The Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) reports that it’s moving into its phase of operations with a focus on remaining “resolute to maintain and uphold its mission”, this time under new leadership.
Caymanian attorney Sophia Harris will be taking over the helms of the ACC following the departure of Richard Coles of the UK.
In the just-released 2019-2020 annual report under his leadership, Mr Coles states that “whilst the effects of the global pandemic have been far-reaching and brought about unprecedented challenges to the Cayman Islands and the world as a whole, the Anti-Corruption Commission remains resolute to maintain and uphold its mission.”
The report points out that while there have been many notable accomplishments and achievements of the ACC over its 10-year existence, “the Commission casts its focus on the future, on the work to be done as corruption continues to be a growing concern globally.”
Our mission remains “To enhance the stability, prosperity and reputation of the Cayman Islands by sustaining the confidence and trust of the community in the integrity and good governance of its government and public institutions through fighting corruption with just, fair and effective investigations,” the ACC says.
It adds that it “remains vigilant in its actions to promote awareness and the enhancement of good governance.”
To this end, the ACC says it has supported the Civil Service vision to be a ‘World-Class Civil Service’ in collaboration with the Commission for Standards in Public Life by conducting an informative presentation on the remit, powers and work of the Commission to new recruits of the Customs and Border Control (CBC) cohort.
In addition, it reports that it has finalised the proposed draft amendments to the Anti-Corruption Law which incorporate key provisions to enhance the work of the Commission.
LONG ARM OF THE ACC
Looking back at its 2019-2020 operating period, the ACC reports that it currently has 14 active cases under investigation.
It received four new complaints and conducted 74 interviews with 16 suspects and 58 witnesses. Three arrests were made, 11 persons charged, and four convictions secured.
Furthermore, two search warrants were issued, and nine persons have been charged and are awaiting trial - eight in Grand Court and the other in the Summary Court.
Six reports have been sent to the Director of Public prosecutions.
Nine out of twelve defendants received guilty verdicts although the sentencing hearings have yet to be concluded.
“During this reporting period,” it notes, “the final trial in the largest-ever corruption trial in the Cayman Islands Grand Court took place.”
That case which concluded last October involved charges of fraud, and bribery in which the defendants included a number of high-ranking government officers of the then Immigration Department - now Customs and Border Control.
The issue which came to light in 2015 centred the defendants providing fraudulent passing grades to persons taking an English-language test as an immigration requirement.
The Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) says it also continued to consider desirable amendments to the Law working in collaboration with the Office of the Attorney General.
One of the amendments being considered concerns would give the ACC the ability to retain any proceeds awarded during confiscation proceedings.
The ACC says retention of this funding would assist it as it moves forward with achieving future independence.
The ACC has also declared interest in the Cayman Islands Standards in Public Life Law.
It has also been proposed that ACC should be included generally in all laws “so as to have the same or similar provisions as other law- enforcement bodies.”
The ACC’s scope of operations includes collaborating with the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (“C-FATF”) and other regional and international agencies.