Royal gong for businessman, CIFA auditor gets local badge

| 10/06/2016 | 33 Comments
Cayman News Service

Charles Wesley Watler

(CNS): Local business man Charles Wesley Watler has been awarded an MBE for services to the community for the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations this Saturday. Described as the “Father of the Immigration Board”, Watler donated countless hours of personal time over the years to meeting the islands’ growing labour needs, officials said, while also pursuing training and development for Caymanians. Philip Agustus Rankin will receive the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour for services to the financial sector and to Cayman Airways.

A local auditor, Rankin sits on the CAL board but he hit the news headlines this year as the auditor of CIFA when he announced “unsubstantiated and suspicious transactions” at the association, where he has audited the books for several years.

The men’s awards will be announced at the formal celebrations outside the LA tomorrow, which, will be followed by a free garden party at Government House.

Biographies supplied by GIS

Charles Wesley Watler, MBE:

The youngest of 11 siblings from a pioneering Cayman Islands family, Mr. Charles Wesley Watler, JP, (73) is this year’s sole recipient of Birthday Honours from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Acknowledged for his contributions to the Cayman Islands community, Watler, will become a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). Perhaps his most famous role was as the “Father of the Immigration Board”, where he donated countless hours of personal time over the years to meeting the Islands’ growing labour needs whilst also pursuing training and development for Caymanians.  Watler credits his commitment to community service to observing from a young age the profound kindness of his mother, Jane Catherine Watler (nee Bodden).

He also acknowledges the significant impact that his farming background had on him. “Farming was part of our culture and upbringing. It contributed to a strong work ethic and resilience which is indicative of our Caymanian heritage,” he said.

After graduating first in his class at the Cayman Islands High School (CIHS), he relocated to Port Arthur, Texas to pursue further studies, returning as an accountant.

His first employer Cable and Wireless (C&W) grew to be one of the largest companies in the Islands. During 19 years of service there he achieved the rank of manager before leaving to run a family business. He then went on to set up his own real estate and development company, building condos, apartments and development projects.            While at C&W, he was in charge of training and here he found his calling. He helped set up a system to scout top students each year from the public high school, as candidates for summer internship positions and eventual full-time jobs at the telecoms provider

For those Caymanians already employed by the company, he sought out technical, engineering and managerial training opportunities, whether at corporate training facilities in other Caribbean countries, Europe, or other educational institutions overseas. A number of Caymanians who benefited from that early training progressed within the firm and hold high positions today. Recognising his aptitude in this area, Government named him a member of the Caymanian Protection Board in 1976, and he retained his membership for a number of years when it became the Immigration Board.

Here, he once again concentrated on getting Caymanians into local businesses, corporations and firms. He also reached out to corporate entities to launch training and apprenticeship programmes. In addition, he sought and obtained from large businesses, scholarships for bright young Caymanians, particularly those in accountancy, his field of specialisation.

Watler thanks those expatriate-led companies that provided scholarships, education and training, and who understood the merits of a well-trained pool of Caymanian staff. Young people also benefited from his good will in many other ways. Realising government high school graduates needed help passing their SAT entrance exams to get into reputable universities in the United States, he raised funds to set up a tutoring programme and purchase tutorial materials. This was also accompanied by various donations to the high school such as ham radios, the use of which helped prepare students to join companies like C&W.

His focus on developing talent also extended to the incarcerated population, where he helped to train prisoners in trades such as electrical work. These courses were conducted at his request by private companies. He also raised $14,500, to purchase 13 computers and set up a computer club in the prison and provided a tutor free of charge for over two months. He fondly remembers one released prisoner coming to tell him that he had successfully completed a trade course, and was now gainfully employed.

Other boards to which he has contributed over the years include: Cayman Airways, CINICO, Housing Development Corporation, Health Services Authority, and Prison Inspection. A Justice of the Peace he has served as a Juvenile Court magistrate, and was a natural choice to head the “Education and Training” group during the Vision 2008 strategic planning exercise.

A big blow to him was the passing in 2014 of his beloved wife Jacqueline, a first generation Scandinavian American from New York. They shared 45 years together as well as five children and 10 grandchildren. “Jacqueline was a great influence on my life,” he comments. “Her kindness, optimism and dedication to family, as well as consideration for other people at work and at church where she helped with the youth, greatly assisted me in my fundraising and efforts to provide training for others. Family mattered so much to her that she never hesitated to give them all her time, especially catering to our children when they were pursuing their education.”

