FOI hung on GLF payment

| 03/01/2013

(CNS): Documents that took almost one year to be released by the Port Authority reveal that keeping records relating to the termination of talks with GLF Construction over cruise berthing facilities under wraps formed part of the settlement agreement. According to the agreement, which has now been released by the authority, clause 6 required GLF to withdraw an FOI request for all the government notes, documents and minutes of meetings relating to the project and GLF made by the firm’s solicitors. A binder of information which was released to CNS last month shows the $2.5 million settlement paid for from the public purse was directly related to the former premier’s decision to terminate the talks.

Following the withdrawal of GLF’s freedom of information request in January last year, CNS immediately requested the same and additional information, which triggered what turned out to be the longest battle CNS has undertaken so far to gain access to any records. These records cover elements of the controversial termination of the negotiations between government and GLF construction regarding the cruise berthing project in George Town.

Since May of 2011, documents relating to the port project, which government authorities have been keen to keep secret, have gradually leaked into the public domain, but the latest batch of information which was finally released by the Port Authority last month shows just how keen the Cayman government and the authority was to keep the information away from the public eye.

Having placed clause 6 within the deal in which government agreed to pay GLF the $2.5 million to settle outside of court, it comes as no surprise that the authority then spent the last twelve months fighting not to release records relating to the entire fallout of the former premier’s decision.

The documents show that after McKeeva Bush’s move to terminate the framework agreement with GLF, the port and the Cayman government, the board members believed this was a breach of contract and had significant concerns about their own culpability in GLF’s claim. The minutes from the meetings also record that during one board meeting in June at which then premier Bush was present, the members apparently unanimously backed his decision to negotiate with China Harbour Engineering Company over the cruise project, only to change their minds at the next meeting, where he was not present, when they voted to return to talks with GLF.

The binder, which contains over 250 documents including emails, minutes of meetings and the settlement agreement, makes it clear that the settlement with GLF was as a direct result of Bush’s move in April 2011 to stop the GLF talks and move towards an agreement with CHEC. Bush then spent a further 18 months talking with the Chinese until those discussions were also terminated by the former premier following pressure from the UK over the need to follow international best procurement practices.

The records revealed to CNS contain just two emails between Bush and GLF’s solicitors, in which the premier makes allegations against the company over leaked documents and warns the lawyers that he would not be threatened or pushed into returning to talks with GLF and that the Cayman government was willing to defend its position.

The documents also show that the director of the Port Authority, Paul Hurlston, appears to have been kept completely out of the loop during the entire process. In correspondence with the premier’s chief of staff, Leonard Dilbert, Hurlston notes that he was “not privy to any discussions that may have taken place leadingup to the ultimate termination of GLF”, and the director writes that he was “in the dark” on the whole matter.

The released records track the developments regarding GLF from the point they were selected by the board following the breakdown of talks with DECCO, the company owned by Dart which was the first choice of the board.

The documents include reports, progress updates and the work undertaken by GLF, their request to move to a full agreement and then the sudden termination by the premier. They also record the concerns of the board about that decision, as well as the premier’s decision to remove some board members, while others stepped down. It shows when government began negotiations with GLF to make a financial settlement to avert court action and the continued struggle to try and stop documents being released, as well as the actual final settlement agreement.

However, the records reveal very little new insight into the premier’s decision to terminate the GLF talks and move to negotiations with China Harbour. While the decision cost the public $2.5 million, the motivation for the move remains elusive. While the premier claimed that GLF failed to demonstrate it had the financial ability to progress with the project, the documents reveal another story.

See ICO decision on the release of the documents below:

CNS would like to thank everyone who responded to our appeal for help and offer special thanks to the person now assisting with the scanning. We hope to be able to post the released documents next week.

 

Category: FOI

Comments (62)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What about the Ritz, why has it taken so long for Caymanians to realize he is in it ONLY for himself.  When the Ritz deal was completed, before MAs waived millions of dollars in stamp tax for the Ritz, Mac had Mike Ryan sign the agreement to give Cambridge Reality OWNED BY MAC a commission on every condo that sold at the Ritz. Seems so obvious.  Conflict of interests XXXX

    That not stopped and just kept going on

    • Anonymous says:

      Mac deferred duty for Mike Ryan. The PPM government had him paying it until the day of the 2009 election when Mac took back over and we never received another cent. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Accuse Mac of anything and he squeals like a Pig that the Governor and UK are out to get him…He and his followers are blind to Anti corruption laws.

