LLB doctored minutes in ‘Peanuts’ fiasco

| 28/09/2017 | 116 Comments
Cayman News Service

Peanuts Rubis gas station in Red Bay

(CNS): The former Liquor Licensing Board (LLB), chaired by Woody DaCosta, doctored the minutes of a March board meeting, made up policy and took decisions outside its remit, but government officials nevertheless concluded the members at the time acted in good faith regarding a disputed booze licence for a gas station. An internal audit on the issue, released by government Wednesday, found that the “board erred in their approach and subsequent rationale for their decisions” when official records were changed and they tried to introduce a new policy regarding a retail licence for Peanuts gas station.

For months, allegations of wrongdoing, mismanagement, cover-ups and confusion have surrounded a decision to allow the relatively new gas station in Red Bay, owned by Angel and Gary Rutty, to sell liquor after two sets of minutes found their way into the public domain, one granting the licence and one refusing it. As a result, Commerce Minister Joey Hew and Deputy Governor Franz Manderson called for the internal audit. 

The audit found that under the chairmanship of DaCosta, the board appears to have realised soon after the March meeting that their decision to grant Peanuts permission to sell alcohol on Sundays was wrong. But instead of convening a new transparent meeting to explain the situation and formally change the decision, the board chair directed a clumsy cover-up and made up a policy to try and justify the error.

The report stated clearly that the board “proceeded to change the official records and introduce a new policy which was not within their purview”. Despite the findings of clear wrongdoing, the government internal auditors insisted that the board acted in good faith.

The auditors conclude that the LLB failed in their approach, took inappropriate actions and had developed “an interpretation of the Liquor Licensing Law (2016 Revision) which was outside their remit”.

The auditors made six recommendations, which they said would “result in enhanced public transparency, governance and operational improvements and mitigate the chances of a similar situation from reoccurring”.

Among the recommendation for the new board, under the chairmanship of Noel Williams, the auditors stated that it must now take further action to address the Peanuts application and either revoke the licence or issue one under the law.

After it was discovered that the long-serving board secretary had been transferred, a side allegation emerged about the entire fiasco: that DaCosta and government officials had tried to blame her for the mistakes and cover-up. The auditors also examined this question and found that the process to move the board secretary had begun long before the March meeting that began the Peanuts saga and was completely unrelated.

In a release about the audit, the deputy governor said, “The report takes forward our commitment to maintaining good governance and transparency in our dealings.”

Minister Hew stated that he had confidence in the newly trained board. “I am confident that the board’s business is in capable hands and trust that, going forward, the day-to-day business as well as the inevitable challenges which may arise will be handled competently.”

There was no indication that there will be any significant consequences for the former chair regarding the doctoring of official documents or making up policies. Although the audit has been made public, according to the chain of events documented by the government officials, several documents and correspondence relating to the entire proceedings have not been released, raising questions about the claims of transparency. 

See the Internal Audit Report in the CNS Library

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Comments (116)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is what happens when certain Ministers feel so sure they will be re-elected and their family members flaunt the law and the rules because they feel there will be no consequences, then the bottom falls out on election day and lo and behold everyone gets caught with their pants down. Woody needs to talk but he wont, he spends too much time on big bro in-laws gravy train

  2. Anonymous says:

    Unna wait until Alden get back from his European Escapades….. this will be another board that further changes will be made. Its a real disgrace what happened in this case and not only woody dacosta should have been removed from the LLB. Franz…. Joey… its time to make some changes here… whether or not the report stated the board acted in good faith or not.

    • James B. says:

      Anybody care to explain how or why the Manager of the Kimton Seafire Hotel was granted a Package license last December with opening hours of 7am to 10pm seven days a week???????

  3. Anonymous says:

    So administrative dishonesty is Ok? Must be a cultural thing. Apparently. What else is doctoring official documents?

  4. West bay Premier says:

    I wonder if there were not change of mind by both parties. Sometimes that kind of thing happens.

    Just yesterday here in the US these two criminals went and robbed a store and very shortly after one killed the other one .

