ERA will need to tender probe

| 11/04/2013

Cash.JPG(CNS): The need to investigate the circumstances surrounding the bid to generate 35MW of electricity for Grand Cayman could end up being very costly for the public purse. Officials from the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) Board said this week that they had noted the request by one of the bidders for a public enquiry, which they said would increase the costs further. The board is currently deciding if the investigation itself will need to be tendered, since the ERA is a public authority. The board has concerns that the probe is as a result of what could be baseless allegations, given that the award was made after an assessment by ERA staff, including the then Managing Director and his management team, as well as two independent consultants.

The need for an investigation has been triggered by the former MD, Joey Ebanks, who was charged yesterday with 29 counts of theft, fraud and forgery. Ebanks is running for office in the district of North Side against the incumbent, Ezzard Miller, on a platform of anti-corruption. He began making allegations about the tendering process for the generation contract after he was suspended when financial irregularities, which have resulted in the charges, were made public and just ahead of his announcement that he would be taking Miller on in the elections.

The ERA has made it clear that it has concerns about the motivation behind the allegations which has led to the need for a costly enquiry.

“All parties concerned need to bear in mind the source of these allegations and the fact that these were not brought to the board's attention until after the employee's suspension for financial irregularities and his subsequent resignation," a board spokesperson stated. “Taken on their face value, the allegations do not suggest but in fact confirm that the decision to award the bid to DECCO was taken by the board after an assessment had been made by the staff of the ERA, two independent and overseas consultants, the then managing director, with the full support of the management team and based on legal advice."

Ebanks has used the pages of Facebook to claim that he was asked to fix the Dart bid made by DECCO and that he had begun raising the issue before he was suspended. Ebanks claims that it was when he refused to ’fix’ the bid after the fact, despite his own part in the award, that the irregularities were raised and he was subsequently suspended and placed under investigation. The North Side hopeful said he was asked to amend the rate for DECCO as there had been a typo in the Dart bid. He has implied, however, that this ‘fixing issue’ occurred in March, although the contract was awarded in February, which raises questions about the veracity of the allegations.

In addition, the irregularities on which the charges against Ebanks were based and leaked this week were discovered by staff from the Office of the Auditor General during the usual annual audit.

After the charges were laid against him yesterday, Ebanks posted on his Facebook page that, had the police shown him the list of allegations instead of leaking them to his opponent and Cayman News Service, he would have been able to explain away all of the accusations. However, as he was only presented with the details yesterday when he answered the police bail, he will now have to go to trial, where he was confident he would be exonerated.

In the meantime, he has contacted Navasota Energy, the Texas-based firm which was one of the three bidders in the competitive tender for the power generation, along with CUC and Darts’ company DECCO, offering to supply an affidavit regarding the circumstances of the alleged impropriety with the bidding process.

In the wake of the ERA’s announcement last Friday that it would be undertaking an enquiry, the Texas-based energy firm has called for that enquiry to be open and public. The ERA has said that this may be the case but the cost of the probe also has to be considered, given that the allegations are in question.

“As an authority, any enquiry will have to go to public tender unless there are exceptional circumstances justifying the appointment of a single individual provider,” a spokesperson for the ERA told CNS Wednesday, adding that the source of the allegations has to be considered in this case.

“The ERA has a duty to ensure that any bidders for any tender receive an honest and fair assessment and we intend to ensure that that was the case in this instance but we also have a duty to the public to respond to any allegations in a measured and reasonable manner and to ensure that our response is proportionate.”

The board is meeting next week and will announce their decision on how the enquiry will move forward after that.

Meanwhile, the former ERA boss is continuing what he maintains is his campaign against corruption on the pages of Facebook, as well as the local airwaves with his evening radio show on Vibe FM.

Ebanks is also facing a number of civil actions, including those from the chair of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission and the governor.

Related articles:

US bidder wants open probe

Joey took salary advance

Cops throw book Joey

Ebanks triggers bid probe

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  1. Truth says:

    There is spending money and then there is wasting money.  One takes skill and experience and the other only shows a complete lack of the ability to comprehend the value of hard earned cash.  Cayman needs more mature leadership or it will end up broke and for sale.  That scenario will not work well for Caymanian intitlement program.  Think of your kids future when you vote.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Joey is obviously a raving lunatic! He is saying that the Dart bid was fixed and he knows that because he was the Managing Director at the time, but he kept his mouth shut then and is only now telling the world about it because he has been fired. Think about that for a second. He is, in effect, admitting to being involved in official corruption and is now using this scandal to distract the public. The police should be investigating this allegation and they can start by having him arrested under the Mental Health Law and then have him examined by a psychiatrist, and then, if he is actually fit to be released, release him on bail with a strict condiction that he has to STFU and stay off of Facebook. Because, if he can’t justify all of the scandalous things that he has said on there already, he should have already been charged with libel, which is a criminal offence. But, alas, often times we continue to listen to to the drivel that lunatics like him (and Dr. Frank) spit out just because we are so desperate for entertainment. This crap is so shameful and ludicrous that it shouldn’t even be reported.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The way I see it is if Joey knew something and didn't say anything he is guilty as well.

  4. Undercover Detective Peroit says:

    I am an "Unskilled Devious Person "and I was instructed

    by the people of these Islands to utilize all of my "known and established

    skills" as a leader" to choose and appoint,  individuals of honesty, integrity

    and of unquestionable character as heads of some Statutory Boards of our 

    Government, but was unable to find any of the above. I therefore I had no

    choice but to utilize what was available. And you know the rest.