    • Chris Johnson says:

      Every single response to this article is anonymous. Do readers have no balls to put their name to their articles. Bush has gone, he has no power and cannot do you any harm. Please people, stand up, be countered and put your names to your contributions. Otherwise, shut up.

      • John Evans says:

        Chris that's exactly why I no longer post on CNS.

        You put sensible comments on here and the trolls swarm around and try to rubbish it.

        What I would like to see is that anyone who puts up a legal (or more often pseudo-legal) argument on this website or claims to be in any way legally qualified is forced to identify themselves. That I believe would eliminate what looks like a lot of apparently authoritative but actually deliberately mis-leading comments being posted by people with vested interests in deceiving the public.

         

         

        • Anonymous says:

          Dear Chris & John,

          As soon as the UDP is no longer in power, people will feel free to post their names again.  Most people would like to keep their jobs, work permits, etc.  Remember Cayman is not big like the US.  I could say I don't like Obama what Obama is doing and it wouldn't matter because he doesn't know me.

          • #183936 says:

            18:32:  If you made comments online in the U.S. that critized the administration, or blogged using your own name, it's quite possible you could be determined to be a National Security threat. In which case law in the U.S. states you could be held indefinitely without trial. This was introduced by Presidente George Bush and recently renewed by Obama.

            As to Chris and John's statements: it's quite possible both have acquired status, or are beyond reach.  A quick check shows that  there are people everywhere who are not quite sure who's side their government is on. International news confirms this. It also shows the degrees to which governments and their military and police forces will go in order to protect their interests. That may not be quite the case in Cayman. However, government can be vindictive and when you live under a work permit system – THAT is your reality.  In the meantime Chris and John thank you for being so brave.

        • Anonymous says:

          My experience is that the only people who identify themselves on CNS have very limited credibility but what they lack in credibility they compensate for by overvaluing their own opinions.

      • The Rt. Hon. Anon. says:

        Don't be so naiive Chris. Of course Bush still wields significant influence on this Island, and can call upon various people to spoil someone's work permit, career, licence application and so on. You have status, are well set up financially, have no vulnerable dependents, and enjoy confrontational  roles having done so professonally for years. The rest of us can still get fu#&ed over relatively easily, Caymanians as well as expats.   

      • Anonymous says:

        That's fine for you to say, Chris, being independently wealthy with no need to rely on other's employment to make a living, pay rent, feed our kids etc.. Unfortunately though, the majority of us are not in such a fortunate position and the reality is, when living on a small island such as this, we need to be careful about who we offend with our views, whether Mac is in power or not.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Does someone need to make some kind of formal complaint to the Anti-Corruption Commission or the Commission on Standards in Public Life or the police to get somebody to do something????

    Should we assume that no one in any of those organisations reads???

  3. Anonymous says:

    I agree with all those wanting this information to go to the Auditor General and those responsible for anti-corruption investigations. In case any one is interested the Freedom of Information Law also makes it a criminal offence to try to conceal information that should be made available to the public.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone else find it fishy that the (first class no doubt) Venice trip taken by Mac and Mrs. Mac, Cline and Mrs. Glidden and Richard and Mrs. Parchment (seriously, W…T…H….) happened from March 25th to 29th and Mac's termination of the agreement with GLF happened just over two weeks later on April 14th? Makes you wonder exactly what was discussed in Venice.

  5. Anonymous says:

    And yet we wonder why crime has escalated? This sort of example nurtures criminal actions!

    Mac…and others involved (yes all those who endorsed him, either verbally or by being silent) must be made to PAY!…back monies wasted and earning potential lost…by way of crminal prosecution.

    Only then can we hope for terms like " Accountability, Transparency and Good Governance" to mean anything!

    The audacity of the former premier…and his supporters is truly astounding!

     

    • noname says:

      And yet……..Cayman continues to be a place where there is still no accountability.

      Ever.  Still wondering why?  Really?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I think the only question remaining is how much financial damage MAc and his UDP cronies managed to do to the country before they were stopped. I think stories like this will be surfacing for decades.

    PPM can't be any worse…..can they?

    • Anonymous says:

      That depends on what you call "financial damage". Would you call spending too much money on schools that should have been budgeted for starting 3 decades ago financial damage or not? How can you even try to compare that with pi$$ing away our money on first class travel for Mac and his cronies?

      Or subjecting us to lawsuits because Mac keeps changing his mind.

      Or maintaining the white elephant we call Boatswains Beach (not the old small turtle farm).

      Or the nation building slush fund.

      Or paving private parking lots on the Brac.

      Or the Cohen loan fiasco.

      Or the Boatswains Beach refinancing fiasco.

      Or the Hurricane Hilton……….