  5. BELONGER says:

    A F&%^ up, A Screw up whatever you want to call it, but it would be difficult to prove an actual case of corruption against the LLB if you can’t prove that a “reward or gain for oneself or another” was part of the equation.

    • Jitnar says:

      Even if there is the absence of a gain for oneself or other, changing the record of what actually transpired seems to go well beyond an accident or mistake. And that’s even if you think the manipulation of the records and change in the decision is simply covering up or correcting an error.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Reward or gain” – is that a subtle hint

    • Anonymous says:

      What about a Minister being afraid to lose church votes ? Would that count as corruption ?

  6. Anonymous says:

    How about pedro castle? Yacht club gas station. Camana bay wine company? It should be same rules of play for everyone. And whats this law with buying a case not a 6 pack of beer? So you dont want me to get drunk on sunday but you allow these places to open but i have to buy a full case? Thats going to help me stay less drunk than buying a couple of beers?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Pants on fire. All of them ablaze.

    • Teddy Heath says:

      The actions of the board are simply criminal by their intent and further represent actions of failure to discharge their public duty of responsibility.

      There are senior Government employees and a senior bank employee on this board, who are placed in significant positions of public and corporate trust, for which they are well remunerated and where they also must follow established procedures, guidelines and government standards of operating procedure and accountability as set forth (and where they are responsible to hold others within their departments to this standard).
      If this happens on a public board, do not their very actions of silence, incriminate and also support the intent and actions that occurred?

      How can they continue in their positions of employment within the government and corporate structures where even greater levels of public trust, finances and accountability are involved?

      The Governor as the representative of the Queen and her majesties government, must act now, and hold the Queens employees to the high standards that the English constitution claim, to not only represent, but to enforce through the colonial governance model system in which they place so much importance and in which they rejoice with positioning themselves on the moral high ground. This is the role of the governor General. Not the previous position of meddling in local business decisions with a diluted sense of propriety, but actively ensuring that governance is conducted to the highest standard of moral and ethical standard possible.

      The chairman of the board, appears to have manipulated and falsified documents and standardized proceedings of a public meeting, that has broken the public trust and laws of Cayman, can this not be deemed but an action and intent of a criminal nature?

      Just what will the authorities do about this?

  8. Anonymous says:

    “They acted in good faith”…Well we should let the court decide. Peanut, you stated previously that your estimate in revenue losses since the (unjust) revocation of your LL is approximately 100K… Go to civil court!

  9. Anonymous says:

    It’s gonna be business as usual. A big hoopla for a couple of days then everything will fizzle away with no consequences to anyone whatsoever……

  10. Anonymous says:

    Sad day for Cayman when we are happier for a liquor store to open on a Sunday rather than a supermarket or a hardware store. I guess it’s better to be drunk than cook some food or find some work to do.

    • Anonymous says:

      Given the state of affairs of this Country today some would argue yes, it’s better to get drunk on Sunday than say, go to church.

      Let people decide for themselves what they want to do with their money and their time.

      On another note, It is a disgrace what they have done to Gary Rutty and the mess they made, the Board! All involved should be removed and replaced immediately. What a shame I say, that Caymanians are still fighting down one-another.

  11. Anonymous says:

    How can a board commit forgery and act illegally “in good faith”?

  12. Liquor gate. says:

    This so sad and we wonder why the expats come here and get rich. We are our own demise.

  13. ABC says:

    I do not understand. Was it approved and then Woody and his members withdraw it and create new minutes to say that it is ‘Not Aprroved?’ I am lost. What really happened and how was it exposed? Please explain it to me in a A B C format.

    • Anonymous says:

      Everybody except you and the lost reporters on Cayman 27 seem to understand. Woody and his board made a decision to grant Peanuts a license to sell alcohol on Sunday’s after notifying him and before granting him the license they changed thier mind for some reason or Woody changed his mind. They then created a policy and changed the minutes of the meeting to say that the license was refused. They don’t have the legal power to create policy and the minutes of a meeting is expected to be what occurred at the meeting. However the audit found that while they acted inappropriately on many occasions they acted in good faith.