He says the love and support of his family, as well as his love of helping others, have helped him to carry on since her loss. As an example he cites an incident days after his wife passed. While out on a walk with his son, they stopped at the Frances Bodden Girls Home where he learnt they needed to repair their stove and immediately called an electrician to do the necessary work.  Another comfort has been his work with his church, where he has been an elder for 34 years, served as secretary for 33 years, and periodically as treasurer.

In addition to time, service and money, Watler has also made generous donations of land to the community. These include land for the Governor Gore Bird Sanctuary in Spotts and land for the Agriculture Pavilion which is named after his brother Stacey.  He saw the need for a safe play area for the young children of his church.  So, he paid for a fence which enclosed a play yard, donated a swing set, tables, and benches, and named it in memory of his mother.  He also raised funds and donated a basketball court for the youth, which has increased youth attendance on Friday evenings. Watler has given back to the community in many other ways, all of which could not be listed here.  He notes, however, that this could not have been achieved without the hard work and support of his wife, Jacqueline, by his side.

His advice to today’s young people: “Pursue your education as far as possible. Even adversity makes you learn. And learn to be self-confident.”

Cayman News Service

Philip Rankin

Philip Agustus Rankin CERT. HON

A blend of Caymanian enterprise, ambition and community-mindedness has earned Philip Agustus Rankin, a financial services leader, the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour. This award has been bestowed for his services to the financial services industry, and in particular to the Board of Cayman Airways (CAL). Reflecting back to 2009 when he joined CAL as Chairman of Financial Matters, he said, “It was evident that there was much to be done. CAL had been operating with significant deficits each year resulting in severe cash flow shortages, growing debt (formal and informal) and mounting payables.”

Having served as a Director since 2009, and from 2012 as CAL’s Chairman of the Board of Directors (an unpaid position), he is especially proud of the strides the Board has made to right the finances and the future outlook of the national airline. Through definitive planning and innovative fiscal strategies, the airline’s situation is now vastly different from that of even 2010 – when its losses were over $12 million.  After managing to practically break-even in 2014, the next year’s audited financials showed a profit of $3.6 million, the airline’s largest (if not its first) in its 48 year history.

Now, the airline is poised to end its 2016 fiscal year this month with further profits of approximately $4.6 million. Notably, CAL is also this month releasing a Request for Proposals which will allow the lease of four new 737-800 Boeing Max aircrafts, which will open airway possibilities from the Cayman Islands to Brazil, to as far as the west coast of the United States (US), and most regions of Canada.

Rankin added that, “In addition to possible new routes, being in a position to negotiate very favourable leases will increase CAL’s seating capacity, save around 30 percent in fuel costs, and significantly reduce operating expenses.” All this from a “George Town boy”, who worked hard and took advantage of available opportunities.  His choice to give-back by leading CAL is a crowning achievement of his career, and one which he says is “a natural return, since the Cayman Islands afforded me so many professional opportunities”.

Asked why the public hears so little of this and his other work, Rankin asserts “I’m too busy for publicity”. In addition to being committed “24-7” to CAL, and his full-time private enterprise, his other major community service has been sharing his decades of expertise with local university students, lecturing at International College of the Cayman Islands (ICCI) for over six years on the principles of finance.

His early years were spent in private sector finance at Deloitte & Touche, which took him on as a teenager. In his 14 years there, he became senior manager in the audit and assurance division, servicing areas as diverse as captive insurance, hedge and mutual funds, banking, trusts and shipping. A member of the Cayman Islands Directors Association, he has also had a private practice for many years now, as co-founder and managing partner/director of Rankin Berkower (Cayman) Ltd.  His work as a Chief Finance Officer has seen him amass prominent clients from major finance centres throughout the United States, and in countries as far afield as Asia.

The fifth of eight children from a working-class George Town family, Rankin graduated from high school with honours in 1975. He would eventually become the fifth Caymanian to qualify as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

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Comments (33)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    CONGRATULATIONS Charlie and Philip!!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Who are these people? Yawn

    • Caymanian 365 says:

      If you don’t know who they are then you shouldn’t be commenting about them! Find something constructive to do instead of posting stupid comments.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Charlie Watler. Really?

