MLA full disclosure stalled

| 14/03/2014

(CNS): Although government has passed the Standards in Public Life Law, the full disclosure of members and senior civil servants interests’ and that of their families is still some time away. It is not yet clear how the public will get access to the new register, which will require much more information from politicians and, for the first time, senior civil servants. Currently, members of the public must make an appointment to see the register and are not allowed to make copies but can only take notes. CNS visited the Legislative Assembly this week to see the current list of MLAs’, in some cases extensive, business interests and land ownership and, for the first time, has posted the full details as they currently stand of serving members.

On our visit we found a fragmented, disorganised file that has not been updated since Nomination Day, almost twelve months ago. Members declare things in different ways and do not always make their interests very clear on the forms supplied, which are in most cases hand written submissions.

Wayne Panton, the chair of the Register of Interests Committee, told CNS that as the new law will hand responsibility to the Standards in Public life Commission, he had not called a meeting, though he had directed all members to update their register and ensure it was accurate.

He said, however, that he would look into the current register and ensure it was accurate and that its presentation to the public was improved until the new law’s regulations were complete and the function handed over to the commission.

Although the members' register may have reflected an accurate record of their business interests, property and land ownership, directorships and share holdings, the files are not easily accessible to the public, and despite the new law, it may not improve in the future unless the register is available via a web portal.

Deborah Bodden, a spokesperson for the current Standards in Public Life Commission, revealed that the new register that the commission will oversee may not necessarily be posted online as the law does not specifically provide for them to be made available on a website, only that they will be available to the public. However, nothing has yet been confirmed and the clock is ticking on the law’s requirement that each year all politicians and civil service heads make full disclosure within thirty days of 30 June.

Bodden said options were being explored for some kind of programme to create a searchable database so the public can look for specific details about their MLAs or senior public servants but there was no certainty yet about how the register would be accessible.
Bodden said last week that the regulations were not yet complete and so far, following the departure from the commission of Karin Thompson, who had overseen the long journey to the legislation, a new chair and other members had not yet been appointed.

With the public often suspicious about the motivations of politicians, the decisions they make and the policies they develop, the need to see who owns what and who has an interest in what is an important tool in the fight against corruption.

During the previous UDP administration there was considerable speculation about land owned by some government MLAs and their family members in areas related to projects approved by the government. In addition, business interests were also said to have been passed on to family or friends while they took up their seats in the LA, allowing them to avoid disclosure.

The recent controversies surrounding the potential extension of the east-west arterial road in order to support a proposed retirement community development and golf course in North Side has led to concerns about this administration and that some serving politicians' and civil servants' family members could stand to benefit from this extension and project.

A number of politicians and senior civil servants, including the premier, the planning minister and the former deputy governor, are all said to have family land interests connected to the road or the project.

At present, politicians are not required to reveal any details about the financial or business interests, land or property ownership of their spouse or other close family members, just their own business interests and property or land.

Currently there is no requirement even for the deputy governor, who sits in the LA, or any other civil service head to reveal their interests either. However, Samuel Bulgin, the attorney general, has filed a register stating that he had apartments in Florida, Jamaica and in Cayman, as well as land in North Side.

According to the register, as it currently stands the deputy premier has by far the most interests and property of members sitting on the government front bench.

Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell, who is also minister for tourism and district administration on the Sister Islands, has more than fourteen directorships in companies for which he has shares and receives financial payments, most of which are tourism or real estate related. He also owns more than two dozen parcels of land on Cayman Brac and three lots on Little Cayman.

Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts lists three business interests and several lots of land in Spotts, Savannah, Lower Valley, West Bay, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

Financeial Services Wayne Panton has a number of business interests, including investment and holding companies and property development, as well as Infinity Broadband, the owners of c3, the latest broadband and communication company to receive a license to supply internet TV. He also declares owning land in Savannah and rental properties.

Although Finance Minister Marco Archer declares no business interests, he declares holding land in North Side, Breakers, Spotts and West Bay, while Health Minister Osbourne Bodden declares his gas station in Bodden Town, a George Town shop as well as land and property in his constituency and the Sister Islands. Tara Rivers declares interest in just one business and land in her constituency. Premier Alden McLaughlin declares his own legal practice and just one lot of land in Spotts.

See full details of the business, shares and land interests currently declared by all 18 members of the Legislative Assembly below.

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Category: Politics

Comments (38)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It's quite entertaining to watch the MLAs drag their feet and resist. There has been such a collective refusal to honor the letter or the spirit of the register of interests for years. It makes hypocrites of the lot of them. As if we needed any more evidence.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The proposed legislation to require disclosure of the beneficial interest in Cayman companies will never be passed. I wonder why??.

    • Anonymous says:
       
       
    • And Another Ting says:

      Calling on the Government to come totally clean on al their directorships and all family assets whether owned directly or indirectly. Also, declare what properties and their location you have bought and sold, transferred, as , partners or through companies in the past 10 years. Let the public see your full net worth then and now.  

      This call to you is made in the name of full transparency and disclosure, or is that too much to ask for seeing that there are those besides yourself that you have beenordered to protect . And Another Ting.

      • Anonymous says:

        And come clean with all the construction businesses you all have interest in.

        From the begining of 2000 the local builders were pushed out of the construction business. 

  3. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone dug up what took place in the deal with the sale of the road in the area where Dirty Reid was located.  Check out and see what happened there if certain politicians did not purchase that piece of property knowing that come a few months the Government would be buying it back from them to make the road, and they had the opportunity to making a triple killing on the price.  Corruption corruption is stink on this Island.  What is this governor doing?

