Cayman Islands: Cayman's New Anti Corruption Commission

An amendment to Cayman's existing Anti-Corruption Law (2014 Revision) has been passed, the Anti- Corruption (Amendment) Law, 2016, and it has far reaching consequences as to how corruption is now investigated within the public sector in the Cayman Islands, enhancing the methods by which corruption will be investigated and ensuring the establishment of an independent body for carrying out the provisions of the law, specifically ensuring independence when it comes to the oversight of each investigation conducted.

The Anti-Corruption Commission, a vital body that is required to enhance and promote the accountability of all public officials, was originally created in accordance with Part 2, Section 3 of the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Law (2008). It is extremely important that such a body, established to investigate reports of public sector corruption, stimulates accountability and public confidence, by taking proper responsibility for the administration of this law. But while the Commission had broad reaching powers to investigate reports of corruption, liaise with overseas anti-corruption authorities, and obtain Court Orders to freeze the assets of those suspected of committing corruption offences, it was felt, in the quest for good governance, that the Commission would be far more effective and independent with a reexamination of its composition and the methods by which it gathered such information.

NEW MEMBERS APPOINTED

The original Commission required the membership of five appointees from local law enforcement and the public sector, including, the police commissioner, the auditor general and the complaints commissioner. However, the 2016 amendments have removed this requirement, with the Governor now responsible for the appointment of all five members of the Commission. All of these members are volunteers, and none of whom are from the public sector, which is a clear move to end the dual role played by some members of the original Commission, and to ensure a transparent, effective and independent Commission henceforth.

The changes to the law, which were approved by the Legislative Assembly in June 2016, also stated that, in addition to the removal of the police commissioner, auditor general and complaints commissioner from the board, no one else from the public sector should be appointed to replace them. The amendment does however permit the Commission chairman to invite the attorney general or the police commissioner to attend any meeting of the Commission and to participate or to provide information to the Commission with regard to work which relates to anti-corruption matters, but crucially neither individual will be able to vote in the Commission.

INTEGRITY, EXPERIENCE, COMPETENCE

In particular, it was a requirement that the individuals who would be appointed to the Commission were, in the opinion of the Governor, of high integrity and were able to exercise competence, diligence and sound judgment in fulfilling their responsibilities under this law. They were also required to be residents of the islands and could include retired judges of the Grand Court or the Court of Appeal, retired police officers, retired justices of the peace or magistrates, chartered or certified accountants, attorneys-at-law or retired attorneys-at-law. Following the announcement of the new amendments to the law, former Cayman Islands Attorney General Richard Coles was appointed as the Commission Chairman. Mr Coles has also served as the Chairman of the Cayman Islands Human Rights Commission.

Three other new members to the Commission are: former Cayman Islands Monetary Authority Chairman and Maples & Calder Senior Partner Timothy Ridley, OBE; Sophia Harris, Managing Partner of Solomon Harris who has a string of public service positions to her name, including Past President of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce and Past Chairwoman of the Cayman Islands Department of Immigration Business Staffing Plan Board; and accountant and recent Young Caymanian Leadership Award recipient Kadi Pentney-Merren.

Local highly respected businessman, Mr Norman Bodden, OBE, Managing Director of Bodden Corporate Services and a Director of Bodden & Bodden, Attorneys at Law, is the only currently appointed commission member to retain his post. Each of the members have been appointed to shorter terms than their predecessors on the Commission, who were originally given five year terms under the old law. Mr Bodden, Mr Coles and Mr Ridley were given two year terms, Mrs Harris and Ms Merren have been appointed for three year terms.

DUTIES ARE BROAD

The primary functions and duties of the Anti-Corruption Commission are broad and far-reaching, and include, among other things, the requirement to: receive and consider any report to the Commission of a corruption offence and investigate such report; receive and request, analyse and disseminate disclosures of any information concerning corruption offences under the Law or suspected offences; or required by any law in order to counter corruption.

Taking the above into consideration, the Commission members do not physically investigate the acts of crime themselves. Instead, under the old law, they would second Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officers to investigate such matters. Eventually, police officers were assigned full-time to undertake the investigative work of the Anti-Corruption Commission, but this method of investigation proved slow and unsatisfactory.

Now, under the new law, investigators will be appointed by the Governor to investigate complaints under this law and to carry out such other duties as may be provided. That said, the investigators will possess all the powers and immunities of constables acting generally in the ordinary course of their duty. Under the law the investigators will have powers of arrest, but they will have to hand over custody of the suspects to police once the arrest has been made.

With the above changes having been implemented, it is anticipated that the Anti- Corruption Commission will be able to carry out its important work efficiently and effectively, with the full support and confidence of the general public.

Independent of the government, they are able to work for the good of the islands, investigating matters of public fraud and ensuring that perpetrators of such crimes are duly brought to justice.

About the Author

Having changed careers from financial services to writing and editing in the late 1990s, Lindsey runs Mayflower Features and services a wide range of clients in the Cayman Islands and abroad, including newspapers and magazines, government entities, PR firms, non-profit organisations, real estate companies and the financial services industry.

She was the editor of Cayman Executive magazine, and went on to establish the Cayman Islands Journal, which she edited for nine years. One of Lindsey's biggest clients is Destination Cayman, Cayman's foremost tourism magazine, for which she writes, edits and photographs.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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