    • BT Election Committee says:

      Well we lost Uncle Tony. We need elders onside. Quick!

    • Caymanian 365 says:

      What do you know about Mr Charlie to say “really”? Let me guess you are a Caymanian that has never bothered to find out the personal sacrifices people like Mr Charlie made to help Cayman get to where it is today, or you are a non-local who knows nothing about Cayman but like to just make negative comments about Caymanians? Mr Charlie has done a lot, and fairly, for Caymanians and expatriates just the same over the years! So take your “really” and go educate yourself instead of trying to tarnish people’s reputation.

  4. Allar says:

    Chris Johnson seems to have lots to contribute so my suggestions is put him in charge of some of these audits. He is a CPA I am told

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with Allar. Chris Johnson is a well respected CPA with an unblemished character. I have the utmost respect for this gentleman.

      • Anonymous says:

        Mr Johnson is an FCA, globally recognized as the highest level of qualification in the field of accountancy – which only adds endorsemennt to your and Allar’s proposal

        • Anonymous says:

          But…gasp…..horror….bring the smelling salts…..he’s not a generational Caymanian. What would Ezzard and Arden say, 1:12?

  5. Anonymous says:

    It appears that Rankin has a lot to answer as auditor of CIFA books for several years. The real question is, will answers be forthcoming? I guess we have to wait and see. On the other hand, why were no audible alarms, with respect to possible suspicious activity, raised over the years?

    • Chris Johnson says:

      I can answer that quite simply. XXXXX
      There was clearly a total lack of control over the accounting records and system. Blake must bear the brunt of this being both a CPA and a lawyer.
      However the watchdog, the auditors failed miserably in their duties. None of the three firms bothered to investigate the true cost of the Newlands pitch and building. Nor did they investigate the CIFA goal grants. The first sent to Black Holdings Ltd., a non licensed Cayman company together with Roy Campbell Contruction was sent in 2002, several years before the pitch and clubhouse were commenced. From memory it was about $450,000 and has never been accounted for. The bizarre thing about this is that it was a matter of public record on the FIFA website.
      One grant sent to Economy Builders was to build a second pitch however the pitch was never built.
      I could go on and on but the clubs who are the people that vote in its members do not care a hoot. I have done a full and comprehensive investigation spending many hours. Even the Compass do not wish to publish my report..
      All very sad as only Cayman football and the kids suffer.
      Surely someone out there has the strength of character to sort this mess out. Lee Ramoon alone stands no chance whilst the bad eggs remain on the committee. Nor should government give further fund to CIFA until they have gone.
      Finally it is interesting that today KPMG resigned as the auditors of FIFA. This example needs to be followed by the auditors of CIFA. Their are some rally good audit firms in Cayman that night help. After all the last audit was at December 31 2014 almost eighteen months ago.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks Chris for this very informative response. Your comments, as always, are very constructive.

      • Anonymous says:

        I wish someone would have looked into the Cayman Islands Amateur Athletics Association some years back when it was run by a dodgy lady as boss and her cousin as Secretary/treasurer. Freebies all over the world “representing Cayman” while others did her job for her and no one said anything because we were all afraid of the “born Caymanian/you’re being a racist” thing.

      • Anonymous says:

        Budget of $2,376,782 was ear-marked for CIFA Football Pitch from FIFA with $2,227,600 paid to XXXXXX so-called contractor/friendly recipients for “Centre of Excellence” over five known periods:

        5. Edel Grass BV = $595,000 (2014) <– finally a real contractor!
        4. Economy Builders = $364,600 (2011) <– for a second pitch never built!
        3. Black Holding Ltd./ Roy Campbell & Sons Constr. Ltd. = $406,000 (2009)
        2. Black Holding Ltd./ Roy Campbell & Sons Constr. Ltd. = $412,000 (2008)
        1. Black Holding Ltd./ Roy Campbell & Sons Constr. Ltd. = $450,000 (2002)

        • Chris Johnson says:

          Well summarized. This information has been on the FIFA website for years. In reading the audited financial statements of CIFA going back to 2002 there is no note on these grants nor are there any notes on related party transactions. Maybe the fourth audit firm might spot some of the many red flags.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Roy Campbell & Sons was founded by the late father of CIFA’s former vice president, Peter Campbell. However, Campbell did not become the association’s vice-president until 2009 and refutes any suggestions of conflict.” If auditors are looking at Roy Campbell Construction Ltd, they should also inspect related companies “Blue Skies Investments Ltd” and “Green Holdings Ltd”.

