Ethics committee close to finishing law

| 16/02/2011

(CNS): The Committee for Standards in Public Life (CSPL) is very close to finalising the law it requires in order to carry out its constitutional mandate. In the committee’s first report after it was established in accordance with the country’s 2009 constitution, the members noted that without a specific law in place it would be difficult for the CSPL to enforce those standards. Since then the CSPL has been working on the necessary legislation, which it says will enable it to fulfil its constitutional mandate when it comes to upholding ethical standards of politicians and public servants. The chair has also confirmed that the committee’s second report has been completed and will be given to the Legislative Assembly for tabling in the next session.

Despite not having its law in place yet, the chair, Karin Thompson, said the committee has still been meeting regularly and has also launched its website. The minutes of the five meetings the CSPL has held since last August, when it published its first report, are now on the site as well as other documentation relating to the committee.

As the committee develops its role it is expected to examine not just the potential conflicts of interest for political representatives but also civil servants. It will be looking at government contracts and tenders, and in the December meeting the committee raised the question of the composition of the Central Tenders Committee, suggesting that members should possess relevant professional qualifications.

The issue of government procurement in all countries is always an area of potential concern for ethics and anti-corruption committees. Given the questions that have been raised about Cayman’s tendering process and the circumvention of its recommendations by government in recent bids, the public will be turning to the CSPL to answer some of those questions.

The CSPL is separate and apart from the Anti-Corruption Commission, which was established well over one year ago under the chairmanship of the police commissioner. This commission, in contrast to the CSPL, appears not to have a website, has produced no report and is understood to have met on only three occasions last year. The commission was reportedly expected to engage in a training programme (more than one year after its formation) in either January or February of this year with the Attorney General’s Office to look at the legislation and the powers afforded the commission. It is also expected that at some point a public education campaign will be launched to explain what that commission will do.

It is not yet clear what spheres of local public life the Anti-Corruption Commission will examine but it is designed to assist in overseas cases of corruption when Cayman entities may be involved. Although it differs from the CSPL, there is likely to be some overlap in the local domain but again it is not yet clear how the public can report concerns to members about corruption and how those complaints will be handled.

Given that it is expected to examine corruption in law enforcement as well as the wider community, there is a clear conflict of interest created by the chair, which does not appear to have been addressed.

The commission was created in accordance with Cayman’s Anti-Corruption Law, which was passed in 2008 but came into effect in January 2010. It is not a constitutional commission but a law to bring Cayman in line with international standards and obligations.

In a release at the time the members were appointed, government officials said the body would be responsible for administering the law. It is supposed to consider and investigate any report of corruption, including any attempted offences or conspiracies to commit corruption.

It has the power via the Grand Court to order a freeze on a person’s bank account or property for up to 21 days if there is reasonable cause to believe that the person is involved in corruption.

Commission members can also request banks and other entities to release information needed in corruption investigations. It is not yet known if the commission has opened any investigations or received any allegations of corruption either locally or from overseas.

Aside from the police commissioner, members include the complaints commissioner; the auditor general; Sir Peter Allen, a former Chief Justice of Uganda; and former banker Leonard Ebanks.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I hope it contains a section that says no politicians may benefit directly, or indirectly from any acts which their role as politicians may require them to do, or not to do. No kick backs, no underhand deals, no deals through third parties.  We want honest politicians who cannot be bribed.  Any politician who becomes corrupt should spend a long time in jail.

  2. tim ridley says:

    The Police Commissioner is the ex officio chairman of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC). To be effective and credible, the ACC needs to be fully independent of Government. This it currently is not.

    Further, there is the question of funding the Commission so that it can have the necessary resources to do its job. Funding is a matter for the Governor and the Cabinet to agree and to include in the annual budget of the Government.

    The fact that the UK has delayed the coming into force of the Bribery Act in the UK suggests that the FCO may not press the matter of the ACC right now. But there are international bodies that will consider the effectiveness of the ACC in their reviews of Cayman.

    Cayman has some, but not much leeway, to get the ACC up and running and to demonstrate its commitment to fighting corruption (both local and international). Otherwise, we risk being stuck behind the 8 ball yet again.

    • Anonymous says:


      however what is the point of making laws when the very laws are never applied and no action is ever taken. Only talk talk and more talk. The anti corruption law has been in place for over a year and the comission has not even had a meeting or has the law been applied.

      There has been known abuse of public office and corruption for years in the illegal buying of votes and the mis declaration of personal asset of public officials in the assembly and absolutely nothing has ever been done. Public offficials and politicians alike need to be charged, have all assets siezed and sent to Northward to send a clear message to future generations that corruption does not pay.

      All these laws satisfy the OECD and the EU however if they are never used or applied in practice it makes Cayman look like a joke.

      Concerned – Advocate against all corruption.

  3. Anonymous says:

    "Given that it is expected to examine corruption in law enforcement as well as the wider community, there is a clear conflict of interest created by the chair, which does not appear to have been addressed." CNS…what does this mean??? Did I miss something?


    CNS Note: The chair of the anti-corruption commission which may investigate corruption allegations against law enforcement agencies, including the police, is the police commissioner.

  4. Caymanian/Expat family- all one says:

     Please tell me that under the ethics rules, that we will be able to prosecute politicians who use government funds under the guise of ministries to attend mobile phone trade shows in Spain!!!

    My boss would have fired my a$$.

    • Anonymous says:

      What did you expect?

      The first piece of legislation introduced by JuJu upon the UDP taking office was an amendment to the existing legislation that allows people with NO knowledge or experience in the subject matter to be appointed to sit on various Boards.

  5. Anonymous says:

    another soon-come story…..zzzzz