FCU must be non-political

| 20/08/2008

(CNS): The lack of resolution on various Financial Crimes Unit (FCU) investigations cannot be influenced by political pressure or interests, Acting Police Commissioner David George said yesterday. “The dynamic and speed of these investigations cannot be determined by politicians,” he said, adding that there could be no political influence over police investigations even if they were connected to political administrations.

Referring to a number of investigations initiated by various reports from the Auditor General’s office, including concerns over the financing of the Turtle Farm and the Affordable Housing Initiative, as well as the more recent irregularities surrounding the former President of the UCCI, Hassan Syed, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) Commissioner said that, regardless of the pressure the FCU might be under to bring these investigations to an end, they could not be influenced by politics.

“We can understand public concern surrounding these enquiries but it is vitally important that we disassociate the political process and that there is clear blue water between the police investigation and the politics of some of these investigations,” said George, adding that the FCU faced unique obstacles during its complex and intricate investigations.

Speaking at an informal media meeting with members of the local press at RCIPS headquarters on Tuesday, 19 August, George explained that officers within the FCU face particular pressures that were exasperated by the nature of their investigations.

“The FCU deals with long-term investigations and due to the nature of the crimes they are investigating they often involve liaison with and working in conjunction with a lot of other agencies, be it the Auditor General’s office or other accountancy firms that have been engaged to help look into the detailed financial information,” George said.

He explained that in some cases the investigations involve gathering evidence from overseas and that the FCU has to seek expert advice from senior council, often in the United Kingdom, to ensure that every base has been covered in these very specialist enquiries. “These investigations test the abilities of a small service such as ours which is why they seem to take so much time,” he added.

However, the Commissioner said he was well aware of the public pressure and the need to resolve these crimes and assured the public that they were all being addressed by the unit. “These are not investigations that we file in a draw and get them out when we haven’t got anything else to do,” he said, adding that the service had every intention of dealing with all of the investigations expeditiously.

The investigation regarding the financing of the Turtle Farm is, according to the Police Liaison officer Deborah Denis, still with the legal department and she said no ruling has yet been made. The Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush, however, stated in the Legislative Assembly recently that his previous administration had been cleared of any wrongdoing regarding that issue.

The Commissioner also said that he did not believe that the individual recently arrested regarding the investigation of the local hedge fund collapse (Grand Island fund) had left the island as had been suggested, as it was part of the conditions surrounding his release on bail that he did not leave Cayman.

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