       

       

      • Anonymous says:

        Face facts.  This is how Caymanians do things now.  Hopefully your learning something of value here.  Please.

        • Anonymous says:

          You face facts, this Caymanian does not think that "This is how Caymanians do things now". You insult every one of us who does not think that corruption is OK. 

          Perhaps it's time for you to learn something of value here. Please. 

    • Anonymous says:

      VERY different….You can't point the finger of corruption to any one of them…!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    What is our new “different” Premier prepared to do about this? Lets inquire please

    • ummm says:

      Different? She hasnt even resigned from the PArty dude!

      • Anonymous says:

        Different? She hasn't even been ASKED to resign from the party either. That speaks volumes. 

        • Anonymous says:

          That's because she's the party's very last hope for power in the 'running' of our country.

    • Anonymous says:

      She can do nothing.

       

      Her government is a "lame duck" government that is enjoying the posh LA chairs until the next election. They have no mandate to do anything.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Is the Anti-Corruption Law still in effect in this country?????

  9. Anonymous says:

    Real estate consulting has cost this country dearly both in terms of money and in terms of our image.

  10. Anonymous says:

    My, how transparent?  How clean and pure?

  11. Anonymous says:

    The Auditor General needs to take a look at how much of the settlement was for breach of contract and how much was for something else. This is just wrong.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would also like to know how much this foolishness cost the country in total. The 2.5 million is just the settlement to GLF. We may also have to pay their legal costs on top of that. Add in our legal costs to Priestleys, Maples, Ritch & Connolly and the legal department and it cost us much more in dollars as well as the intangible damage to our reputation as a country. 

      Cabinet should be sued for all of this. 

  12. My piece of da Pie says:

    Yes we all know bout Babba Bushka dealings with CHEC and who the would be  benefactors may have been but the question begs since these were under the same UDP "Ambrella" no U in it. Who are or were the benefactors of the perfect GLF deal as it appears we have roll through several questionable deals with the port or are we going to rely on the good and honesty judgement of his lily white followers who simply want the best for Cayman and have now turn on their avaricious master cause he ate up all of the pie.

  13. Anonymous says:

    My question is – Does the Anti-Corruption Commission exist other than on paper????

  14. Anonymous says:

    CNS, Anyone can access the released documents if they visit the Port Authority of the Cayman ISlands web site. Please don't make it seem like you are soley in possession of the released documents.

    CNS: Yes, we were made aware of this last night but the link appears to be problematic and so we will also be posting the documents in the CNS Library.

  15. Anonymous says:

    If McKeeva re-invents himself after this (as anything other than a green iguana), I'll eat my hat.

  16. Anon says:

    Hmmm…..

    Leaves the big question of who benefitted.

    I know who suffered. All of GT cruise businesses. All of the out of work Caymanians of businesses forced to close. All of the driving public forced to pay increased fuel duties to off set the cost. Everyone with electricity generated by CUC. Everyone who buys groceries. All businesses faced with insane fee increases. All boat owners. All retailers. All landlords. All financial services firms. Anyone needing any ‘form’ from any Govt. Agency. Pretty much everyone who consumes anything on this rock.

    Seems the only ones who stood to benefit from the CHEC deal are CHEC, and a one other person.

    Hmmm……

  17. Anonymous says:

    Thank you CNS…if it were not for you we would have been kept COMPLETELY in the dark as to Mac's behind closed door dealings.

    • Anonymous says:

      I'll charge it to the Credit Card. Ha Ha Ha, it will be covered by taxpayers.

  18. Anonymous says:

    You mean he lied to all of us? Right to our faces?

    • Anonymous says:

      Remember, my hands are clean and my heart is pure, my bank accounts are fat and the country is broke.

    • Anonymous says:

      And behind our backs, and on both sides of us, and above us, and below us. 

  19. Anonymous says:

    How stupid can our government (and their legal advisers get).

    Knowing that the FOI was valid and the public's appetite for anythign around what at the very least looked an 'odd' situation, it was inevitabel that an FOI would release not only the docs the Govt was looking to have left unturned but also the fact that they were willing to make a payment to GLF conditional on GLFs help in making that happen. So now all we are not sure of is whether the GLF payment is damages or hush money…Sone bright spark adfising Govt shoudl surely have seen that coming when Clause 6 was being drafted.

     

    Paying to keep info quiet? Not a good look. "Clause6Gate" here we come!

  20. Anonymous says:

    What we need is a real estate consultants protection law that way there would be need for all these expensive efforts to keep the public in the dark.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Thank you CNS!!

    Is there any chance you could put that Clause 6 up as an attachment.