    • Anonymous says:

      Rankin is a PPM man all the way. Does a lot of work in the Brac with a certain politician. If you get my drift.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Mr Watler is an honourable man, and as a beneficiary of his initiatives I can say that many benefited from his training and fundraising throughout the years.

  7. Anonymous says:

    you two that comment such ignorant sh*t when you have no real information about facts! i am going to go out on a limb here i assume the both of you are deadbeat and havent accomplish sh*t in your life that being said i completely assume you are an wanna be statesmen who dont have jobs so your only trick is the convince the uneducated caymanians that your the right fit for the smh you are fooling noone my frenz

  8. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like someone doesn’t like Mr. Rankin..Typical Caymanians! Can’t even raise up one of our own in celebration of their achievements..instead the crabs in a barrel mentality continues to hold strong..

    We are a country divided. What we don’t realize is that it is us, the Caymanians, that are divided..

    • SKEPTICAL says:

      Whoever you are and no matter what you have achieved – you are only as good as your last mistake – there are no “quid pro quo’s” in the real World.

  9. Anonymous says:

    It seems honoree Rankin might have some questions to answer. If indeed millions of dollars were stolen from, and/or laundered, through CIFA, it seems likely it was on his watch as auditor.

  10. Diogenes says:

    How to make a $4 million profit at CAL. Start off with a $24 million handout from CIG.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Why did it take the CIFA auditor so many years to spot what had been going on with their funds…..

    • Chris Johnson says:

      The real question is how did three local audit firms miss the $2m fraud as regards the pitch and clubhouse? Did any of the audit firms look at Economy Builders that FIFA gave a lot of money to build the second pitch? Oops no relation I guess. How did Rankin conclude that the cost of the 1500 square foot clubhouse was $500 per square feet when the planning application stated $168,000 in total. By my estimates about $2m went missing at Newlands. What a funny old world we live in.

      • M McLaughlin says:

        Thank you Mr. Johnson, allow me to say what you should have said. Mr. Rankin’s brother is the owner of Economy Builders.

        • Anonymous says:

          Christ, say it isn’t so. Don’t they vet these awards? have we learned nothing from Jimmy Saville?

        • Anonymous says:

          “Contacted by the Journal, Eldon Rankin of Economy Builders said he could not remember if the 2011 project had been advertised. He said he had a signed contract from FIFA and had done a lot of work to rid the site of muck and fill parts of the site.”

    • Anonymous says:

      Only in Cayman, considering that the other guy whose books he was supposed to be watching is a former YCLA recipient and is now serving 7 yrs behind bars for corruption should tell you how low we set the bars around here for public recognition.

      • Caymanian 365 says:

        Only in Cayman – really? I guess you must be one of those small minded people who don’t watch world news. No way am I giving Philip a pass here but when he was selected to be given the Certificate of Badge and Honour you should have said something and not wait until after to go on CNS to make your comments. If you really want to hold people and the government accountable form watchdog committees, support people like Alva Suckoo and Theresa Pitcairn who CARE and have integrity when it comes to our country. But no, majority of people don’t want to get their hands dirty and do the hard work to bring about change or to offend anyone. I can hear the frustration in Alva’s voice when he is on the radio trying to explain how he is trying to help our country, and Jonathan Piercy as well. The same thing Theresa has and is still being put through.

        Educated Caymanians who also have common sense and try to make Cayman better are always ridiculed, ignored, bashed and labeled as trouble makers or anti-expatriate which is not true at all. They know there has to be a balance in order for Cayman to be a “healthy” environment for not only Caymanians but people who bring their expertise to build and maintain our economy, and for the investors who choose Cayman.

        Mr Chris Johnson, I commend you for being so open and sharing what you know and you are right it is the kids who have and will suffer because of their greed. Cayman is my home and it gives me no pleasure to say that if you were a born Caymanian, you would have been ridiculed, not praised. Thanks for putting yourself out there.

    • Anonymous says:

      I wonder why.

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