Answers sought on loan deal

| 12/09/2011

(CNS): The opposition leader continued to press the premier over the failed Cohen and Co loan in the Legislative Assemblylast week when he demanded to know what had motivated government to choose such an unorthodox route to get government financing. Following the revelations by the auditor general that the failed decision by the premier, against ministry advice, had cost the public purse almost a half million, Alden McLaughlin pushed for an explanation. During last Wednesday’s marathon parliamentary session he said he couldn’t think of anything that illustrated why there should be no confidence in government more than what happened over the Cohen deal.

“I don’t know what else provides more evidence of the cavalier attitude and the disregard for the rules, law, procedure and fairness than the Cohen deal fiasco,” he said about government’s proposed deal to go to Cohen and Co to secure public finance borrowing of $155 million, circumventing the central tendering process (see auditor general’s report).

Although the deal fell through and government turned to a conglomerate of high street banks in the end, as recommended by CTC and the ministry, this was not before the New York firm had organised two short term bridging loans which ended up costing $450 thousand more they would have done had the premier followed the advise of the ministry and the CTC.

Originally, McKeeva Bush had told the country in a national broadcast that he was circumventing the CTC process in order to save the country millions and millions of dollars. However, no savings were ever realised.

“Much of what the premier said about the Cohen loan simply wasn’t true,” the opposition leader emphasised as he asked why government had chosen the Cohen route and why that financial agent had been given preferential treatment. He said the premier needed to explain to the country what was so attractive about Cohen, an institution that would not normally arrange financing deals for government.

“What persuaded the premier to throw the rule book out of the window in favour of Cohen?” McLaughlin said. “What he told the country last year was not true,” he added. “There were no savings, no deal for Cayman Airways and there was nothing that gave Cohen any level of attractiveness over the other bids,” he said emphasising the mystery as to why the firm was chosen.

He said he could not understand how the ranks of the United Democratic Party could remain unfazed when the catalogue of errors and problems with the Cohen arrangement were revealed as he said it should have shaken the confidence of every government member. “This can only be described as a misrepresentation to the country and the rest of the government members about the nature of the arrangement and the promises of what Cohen could do,” McLaughlin added.

Although the premier failed to address the questions raised by McLaughlin in his response to the opposition leader’s motion, before the debate began a question filed by McLaughlin many months ago about the loan deal was eventually accepted by government and posed on the floor of the Legislative Assembly by the opposition leader.

At that point, he outlined the broad details of the bridging loans that Cohen had arranged but said everything about the loan was a matter for public record in the auditor general’s report. In response to supplementary questions, Bush denied there was anything unusual as the banks all use the markets to get financing for the loans they make anyway.

The premier said the matters had all been aired publicly and when pressed about any connection between himself and the principles of Banque Havilland, the bank which had supplied the short term load of over $36 million to government last December, Bush said what connection he had was "to know people”, without further explanation.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We need answers. I am sick and tired of Mr. Bush beating aroundthe bush and avoiding the issues.

  2. noname says:

    What more proof is needed?  He did not follow rules and regulations put in place to keep this from happening and screwed the Caymanian people out of half a million dollars.  NOW what can be done about it?   Nothing.  What more proof is needed that Cayman is a third world country in a suit and tie.  What?  You(Una) don't like that picture?  Then change it.  O wait.  You can't.  You live in a third world country.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It made perfect economy…no econline…no ecomedical…well it made scents to me as a lawn mower guy.

  4. Anonymous says:

    well done alden….. seems like the ppm at last have an opposition leader…

  5. Deep Throat says:

    FOLLOW THE MONEY.  The answers will then become clear.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Sadly, no matter what answer Alden presses for Big Mac will give a response that is twisted with religion in order to bamboozle those few who still believe in him… I expect to see a written response, or even better a television broadcast from Mac much in the veign that he 'was guided by the Lord' or refer to some inane scripture about how 'his hands are clean' and that will be the end of the matter for Mac's God fearing voters… Much like when Mac accuses those who oppose him of being devil worshippers he, as do many of his cronies use the Bible as a shield… and sadly all too many Caymanians believe that the answer "I didn't do any wrong, I'm a Christian" or best of all "I don't lie cus I went to Bible school for 25 years" seems to be a real argument ender!?

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is the most blatant disregard imaginable from the entire UDP clan for their positions and for the well being of this country and its people. God be with you Alden. Thanks to you it is becoming ever more obvious the level that this bunch was prepared to stoop to to get themselves back in power, and that they certainly will not hesitate do continue to do so to STAY there. Justice and truth WILL reign supreme in the end, and the harder these folks come, the harder they will certainly fall. I hope the entire Cayman voting public's eyes and ears are wide open and their brains are properly functioning for a change.   

    • Voting public says:

      I hope the voting public will see that they have been led down a garden path (and deceived).  The Two-Party system has done nothing but ruin this country for the past decade.

      The Two – Party system in such a SMALL place where everybody knows everybody has done nothing, but divide families, prey on the poor and made the wealthy even more powerful.

      Don't be SHEEP!  Don't fall for the empty promises.  Next time people, vote for people, not parties!

      Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
      Albert Einstein

  8. Anonymous says:

    Bush will never respond to any question that would incriminate himself or make him look more the fool than is already apparent to anyone with a 5th grade and  above education.  I'm sure he realizes bynow that he is in way over his abilities and with his record he will never get anywhere near the pay that he is rakeing in right now.  A person like himself will do anything to hold on to that as long as possible and do anything it takes.  Asking him if he is doing a good enough job is like asking Qaddafi the same thing.  You want him out?  You will have to do the work yourself.  With your record that is not likely.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Banque Haviland is owned by the secretive Rowland family. This whole connection with our government stinks to the highest heavens.

    It is no wonder that our Premier now has personal security. It certainly is not for protection from his own people. At least not now anyway. This is beginning to sound like the classic "rock and hard place" scenario.

    Caymanians and concerned expats who actually care about this place, "Wake the hell up, before what is done in secret comes out into the open!"

  10. Anon says:

    Another title for this article could have been:

    'Premier refuses to answer questions about Financial Transaction'

    or even : 'Govt refuses to answer questions about Financial Transacrion'

    Although any way you put it, they are all in the same sinking galleon and the lifeboat wont hold the whole gang.

  11. Chris Johnson says:

    Keep pressing Alden. The Cohen deal never passed the sniff test. There is an abundance of banking expertise in these islands and the persons arranging the loan had no expertise in this area whatsoever. If I was the AG I would be tracking down all emails relating to the loan arrangements. Sad to say that no longer are auditors watchdogs looking to see where the money apparently went, they need be bloodhounds to track down where it actually went.

    • Anonymous says:

      When will people realise, if you ignore the sniff test and something is fishy, you will always end up with an STD otherwise known as a Suspicious Transaction Dilemma?

    • Anonymous says:

      Chris, it makes me sad to say it but we have officially become a banana republic. With 9 members of the LA voting with him, and presumably his actions sanctioned by the Chairman and all UDP party members, XXXXXX is now a way of life.

      • Chris Johnson says:

        Do not throw in the towel. We know that when the various investigations are complete Cayman will be a better place, guaranteed. We are in the same position as the TCI and that place the investigations are being rewarded by cash and assets flowing back to the people.

    • R.U. Kiddin says:

      Maybe there are some more churches we don't know about.