      • Jotnar says:

        The last sentence being what no ordinary person can understand- changing minutes to say one thing happened when you something else did and still acting in good faith.

    • BELONGER says:

      I think it was approved by all members of the board and was published shortly afterwards by the secretary. (not her fault) Following this, the board then became aware of their error in law, and they as a board or the Chairman by himself, tried to correct it, but not by the best of means. This action later caused an thunderous explosion.

      • Anonymous says:

        There was no finding of an error in law, it was a change of mind by the board. That is why the report says that they need to issue the license or revoke the license. There have been some “so called authorities” who have claimed that it was illegal but not according to the law. In fact this morning in liquor licensing board hearing one of those who has publicly stated that it was illegal has not acknowledged that he will be applying for retail licenses for his locations as well.

      • Anonymous says:

        Who determined that granting it was an error in law. No where in the report does it suggest that. If that is the case why did the board recommend that other applicants who want to sell on Sunday apply for a retail liquor license as well. As I understand it there was a policy by the board that said retail licenses were not for convenience stores but the law does not prohibit it. Hence the reason for the illegally created policy to justify the refusal. If it was against the law they would have used the law as a reason and not have to attempt to create a policy. You people really need to read the report.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It’s refreshing to see no expat bashing on this post about incompetence and corruption. That is a rare thing on CNS. So how can that be? Oh, I get it. The whole fiasco is caused by people who are born Caymanians appointed by, shall I repeat that, born Caymanians so no chance of blaming the Jamaicans, Filipinos or the colonial masters holding us down in suppression. Any comment Whodatis, Mr Steve McField, Mr Orrett Connor?? Oh, and Whodatis, no bother with the Chagos thing, we know all that, old news.

    • Anonymous says:

      Zuss kryste, I just stay on your mind, huh?

      1. I haven’t referenced the racist British government’s sanctioned and orchestrated dispossession of the Chagos Islanders for ages now.
      (Nevertheless, it remains the main bone of contention for you and your friends as it concerns Whodatis.)

      2. You have placed me in some fine company.
      Give me a Steve McField and Orrett Connor over a Tony “War-Criminal-come-Oil-Chairman” Blair or Donald K.K.K. Trump any day. (Although, I am sure in your biased book a “sacred vessel” trumps both in terms of scandals.)

      3. Lastly, and most importantly, I always stress the importance of Caymanians to do for self and reject the self-harming symptoms of colonial conditioning.
      Never do I “blame” others for matters that we are currently able to address ourselves, constitutionally or otherwise.

      (Therein actually lies your beef with Whodatis and the other mentioned gentlemen. If there is one thing a m’fer like you cannot STAND – it is an uppity n*gg*r.)

      – Whodatis

      *I am guessing you and “Führer Orange” would make excellent drinking buddies.

      • Anonymous says:

        I would just say nasty and uppity. Only a racist would use the N word.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yeah, you’d stick to doing so in the safe confines of your; home, car, child’s grandpa’s den, brother-in-law’s boat, etc…you know, as the majority does as well.


    • Suspected Caymanian X says:

      Just who you think these born Caymanians are but Plantation bosses propped up by the Colonial power to control us natives hows that Jim Crow. I have been oppressed since the emacipation Act 1833 and still being oppressed by the Man!

      • Jotnar says:

        You have been oppressed since 1833? Assume not you personally, but quite apart from the hubris of appointing yourself as the personal representative of all slave descendants, surely there was a hell of a lot more oppression prior to 1833?

  15. Anonymous says:

    I’ve missed what is possibly the most important issue – where do I now buy my booze on a Sunday given it’s not safe to go to my local bar Da Station anymore?!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Its important to remember that there are some high ranking members of the Liquor Licensing Board who are very senior civil servants namely the Director of Planning and the Director of Environmental Health. Did they not know that changing minutes was wrong, God forbid that they could get to the positions that they hold without knowing right from wrong.