    • Anonymous says:

      And the previous owner was one and only, their big supporter whom they put on a particular board, everytime time they get in office.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I see Wayne Panton is a Director of Inifnity which is owned by the Hurleys !!   

  5. Ha ha says:

    I disclose that my Car Wash is only cleaning cars, ha ha. (Breaking bad..) Funny, how headline for major drug bust is above this article   We need to clean house!! Where is the FCU on fast food joints. (Empty ones on SMB?)  empty clothing shops, phone top ups, we need anti money laundering to be taken seriously Mr Baines

  6. Anonymous says:

    A little bird tells me that there is a need for a serious integrity register too. Persons pushing legislation and persons enforcing legislation shouldn't be as they say 'in cohoots'.

    • Anonymous says:

      In the mother country this would not be tolerated, There would be a comprehensive investigation on all parties.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The law passed on 31 Jan. 2014 states: "This Law shall come into force on such date as may be appointed by Order made by Cabinet and different dates may be appointed for different provisions of this Law and in relation to different matters." I note that your story says nothing about whether Cabinet has appointed a date, or dates, when the law will come into effect. In turn, i find it difficult to understand how you concluded that the register was 'stalled'.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Are Directorships required to be identified in the Register of Interests?  If so, why is it that only Moses and Wayne have named their Directorships.

     
    Also, do Ministers make an oath (or equivalent) that they have recorded ALL their interests?
     
    Ministers, please push the fast forward button towards FULL DISCLOSURE OF ALL PERSONAL AND FAMILY INTERESTS.   Please PPM, if you are serious about reducing corruption in government as I hope and believe you are, you need to get moving on this right away.
  9. Bhig Botteegal says:

    I think there's more chance of ET disclosure than politician transparency. Which one will come first? Thumbs up for ET, LOL for politicians.

  10. Anonymous says:

    So, pray do tell, why there is no requirement for the public servants to disclose their interests? Some of those people operate very politically – unelected politicians in their own right  – and bring more influence to bear on elected politicians than many would want to admit! Sam Bulgin is to be applauded for his honesty in doing so.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not to mention the many businesses these PS are running on the side, which is competing with the private sectors.

      Then one wonder why they cant pay health and pension. Many have to close shop, due to the afore mentioned.

  11. Anonymous says:

    "A number of politicians and senior civil servants, including the premier, the planning minister and the former deputy governor, are all said to have family land interests connected to the road or the project."

    This is completely outrageous. The Governor needs to step in at once and investigate these interests, as well as the Ironwood deal generally.

     

    • Juan Hu-Kancee says:

      Are you kidding? The Governor has a huge vote coming up and she will need Alden's (bought and paid for) support. Before the new Kimpton Hotel starts operating, there will need to be some fundamental changes to the law. Have a good look at the Kimpton website and you will see what I mean. No, Alden has been bought and paid for. He will now do as he is told.

      • Anonymous says:

        I can believe that Juan! you ever wonder why, when these development come to the Island the politicians are the only ones around the table in all aspect of the on going process.

        The main people, the builders and contractors are always left out.

        This only signify one thing. The latter are sold out.

         

  12. Anonymous says:

    Corruption takes various forms. The concept of conflict of interests doesn't exist in the minds of those who govern It is all about protecting self interests, family and using the position to feather they nest to secure a full pension from tax payers. Why hasn't this government stopped the double dipping if they really were about doing the right things? 

  13. Anonymous says:

    Cayman officials cannot afford for the truth to get out because they are all as bad as each other

  14. Anonymous says:

    Should an MLA/Minister have to declare his wife's property?  I listened to the talk show this morning insinuating that the property held by the wife and family members should have been declared.  What I own is not the property of my husband.  Very curious.

  15. Jembos Huti says:

    A well-know opposition MLA with a ******** background is on record as saying, "If you can't make a million dollars as an MLA, you never will."

    I rest my case.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Call me a skeptic but as I read down the list I found it difficult to believe it was complete.  Putting property and investments in the name of spouse's and immediate family is an old game that is still played.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Kurt and Alden have immidiate family owning land on the Ironwood proposal. Alden said I did not disclose because it belonged to my father — third world politicians rule!!

    • Anonymous says:

      If McKeeva Bush tried this B$ can you imagine the reaction? the way ppm have handled this entire thing is the problem. Its sad cause I had high hopes for this premier but it is clear Alden gots no shame and thinks we are fools as he continues with his arrogant ways. What is he  thinking when he says I was waiting for someone to ask me? Power corrupts absolutely what a disgraceful attitude.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree, because what I worked for and own personally, is not my husband's.  This is the problem when people go to get loans and they are forced to include husband or wife.  If I can secure an loan and meet the down payments, husband or wife should not be included.  What I work for is mine and mind alone, only if I choose to include another person, that should be my right.

      • Anonymous says:

        Tell that BS to the judge while getting a divorce

        • Anonymous says:

          That's why so many are walking found with their two long hands.  Marry someone and after they find out what they have, find an excuse for a divorce and clean them out. Heads should roll.

      • Anonymous says:

        If that is how you feel you shouldn't be or get married..

  18. Anonymous says:

    So no need to even mention family land holdings near to bypass extensions. No conflicts there.

    Come on……..

    • Anonymous says:

      Not if the persons you are referring to were not involved in the gazetting of the route of the road. Which incidentally they were not.

  19. Anonymous says:

    In most normal democracies, public and open disclosure of interests is a must. Those where it does not happen (Russia, Venezuela, North Korea etc), well, we know what they are. Draw your own conclusions, but mine is that this is very unhealthy and that politicans are the reason for it being unhealthy. One must question why.

    • Anonymous says:

      So the fact that you have to get up and make an effort to see the register makes it not open to the public in your mind? How lazy are we becoming as a people?