Tussles with airport board made dismissal ‘inevitable’

| 12/08/2015 | 42 Comments
Cayman News Service

Jeremy Jackson

(CNS): The former CEO of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority has said that his dismissal by the board in February 2013 was, in hindsight, inevitable and from the time government changed in 2009 and UDP came into power, there was “something in the wind”. Jeremy Jackson told CNS, “I’m surprised I lasted as long as I did.”

Following a two-year investigation by the Financial Crimes Unit of the RCIPS, Jackson has been vindicated of being party to or covering up theft at the authority, the most serious grounds for being put on required leave in December 2012 and dismissed two months later.

The reasons given to fire him were based on an audit performed by a member of the board and paid for by the board, though Jackson told CNS that he was only shown a preliminary report of the full document, which was just a few pages long.

After Jackson and his lawyer had rebutted the allegations, the board sought legal advice regarding his termination and was told by their own lawyer that the list of his supposed infractions were not substantiated sufficiently to fire him.

While the lawyer hired by the board to advise them found that there were “clear breaches of policy and protocol”, he said in a letter to the CIAA directors that he was “unable to advise that the threshold had been crossed”. Suggesting two options, he advised that the board could reinstate Jackson with a warning or they could terminate his employment under the requisite notice under his contract.

However, around this time, the damning audit of the CIAA, which had been conducted by board member Jewel Hydes, appeared on North Side MLA Ezzard Miller’s windscreen by a supposed whistleblower, whom Jackson suspects to be a board member, and then leaked to CNS, before he had even seen the full report. Shortly afterwards, on 28 February 2013, he was fired.

Although it was a clear conflict of interest to have a board member conduct the audit (a point that was emphasized by the auditor general), Jackson said that at a board meeting it had been categorically stated that Hydes was not paid for this, though later it was found that she was, in fact, paid $46,000 for the audit.

In his 2012 report, the auditor general had found conflict of interest within the CIAA board to be “so pervasive” that it had “the potential to undermine the ability of the Board to operate in the best interest of CIAA and negatively impacts its financial performance.”

As an illustration of how true that was, Jackson said the major fallout between him and the board came because of the position he took to regularize the two ground handling service providers. Arimando Ebanks, the owner of Cayman Dispatch Services, was trying to obtain a licence for insurance and business purposes, he said.

However, Jackson discovered that none of the service providers had any formal contract with the airport. Because the existing companies already had commitments and contracts themselves, efforts to rectify this would have included plans to grandfather their rights.

But in February 2012, as board chair, Dick Arch wrote a draft policy for the airport including the licensing of services, of which his own company, Air Agencies, was a major beneficiary. The policy only recognized his company and Flowers Air Dispatch Services (FADS), owned by another board member, Frank Flowers, which performed passenger security screening and baggage handling.

Draft policy for the CIAA proposed by Board Chair Richard Arch, Feb 2012

Arch’s policy, which had the appearance of protecting his own company and squeezing out CDS, was never accepted by the board, since the legal advice they received was that CDS had as much right to a licence as the other companies.

“The atmosphere at the airport was very tense,” Jackson said. “Some of the board members were not happy with the antics of the board chair and either quit or just did not attend meetings.”

But the seeds of the clash between the board and the CEO had begun much earlier. When he first started in November 2008, the new CEO discovered that Air Agencies had not paid rent for years and owed over $100,000 to the authority. Jackson said that to pay it off they worked out a monthly amount to pay the debt and also the current fees.

“This was for rent that had not been adjusted since the airport was built and was extremely cheap,” Jackson said. He discussed raising the rent with the board but, “I was told point blank not to even think about fee increases.”

Another area of conflict was the redesign of the Owen Roberts Airport. Despite government directing the CIAA to put this to tender, Arch insisted the design-build contract was given to Arch & Godfrey, which is owned by his half-brother, Herbert Arch, as a sole source procurement, thus avoiding the Central Tenders Committee.

ORIA Design Build Sole Source Procurement_June2012 (justification to use A&G p16)

Jackson, having again sought legal advice to deal with the demands of the board, then drafted a letter of intent to A&G which included a clause that would protect the CIAA from liability issues. However, he was instructed by the board to take that clause out.

“So whose interests were they looking at?” he asked.

Even though the auditor general found questionable accounts at the CIAA, Jackson emphasized that the FCU had investigated the theft allegations and had not found a case to answer. He said the missing money could have been as a result of a mistake and that there were issues with the parking system that was ongoing even now.

Despite everything, Jackson said he is not taking any legal action. He said he views the whole episode “as a learning experience in how to handle people who have different moral and ethical values”.