    • Anonymous says:

      So true! Will the DG hold them accountable or will this just slide by as so many other issues??

  17. Anonymous says:

    They acted in “Good Faith” also when they(used loosely) gave Canova Watson all that money for “Carepay” and no one was found responsible.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Peanut and his lawyers should be smiling all the way to “Las Tortugas”, it shows its much more important to know and understand the law then to think you are the authority on the law just because you own a few liquor stores. I bet that some of those same objectors are now going to be applying for “retail license’s” since they have been shown how the law works.

  19. Anonymous says:

    A McField or Ramoon wouldn’t be extended such privileges and favours.

  20. SSM345 says:

    Bet you this has happened with many decisions made by “Boards” over the years not matter what they approve.

    • Anonymous says:

      Absolutely correct and that’s the worrying thing. If this kind of thing happened on the LLB I shudder to think what some of the other boards are getting up to.

      I remember a few years ago there were allegations that at least one senior figure on the XXX was acting inappropriately and failing to declare conflicts of interests. They were accused of using the position to the advantage of their business clients and to the disadvantage of those clients’ competitors. Admittedly this was never substantiated but that was mainly because nobody could get access to the minutes of the XXX meetings.

      CNS: You should be able to FOI those minutes.

      • Anonymous says:

        CNS, there was no FOI back then but if you want to follow this up we’re looking at 2006/7. The main subject of the complaint has now left the board anyway – she unsucessfully tried for a seat on the LA.

    • Anonymous says:

      It was rumoured that changes was being made to Immigration decisions but from certain staff not the Board members.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Tomorrow’s talk show should be interesting

  22. Anonymous says:

    Shame on you Woody. Resign from the Port Authority Board quick.

    Thank you Hew and Manderson for ordering this audit. Not long ago this kind of fisaco would have been ignored.

    • Pure Bollocks says:

      Apparently the board acted in good faith which is contrary to the facts and other findings in the report. This is an embarrassment to the principle of good governance and administrative law. They should all be investigated by the anti-corruption unit including all the board members and DCI management. Mr. Hew refused to discuss the findings on rooster FM this morning. Ask yourself why? This is another cover up because of politics and political support for the party who placed those members on the board who were ultimately caught out for XXXX inventing policies to cover their tracks while purporting to act in good faith. Bollocks

  23. Anonymous says:

    ” In good faith ” my arse. They tried to cover up their initial incompetence, because they did not want to admit their stupidity. It is ” cover ups ” that prove far more damning than the original crime/error.

  24. Anonymous says:

    So… no booze on Sunday then?

    • Anonymous says:

      Speak for yourself. Im getting shitfaced just like every other Sunday. I feel sorry for all those poor fools wasting their day away in church.

    • Anonymous says:

      it says the license was granted so doesn’t that mean Booze on Sunday?!?!?!?!?!

  25. Tricky Dicky says:

    Peanutgate is a massive scandal.

    Reading between the lines one might reasonably deduce:

    1. The application and licence were approved and all was right in the world of politricks and business.
    2. The church people were upset and complained to the Governor.
    3. The politicians got worried with election season coming.
    4. Then [REDACTED].

    The audit is a transparent attempt to sweep the whole affair under the carpet. Hopefully the Press will keep digging, the truth will come out and those responsible will be exposed and dealt with under the law.

    On a related matter, what happened with all the other gas station licence applications submitted around the same time by various other applicants?

    • Anonymous says:

      Jose’s selling beer.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the answer to your last question based on my own observation drives a horse and carriage through your earlier speculation.

      If a number of other gas stations have licenses issued to them during the same period then whatever happened with the Peanuts application couldn’t have been because of the Governor’s letter or any political pressure from the churches.

      It makes a nonsense of your speculation.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Extra-legal “policies” that are made up and changed on the spot? That’s business as usual for Cayman boards, especially Immigration!

    But it’s good to know it’s “outside their remit”.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Please remember these events when this two time PPM candidate decides to stand for election to represent his people in WestBay!

  28. Anonymous says:


  29. Anonymous says:

    Hey, C.I. Government! The people can really smell your BS and are starting to get sick of the stench really quickly!

