Archive for June 12th, 2014

‘ICTA-gate’ incenses MLAs

| 12/06/2014 | 27 Comments

(CNS): Revelations that no disciplinary action was taken against the former MD of the Information Communication and Technology Authority in the fallout over questionable recruitment practices at the ICTA has incensed some political representatives. The minister responsible for the ICTA confirmed that David Archbold had been let go but was paid to the end of his contract and no action was taken over the scandal. Kurt Tibbetts said legal advice given by the attorney general was that, with only three months remaining on the former MD’s contract, it would be easier and less costly for government to simply pay off the public authority employee rather than risk a courtroom battle.

Tibbetts said that if the government had dismissed the ex-ICTA boss without paying out his contract it may have encountered some legal challenges that could have been more costly to the public purse. However, the minister also revealed that there was no official contract in place between Archbold and government as it had expired but he had remained in post regardless and was just three months from retirement age at the time of the revelations and subsequent enquiry.

During Monday’s Finance Committee when the Tibbetts, who is the minister with responsibility for the statutory authority, was answering questions on his appropriations, the independent members for East End and North Side both probed him on the outcome of an enquiry regarding what they described as the former ICTA MD’s supervision over unlawful recruitment of ex-pats and his alleged perjury in the parliament when it was exposed.

At last year’s Finance Committee hearing in October the MD had been questioned about how a contract had been signed by an overseas worker to come to Cayman and take up a senior post at the ICTA before the deadline for applications in the local advertisements for the same job had passed.

Archbold denied this had happened but documentation confirmed that it had and the MD had appeared to mislead the members of the Finance Committee. MLAs an all sides of the House were outraged as the issue of bending recruitment practices to tailor jobs to fit permit holders or people identified overseas and pass over qualified Caymanians had been a significant issue during the day’s proceedings.

As a result, the minister had promised to report back to the Legislative Assembly about what had happened and the subsequent actions taken. Tibbetts said last October that government would take the situation seriously and, once he had the report from the board, “there would be accountability".

However, both of the independent members were incredulous when Tibbetts revealed the outcome and the failure to apply any sanctions to anyone over what had happened. Clearly uncomfortable with the revelations, Tibbetts insisted that the government acted in the best interests of the public purse based on legal advice and said that in the end there was a successful outcome as the ICTA was now headed up by a fully qualified Caymanian.

Following the revelations in October's Finance Committee and the departure of the MD, his job and others were re-advertised and Alee Fa’moe was appointed as MD of the ICTA.

Talking about the events, Tibbetts said the ICTA board had conducted an investigation and produced a report that went to Cabinet, which then took legal advice based on the findings. It indicated that it would be best to terminate the former MD immediately but pay him up to his retirement date, which Tibbetts said was “not an expensive proposition compared to a potential legal fight”.

East End member Arden McLean pressed Tibbetts on the events, asking him to tell the people what had happened and ifthe ex-ICTA boss was sacked for disciplinary infractions but had still been paid. Although reluctant to give a straight answer, Tibbetts did not deny this had happened.

“Were I in the member's seat over there I would be asking same questions,” Tibbetts said but added that “certain situations” appeared to represent a challenge. “I understand it is the people’s money and I try my best with the custodianship I have and that it is judicious, but when it comes to certain matters involving individuals it is not so easy …” he said. “At some point in time bad judgment was exercised by way of a possible contract and advertising for a post … the whole situation went wrong. From our perspective, whether intentions were best or not they were all handled wrong and we could not say it was OK, and hence the action.”

Tibbetts said the process followed by the MD had run "counter to the terms” of those set out under the law regarding recruitment of overseas workers. Despite the wrongdoing, he said, “it was only three months … so we made a judgment call.”

As he questioned the minister North Side MLA Ezzard Miller also raised concerns about the message sent by such a decision as he suggested that rather than being held accountable for wrongdoing the former ICTA boss had been rewarded. Miller also noted the point that the former MD, in his view, had committed perjury when giving evidence to the committee and he intended to take that up with the attorney general and the director of public prosecutions when they were before the committee.

Related articles on CNS:

MLAs expose CS bosses

KT waits on ICTA-report

Continue Reading