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Comments (42)

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  1. AGS says:

    Jeremy, I am glad that you have finally been vindicated. It has been a long and difficult road for you and your family having to endure this cloud of suspicion and the gossip mongers but God is still looking down and although I think you should be compensated for all this I understand your sentiment of viewing this “as a learning experience in how to handle people who have different moral and ethical values”. Your parents raised you and your siblings to be upright and honest individuals. To you and your family not everything is about money unlike others and when you tried to raise the alarm several times you were subsequently fired for it but God is still watching. Those that had a hand in your removal will have to answer for it but not by your doing. Leave them to God. XXXX

  2. Viceroy glitch says:

    To describe the theft of parking fees as a glitch is stretching it quite a bit. It is very interesting to see just how gullible some folks here can be. When a person who’s responsibility it is to fix these “glitches” can explain them away as nothing it makes you wonder just how many more glitches you have at the CIAA.

  3. Just Watchin says:

    Anonymous @ 3:39p:
    No one is blaming Alden for what happened to Jeremy; that’s your creation.
    All I was pointing out is that his tolerance for impropriety is no different form that of McKeeva if he says nothing and does nothing about the allegations against his party member, Julianna O’Connor-Connolly.
    Dick Arch and the others did what they did because Mc tolerated their behaviour. Is Alden any different in tolerating Julie’s?
    They call themselves leaders but all they really do is look out for themselves and their ‘political hand’ so that they can win the game they’re playing – with Cayman and our children’s’ future.

  4. Anonymous says:

    here I was trying to get a job for my son at the airport or Cayman Airways, but with all this corruption going on, I will wait until God sees it fit for him to be hired elsewhere . I am more hoping now for an overseas job for him and “yes” he is a born Caymanian with a BSc in Business Management, Pilots License and Aviation Science under his belt, but he cannot even get a response from all the applications he has submitted. This small Island has lost its way for the love of money.

    • Anonymous says:

      There may be two reasons your son can’t get a job. First his parent is applying for him. And second the oldest cliché is the “if he qualifies as a pilot he has to be hired” line.

    • Anonymous says:

      He should try applying as if he is an expat. I am sure he will get response. Praying for the day of the ” Cayman Revolution”. Feed up with all the bitching around.

  5. Cayman resolution says:

    It is sure funny how an abuser of his or her job and position cries out when the tables have turned and he or she becomes the victim or the abused and how they wrap themselves in a blanket of blameless clouds and this vain self righteous attitude blinds them from seeing their part or now chooses to blame others in this self inflicted situation. Sad part that so many of you know and saw the abuse and even complained or mumble about it. Yet you will now join into this shameful orgy of self pity because it is simply too hard to be honest with yourselves. Caymanians need to remember having these high paying positions comes with great responsibility and should never abuse it by being complacent or unaccountable for their actions or conduct.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman resolution, 13/08/2015 at 12:44 am,

      There is NOTHING funny about this situation. Having any job at the top comes with great responsibility public or private sector especially when your board does not back you all because you do not allow them to do as they please! However, Jeremy NEVER abused his ‘power’. It is quite obvious where your allegiance lies because anyone with an unbiased opinion of this situation can see he fell victim to the political system and it is SAD!

      Such a shame with all the facts here, you still fight this man down and know NOTHING about what really happened!

    • David S. says:

      The worst any dept head can do as a civil servant is to overly or shield a reckless employee subordinate who will eventually bring down their superior by their own misconduct.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Will anything change at the Board?….Not very likely!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I was at a service station recently when an ass wipe of an opposition member – came up to me wanting me to sign a petition against one man one vote.

    I told them to get lost as OMOV allows greater accountability of our politicians and makes them work for their fat paycheck every month.

    • David S. says:

      Hi 8:26 OMOV may be a good servant for some but a bad master for others down the road. EXPATScan take advantage of OMOV by building their own electoral boundary inviting their own into a development.They them identify an expat as a leader for office and groom him to run with the help of twisting the Ouls arm to allow them to vote and run for office.Then boom! Locals wakeup one day to the news of an elected expat premier and a majority of expat cabinet and house! That’s what the OMOV can do to Cayman if you’re not careful. So stop the passiveness.

  8. Reese says:

    The big question is what will change? Are there going to be changes at board level? The $46,000 paid to ms. Hydes, will the CICAA be reimbursed? Is the new rent increase being paid? So many questions.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is obviously a decent man who has been put through a hellish experience because he tried to do his job. What an object lesson for civil servants: if you want to survive, hold your head down, and if you must lift it, the response should be,”Yes, sir; no.sir; three bags full sir.”

      Someone should pay for his pain and suffering — and I hope he is well compensated.

    • Anonymous says:

      You don’t seem to be very well liked for your big (but valid and sensible) questions.

  9. The Sufi says:

    I don’t personally know Mr. Jackson but he seems to be a very intelligent honest man. XXXXX mr. Jackson should be paid for all this upheaval caused in his life and Dick Arch and the board members who allowed it should have to give up their money. I also hope that this government finds a good job for Mr. Jackson to move into. This is a crying shame, XXXXXX

  10. George Ebanks says:

    Should have never been allowed to happen. Threw a monkeys wrench into the career of another up and coming Caymanian. All for what? Who benefits here?
    Authorities must be ran like a business. XXXXX
    Enough of this shenanigans!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Talk about a blatant conflict of interest!