  30. Anonymous says:

    Should scrutinize the other Government Boards Woody sits on. Be very interesting.

  31. Anonymous says:

    “Doctoring” public Board minutes and instructing Board Secretaries to record only certain specifics is nothing new. This malpractice has existed for decades, due to the general arrogance of members of public boards, especially some Chairpersons. As a Board Secretary and in other roles in my career in the public service I was personally exposed to such behaviour on more than one occasion. Happy that it’s now coming to light because, there was/is no protection for “whistleblowing”, therefore persons like myself just bit our lips and followed instructions in order to protect our careers.

    Eventually I advanced to a more senior position and challenged similar actions. I retired from the public service a few months after exposing myself in this way. Out of the sewer!!

    • Anonymous says:

      My understanding is that this is the same reason why the Secretary of this Board had to move on. She was considered a threat and treated unfairly by her superiors because she spoke out on many wrongdoings and errors. Obviously, everything is coming to light now.

      • Anonymous says:

        And more needs to be revealed according to the stories I hear. To hear this man on tv bashing the secretay about breach of standing orders and other crap when he was the one that failed to cooperate with the audit team makes him look like an idiot. He’s worried about his reputation getting tarnished but didnt give a damn about ruining this lady’s,

    • Anonymous says:

      The same how some of CIG panels “doctor” panel reports to ensure their friends and cronies are hired. I also retired from a senior position after being bullied because I refused to change my panel report and made others aware that that they were changing the scoring to ensure who they wanted to hire was hired.

  32. Anonymous says:

    govt got to pay up! lawsuit coming!

  33. Anonymous says:

    I think a public apology should be issued by all who threw the former Secretary of the board under the bus for this cover up. I can see now why she had to get away from all of these dishonest people. Who knows how much more doctoring of documents went unnoticed?Interesting to see if any names of those who were involved in the alerations will come out in the papers now. Most likely not. As a poster said earlier, it’s a shame how we treat our own people.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Will the Anti-Corruption Commission and Governor Kilpatrick now care to investigate this matter in the public interests?

  35. Anonymous says:

    In just one fell swoop, Hew and the Internal Auditors have lost all credibility. We are now in the realms of Banana Republic government

  36. Anonymous says:

    What a whitewash!

  37. Anonymous says:

    An independent audit should have been conducted. Its a crying shame to read about what Chairmen did; we Caymanian’s really are our own worse enemies at times smh.

    Where is the ACC? No repercussions for creating a falsified document?? This sends the wrong message to citizens, youth in particular.

  38. Anonymous says:

    i told ya all…maybe some ancient astronaut theorist did it….civil servants are upstanding citizens

  39. Anonymous says:

    money and wealth talks…..here…but not at pearly gates…

  40. Anonymous says:

    lmfao ahahahahahahahaha

    “The report stated clearly that the board “proceeded to change the official records and introduce a new policy which was not within their purview”. Despite the findings of clear wrongdoing, the government internal auditors insisted that the board acted in good faith.”

  41. Revelations 3:45 says:

    The entire liquor board membership is now compromised and DCI are also compromised. They all must be removed and investigated. What they did was ultra vires of the law. Woody DaCosta alone cannot be the scape goat in this fiasco.

    [CNS note: The report is on a decision made by the old board. A new board and a new chairperson has since been appointed.]

    All the members agreed with the actions taken by voting for the decisions and supporting Chairman DaCosta. All were seemingly comfortable with the two sets of minutes that were maintained. How can this be considered normal and good governance by objective persons on a board. Power corrupts and happens too often in the Cayman Islands.

    Every member of the board is accountable and failed in their duties by creating their own policies and interpretation of laws to suit a political agenda. The question is who did Woody DaCosta and the board members get their instructions from?

    The law clearly states that policy comes from the cabinet. Therefore what made the board think and act like they had the authority to create policy and do whatever they felt like?

