the job. When auditors are fired then that is a red flag unless of course their bills are too high. Conversely do not choose cheap auditors as you get what you pay for.
      Having said that they are not hitmen but hardmen. Perhaps Mr Bush was misquoted.
      I have always felt that Cayman has had good Auditor Generals having worked with three prior to the last two being appointed. Having having read the reports of Mr Duguay and Mr Swarbrick I find them meaningful and well presented. At the same time the content is very disturbing indeed. Good luck Mr Swarbrick, your fellow professionals are behind you.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Dan, you da man!