Cayman business community nervous over Bush probes

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, Thursday, April 26, 2012 – Police probes into Cayman Premier McKeeva Bush over two alleged cases of financial irregularities and his involvement with an illegal shipment of dynamite has raised concerns from both the Chamber of Commerce and Cayman Finance.

However, neither private sector association has got to the point where it is asking for the country’s leader to step down.

The continuation of the enquiries and Cayman’s reputation was of particular concern to the Chamber and its 700 members, a spokesperson for the body stated on Tuesday.
“As expected, the announcement has generated negative international media coverage at a time when the local business community is working diligently to improve the economy, increase investment and jobs. It is therefore imperative that these police investigations are completed as efficiently and quickly as possible to confirm or dismiss the legitimacy of the allegations, ”  the Chamber stated in response to the revelations by the police last Saturday that the premier was at the heart of three different criminal probes.

A statement from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service on Saturday revealed that the premier was now the subject of three different police investigations. Two of those relate to financial irregularities, one of which surrounds a letter sent by Bush to Texan developer Stan Thomas back in 2004 asking for $350,000 to settle a matter relating to a land deal and zoning. The third police probe, according to the police, is connected with an unlicensed shipment of dynamite that recently arrived in Cayman.

Speaking on behalf of Cayman Finance, chairman Richard Coles echoed the concerns of the Chamber. “We hope that the matters being investigated can be concluded with some urgency so that the cases can be closed to avoid any further damage to the jurisdiction’s reputation,” he said.

So far, the premier has declined to resign, despite calls for him to do so, as he says he has done nothing wrong and claims the allegations are a conspiracy of UK civil servants seeking to discredit the Cayman Islands.

“The continual rumours of investigations without any formal notice to the premier, the possible involvement of certain civil servants in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are reminiscent of – and consistent with – the Operation Tempura fiasco and other attempts over the years, such as the Brian Gibbs and the David Ballantyne operation (both of whom are now employed in the FCO) to destabilize and damage the government of the Cayman Islands,” the premier stated at the weekend, calling the allegations baseless.

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