    • Anonymous says:

      Woody should speak up for himself. Come on woody who told you to do what you did? Not gonna happen and everybody knows why. Go ahead take the fall woody woodchuck.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just the tip of the ice berg, come see Planning soon…

    • Anonymous says:

      They wanted to change their mind and could not find a reason to refuse the Peanut’s license so they decided to create a policy “that each licensee could have one license”, supposedly that policy was the reason that they purported to refuse Peanut’s license. Sadly no one told them that they need to follow the law, they thought they could make it up as they went along. Apparently that only works when no one challenges you.

  42. Anonymous says:

    What a pile of cow manure! Cover up, and he is blabbering away every day on the radio and TV.

  43. Anonymous says:

    “The Fixers” will be nicked

  44. Anonymous says:

    Aren’t there legal issues to manipulating board minutes after the fact?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, there are and the secretariat of the board which is the Department of Commerce & Investment should be also be investigated. Woody shouldn’t be the only one take the licks. I recall that in the Compass the Director of that department clearly stated that the license was not approved.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are correct. In the corporate world where I work you would be fired!

  45. Anonymous says:

    Wayne Pantons empire is crumbling! I hope you see why Newlands rejected him. Woody is his brother in law.

    • Anonymous says:

      Say it ain’t so.!

    • Anonymous says:

      What a tangle web we weave when first we practice to deceive. It always comes back and bite you in the butt. Just give it a little time.

    • Anonymous says:

      You just couldn’t wait to get that out there…jeez, are you related to anyone who is more than a mortal like most of cayman is? Or is that your problem. Woody is responsible for his own mess. Wayne for his. Stop mixing the two.

    • Anonymous says:

      thought the were all church goers…..wow!

  46. Anonymous says:

    The Audit didn’t find that the decision to grant the License was wrong. That is the whole issue up until that point the board operated within the Law. They decided that they did not want Peanuts to sell liquor on Sunday even though the Law allows him to and then they tried to create a policy to justify changing their decision.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Weak and typical government response.

    “Despite the findings of clear wrongdoing, the government internal auditors insisted that the board acted in good faith.”

    The board lied and covered up their error. How is that acting in good faith? So is it OK to cover up and lie as long as it was done in good faith? And how do they defined “good faith?”. This is just a cliche that government is applying.

    This is not the only board guilty of such conduct and this and it will not be the last time this happens. Government can lie and cover up their mistakes all day long and there is not much the public can do about this. Thankfully the press got hold of this otherwise it would not have been exposed.

    This is still a cover up. They publish the audit report and leave out several documents? What is the point of publishing an incomplete report?

    As I said government can cover up their mistakes all day long and not much can be done about it.

  48. Anon says:

    “several documents and correspondence relating to the entire proceedings have not been released, raising questions about the claims of transparency.”

    If that isn’t a red flag, I don’t know what one is…

  49. Anonymous says:

    Jail time would be appropriate.

    • Anonymous says:

      Totally agree with you but this will probably be swept under the rug like many other wrongdoings that took place on that board over the past few years.

      • Anonymous says:

        Corruption in Cayman is institutionalized, politically driven, common place and happens on the majority of the politically appointed boards and within the civil service. At all levels.
        This latest example is the tip of the iceberg. There are no clean hands and it is obvious that members were complicit and following instructions.

  50. Anonymous says:

    That board brought to you by Wayne Panton and the PPM

    • Anonymous says:

      While I am not in support of selling alcohol at any gas stations on any day, I would suggest to Peanuts that they bring a law suit against the chsirman, the board and all the others who had a hand in it. This is really the level that this government and its supporters have sunk. What happened to all the dignity and honesty that they were spouting out on the campaign trail? It now looks like they have compromise all integrity. What really happened to them? Did the boogy man steal their brains, this is exactly who they really are or are they merely going through the motions for the next four years? Shameful. You do not blatantly change minutes of a meeting. Is the chairman really that stupid or did he think he could get away with it. Does Joey Hew even understand how serious this is. I must acknowledge the deputy Governor’s response by getting the audit done, but now someone should have to make restitution to Peanuts.

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