    “…board chair, Dick Arch wrote a draft policy for the airport including the licensing of services, of which his own company, Air Agencies, was a major beneficiary. The policy only recognized his company and Flowers Air Dispatch Services (FADS), owned by another board member, Frank Flowers…”

    No irregularities here folks, move along.

  12. Anonymous says:

    How could having Arch and Flowers on the Board ever have been in the public interest?

    • Anonymous says:

      Cos we is ferewa onerable.

    • Anonymous says:

      cus meh an sista julie praid bout it first nah. din weh put on dim on the board that weh liked en was or friends. wha unna kin kot unnastan bout that? Unna is really fool fool.

  13. What real Men Do? says:

    Here’s some advice to all concerned instead to beating each other up with accusations in the media get together like real men and work this bullshit out like it, need to be done a long time ago. Come on guys you are better than that? The absence of dialogue is killing this little island No one is innocent but the Good Lord!

    • In the absence of public interest Mr Jackson would be in jail. Those with a vested financial interest have no desire to talk it out and achieve a settlement. You may as well ask a bank robber to put down his gun and get a real job.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps it is time that the common folks stop the elbow rubbing with the higher ups, elected members, board members etc and instead make them feel your disgust 24/7. In other words, shun them and stop sitting at the bar with them pretending that all is good!. THAT is what the problem is in Cayman! People don’t realize that all this favor given and taken over the years has created this culture of corruption…..But as my experience has been, people in Cayman don’t remember for long and pretend it is none of their business until it comes around smacking them in the face!

  15. Riding Dirty says:

    With the robust and awesome security we have now at the airport we still have time to smuggle humans and when last have you heard of a drug bust of a departing passenger all these secret handshake cronies incharge at ORIA The smuggling simple continues unabated especially when you have siblings employed who are involved with drug trafficking overseas. RIP Mike Ebanks only you knew the truth?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Would the idiot (troll?) clicking the troll button on these comments please note that we are not impressed – in fact it just proves how steeped in corruption this issue is.

  17. Michel says:

    Keep your head high Jeremy, Karma soon come.

    • Wild Apache says:

      Your so right Michel especially those who were backing news to the Auditor General to cover up their very own misdealings and dirt at the ORIA what a pity we will never learn the truth about what was really going on because the hard drives containing evidence were hand back to our resident porn king and disciple of those now incharge.

  18. Just Watchin says:

    How disgusting!
    And the key people behind this strut around Cayman pretending to be such upright citizens with the country’s interest at heart – XXXXXXX
    And of course, the Hon Self Importance, our Premier, claims there is no corruption in Cayman to speak of; absolutely none.
    I’m looking forward to hearing his statement this morning when the LA resumes about the alleged improprieties of a sitting member of his party, Ms Julie. I’m sure he is going to clear that all up so the Cayman Reporter can get another item for their ‘Top News’ section that is complimentary to him. They’ve kept the story “Premier defends Cayman’s Honour” for almost 3mos now.
    I’m sure he didn’t TELL them that they had to in order to get the Gov’t business; they just learned quickly how much he loves to have his huge ego stroked.
    I want to hear your statement Mr Premier. I know you are not starved for words.

    • Anonymous says:

      So now were blaming XXXXX that took place years ago at the CIAA and is now coming to light and XXXXXX that took place years ago by a member of the udp and is now coming to light on our current premier. Well i’ll be… boy some a wus dum.

  19. Ambassador of Absurdistan says:

    Corruption is systemic in the Caymans. UDP and PPM do not have the foggiest clue what constitutes a conflict of interests it happens on every government appointed board and every major decision. The worst thing an individual can do is ask questions, point out conflicts and unethical behavior by the select few who think the Caymans belong them.

    Will things ever change or is it just another day in Absurdistan?

  20. Joe B says:

    So steeped in corruption that is shared by all involved that the only way to stop it would be to fire everyone and start all over. Or act like its just business as normal which it is for Cayman.

  21. Flies Down says:

    Looks like more screwing has been going on at ORIA than in the Cayman27 news report on that bar down Dump Road!

  22. Anonymous says:

    And the Premier claims there’s no culture of corruption in these islands? I’m not sure about Cayman Islands law but in both the UK and the USA using any public position to ensure that a business you own (or is run by family and friends) gets favourable treatment is a criminal offence. Hopefully, this will result in another RCIPS investigation but I’m not holding my breath on that.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Stand tall as always Jeremy. What a crying shame this is what Caymanians have to go through to get by, not to mention stay out of jail, in their own country. It certainly doesn’t make ot any easier when it is our own fighting against us. What a mess this country is in.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Unbelievable. No corruption here. Let’s move on.

  25. Another Dave in Paradise says:

    Looks like yet another example of “badness as usual” in the incorruptible Cayman Islands…….

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