    I must now get on with my campaign for the coming election, because my

    country needs me. I sorry I won't be ableto spend time to get us back on

    line. I therefore call upon the  "Past  Play Makers" and their group

    "Challenge 4 Change" to step forward and observe all upcoming

    investigations of past negotiations. I also know that "the winner of the bid

    will get the contract". Meanwhile I'm afraid that the M & M boys will be

    watching every move I make, and they just hoping I get in so can pick on

    me, but they not go mek "ME" cry!





  5. Anonymous says:

    Someone had a list of what our first Minister of Finance costs us with his crazy decisions. Cohen Loan, GLF firing etc. Can someone please update the list and add ERA Probe to it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Did anyone check the sanity of this individual?

  7. The Spin cycle says:

    "I was in the middle of writing myself another salary advance….when I noticed… something suspicious… was going on… with the bids. After I cashed it paid off some debts and bought another Iphone, I thought it over and after taking a drive and… sitting in Pedro with my pipe….my mind was made up! I knew I had to report this! Then I bought another Iphone….so I could call it in and it wouldn't be traced to one of the other phones… because of the conspiracy. It's the same conspiracy that got my boss McKeeva BUUT… before I could do this…the Auditor's Office starting asking questions…about ME!!!"


    "That's my story and I'm sticking to it."

  8. St Peter says:

    Well. Joey was appointed by Mac wasnt he?

    It seems like everything that Mac touched turned into a financial disaster…

    I hope the West Bayers have learned, but most of all I would like to hear from those major businessmen who stood up on his platform in 2009 telling everybody how good the UDP would be for the country…

    Cayman voters – please remove everyone that were in the UDP or are linked to the UDP!

    Or we might all end up Unda Da Police (UDP) like Mac and Joey…

  9. Anonymous says:

    Public enquiries achieve very little and cost a lot.  Cayman is not a large jurisdiction and this contract in question is just not that big to justify an inquiry on that issue.  If there is to be a public inquiry it has to be into the broader culture of government contracting and procurement, perhaps with some form of amnesty for private individuals (i.e. the non-government side).

    • Anonymous says:

      "contract in question is just not that big to justify an inquiry on that issue."

      So it should just be sept under the rug?

      By stamping out the smallest infractions by those at the top, you know the leaders, everyone else should follow suit in the future.

      • Anonymous says:

        No one said sweep it under the rug.  They just said it is not worthy of a public inquiry.  Very different.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Somebody gag Joey before he bankrupts us completely!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    There has to be an enquiry, and it has to be open and independent. The cost is bound to be significant, but the cost of not investigating is far more.
    If you just take this case, then the implications of this contract will last generations, but there is a far more important issue. If the contract has been awarded without proper consideration of ALL bidders, then WHY was it awarded to that bidder? This is particularly relevant in the light of the current allegations against the ex MD, but it is now becoming more than coincidence that a number of big financial deals were done out of the public gaze, think of just the Port deal, the Cohen deal, there are many more. If I was a betting man I would wager a lot that inducements feature in these cases, I might be proved wrong, but the whole point of proper above board negotiations is to stop suspicious people like me from having any grounds for such thoughts!
    No doubt people will say Cayman can’t afford the process, but it cannot afford to go on allowing these things to happen.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly.  If things were done properly in the first place, we, the public, wouldn't end up paying all these additional fees in court fees, settlements, and costs of enquiries in the first place.  Its election time and I hope we're all going to make sure our politicians know that we're not going to put up with this blatant abuse of our money, the public purse, any further.  I firmly believe this is just the tip of the iceberg.  We need to clean our closets and get sll the skeletons out now.

  12. Anonymous says:

    ERA needs to have someone attend to their website pronto!!!!!!! 


    Who is going to take them seriously with a website like that?

  13. Anonymous says:

    The ERA Board should be suspended immediately, and remain suspended until the investigation is complete. The fact that they were appointed by the UDP government is sufficient grounds. How can anyone expect them to examine themselves and determine if they did the right thing?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Open Comment to ERA Board:

    If you want to show that all matters in the award of the contract to Dart / DECCO was done with honesty and integrety then begin to convince us by publishing on the internet ALL documents, notes, meeting diaries, phone logs, etc., etc. related in any way with the energy supply bid and award of contract.

    Your response is awaited.




  15. Anonymous says:

    His family must be so embrassed by his actions.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Of course the investigation will be costly, but it is entirely necessary. Joey has been suspended and (according to him) he subsequently resigned, but we have to remember that the entire ERA BOARD was also appointed by McKeeva. They should have no influence over this investigation whatsoever.


    I fully agree with Navasota Energy that there should be an open and public enquiry, and they should be called on to explain why they would make an unsolicited offer for 20MW of solar power to the ERA at the time they were reviewing their 36MW bid for diesel generated power.


    That guy who did the public review of the Misick government corruption in Turks and Caicos would be the person I would most like to see conducting the public enquiry.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The board is supposed to exercise business judgment. If the board believes the allegations are baseless, and it ought to have a very good idea whether this is so, then it should reject the allegations and avoid the expense of a rabbit hunt. It appears the board does not want to be responsible for anything either before, during or after.

    • Anonymous says:

      Let Joey pay for it….

      • Anonymous says:

        He's going to pay for it if he has just been blowing hot air, the ERA stated that at the outset of this mess.

        If he's right, we get to pay whatever it costs, again by way of guess what….more f**king fee increases on everything.

        • Anonymous says:

          Given his history what makes anyone think Joey would be able to pay?

          • Anonymous says:

            He paid back his Boswains Beach salary advances with a bag full of cash ($80k if I remember correctly). He tried to slip it back in through petty cash.


            I remember wondering at the time how a guy like that could get a suit case full of cash on short notice.


            Suggestions anyone?

      • Anonymous says:

        He would have to get a salary advance for that.