    If government money was used to suppress an FOI request so that somebody could keep something embarrasing out of the public domain then somebody needs to be visited at 7AM by the taxis with the flashing lights on top. 

  22. Anonymous says:

    OK then. If there is anyone who has a little time on their hands and nothing better to do, section 17 of the Anti-Corruption Law may be just the thing to pass the time.

    I wonder if anybody out there has a statutory duty to uphold the law and a little time on their hands.

     

  23. bear baiter says:

    Is anyone out there surprised?

  24. Anonymous says:

    "unanimously backed Bush’s decision to negotiate with China Harbour Engineering Company over the cruise project, only to change their minds at the next meeting, where he was not present, when they voted to return to talks with GLF".

    This is what happens when you have cowards with no integrity on boards. 

    • Anonymous says:

      They are men without balls.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is what you get when you stuff the boards with political appointments- they rubber stamp your stupidity, rather than give actual advice, input or thought

  25. Anonymous says:

    Is that CI or US  DOLLARS !

  26. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of Leonard Dilbert, the former premier's chief of staff, what job does he have now? Is he the chief of staff for Mrs O'Connor-Connolly? It seems unlikely, as he was only put in that post because it was Mr Bush he was serving XXXX. It's a non-position in actuality, given that Mr Bush had Richard Parchment plus Charles Glidden plus the Cabinet Secretary to "advise" him. We have done without a chief of staff position for countless years and never needed one. I suggest in these hard times we abolish it again and save the money.

  27. Adult fiction says:

    You know, for quite awhile people have described McKeeva Bush's administration as being very close to a dictatorship. While some others have disagreed with this statement, this recent FOI revelation on how the talks and negotiations took place should lay all that to rest. If this process, and Bush's other actions, don't describe the workings of a dictatorship, I don't know what does. No one should be under any illusions now that is how he sought to rule. What is more disturbing is why the people he tried to manhandle didn't make more of an attempt to stop him. Was it job security or apathy? And what about the legislature? How was his abuse of power allowed to go on for so long? It's understandable Bush misunderstood his role as Premier, because he has misunderstood most of what democracy is. Lord knows, most of Cayman has had to live through it. The question is.. where are the checks and balances that are supposed to be in place?

    Ask yourselves also what would have taken place if CNS had not pursued this and would these same people have remained silent.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Why were the talks terminated?

    Easy…

    What motivates Mac?

    No records?….zzzz what a surprise!

  29. Bald Eagle says:

    I have 2 questions:

    1. How is it, that Government can sign a legally binding agreement to keep the electorate in the dark, as part of a contract with an organisation which will receive public funding?

    2.If Mr Bush's decision to terminate the talks, can not be explained by him, then should he not be responsible for repaying the public purse the 2.5 million dollars that he wasted?…as far as i understand it, are Government Officials not accountable for their spending and actions?

    I think that Mr Bush, should be forced to explain under oath, in a court of law, why he made a unilateral decision to terminate the agreement and if he is unable to clarify, then he should be forced to return the 2.5 million dollars that belong to the people of the Cayman Islands .

    It is about time that accountability in Government meant something….come on Governor Taylor,you are supposed to protect us 

  30. Anonymous says:

    Come on all you lawyers (and wannabe lawyers) out there how many laws did that deal and the $2.5million settlement potentially break?

    Sounds like a payoff to me.

     

  31. Anonymous says:

    Can we the people bring a class action law suit against him to collect the 2.5 million plus damages and cost.s? I cannot comprehend how he would dare show his face in public after the way he throttled Cayman.  If he has any sliver of decency left he would slither away, far away and take all those who supported and still support him in his evil ways. Did the other Cabinent members know these facts- if so why did they not stop him.? Furthermore why did they not stop him in all of his mis-deeds to our beloved Cayman.  They are now trying to portray themselves as "lilly white" but we will never forget this.  They can all slither away with him now quietly or go screaming and hollering in May!! 

    • Anonymous says:

       The Bodden Town district (electorate) should not forget, who was pushing for the Dump to be moved to Bodden Town.  I smell a rat.  May is just around the corner to vote them out..

    • Anonymous says:

      If we start a class action we need to be tryng to recover a damn sight more than just the damage done by this deal, clean all the skeletons out of the closet and we'd have a lot more we could recover too.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mac andJuju and crew said they were going to get the money back – from sale of intellectual property -(pfffft! Hahaa) ahem! … Sorry, so yeah let’s ask the new Premier

      This is one of the many dubious deals that she and rest of UDP collectively endorsed McKeeva,so lets ask