Port boss faces list of mismanagement accusations

| 07/05/2018 | 127 Comments
Port Authority of the Cayman Islands

George Town cargo port, Grand Cayman

(CNS): A damning report released by the auditor general has revealed a significant list of allegations against the director of the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands (PACI), ranging from mismanagement to potential fraud and corruption. Clement Reid is accused of breaching recruitment practices, spending over $130,000 decorating the port offices without approval, allowing staff to go on paid leave to work for the former opposition leader and of turning a blind eye to the theft of boat engines, among other revelations.

The findings are set out in an spin-off audit from the original financial review triggered by a catalog of accusations over what took place at PACI during 2016 and 2017. The redacted report was released by the Office of the Auditor General on Friday evening following a number of freedom of information requests fuelled by rumours over the last few months about the allegations of significant irregularities at the authority.

Despite emails that had been sent by PACI Board Director Errol Bush to quash internal rumours about the issues, saying that things were not serious, the report outlines a list of issues that expose the mismanagement of public funds and raise a number of questions about potential abuse of power and possible corruption.

The numerous accusations relating to the mismanagement of the recruitment process, including bias and favouritism, inflated salaries, excessive and unapproved spending on renovating offices, including the purchase of rugs and poufs, as well as the theft of boat engines, the release of a salvaged vessel to disputed owners and allowing a member of staff, on several occasions, to take more than 60 days paid leave to travel with McKeeva Bush.

The report outlines serious infractions regarding recruitment, where senior staff were appointed or promoted without jobs being advertised or the involvement of the human resources manager. The report found that regulations were not followed when it came to background checks, and medical and clearance certificates. Salaries were agreed with those given the jobs that were well above the advertised pay or exceeded the stated bands. In more than half a dozen cases involving recruitment and promotion decisions the laws were broken and internal codes breached, the audit report said.

The auditor general also outlined the granting of special paid leave to an unidentified member of staff who was given permission to go overseas on six separate trips between March 2016 and March 2017, for a total of 63 days, to assist McKeeva Bush, who was the opposition leader at the time, as his driver. The auditor found this contravened the authority’s own rules, as there is no provision to allow port staff to take paid leave to assist MLAs.

The report also reveals a jaw-dropping expenditure on soft furnishings at the port offices, which, according to the OAG, were not approved by the port board, as well as other major renovations at the port HQ. Almost CI$136,000 was spent on these upgrades, but the auditor said that there was no evidence of an outline business case, a tendering process or approval from the board, or that the expenditure was ever budgeted.

In a spending scandal akin to that plaguing some of the Trump administration’s Cabinet members, it appears the port director spent almost CI$31,000 on rugs, vases, poufs, lounge chairs and dining tables. The remaining cash was spent on upgrades to various offices and office furniture.

The audit review further suggests that the port management turned a blind eye to what was essentially the theft by some port staff of four boat engines worth around $6,000 that were taken from Harbour House Marine, where they were being stored awaiting disposal. The OAG found no official approval or authorisation for staff to have taken the engines but no action was taken by management about what the auditor general suggested was theft.

The audit also questioned the process surrounding a wrecked vessel that was released to a port employee even though a member of the public has also claimed ownership. Two separate but conflicting reports were made to authority from customs and the police over who had found the boat and, in the absence of an owner coming forward, who would have a right to claim it. The port director was accused of not following the correct procedure, bypassing the official channels for dealing with wrecks and signing it off to a person whose claim was in question.

The redacted report contains correspondence and various documentation to support the findings during the specialist audit but there is no management report or response from either the port director or the board of directors and its chair.

It is understood that the OAG had referred the issues to the Anti-Corruption Commission but sources told CNS that no action was taken by that body because the issues were dealt with under internal procedures, though the outcome of that has not been revealed.

CNS also understands that a response to the report does exist but was given directly to the authority’s board. We have requested that documentation and have also contacted the port director for comment and we are awaiting a response to both.

See the redacted report in the CNS Library

The list of PACI Board of Directors on the PACI website is out of date. The current membership is below:

Errol Bush Chairman
Arek Joseph Deputy Chairman
Robert Foster Member
Capt. Ashton Bodden Member
Jacqueline Scott-Rankine Member
Richard Parchment Member
Ken Thompson Member
Ministry of Finance Ex-officio Representative
HM Customs Ex-officio Representative
Ministry of DA, Tourism & Transport Ex-officio Representative

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Category: Government oversight, Politics

Comments (127)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Apparently this story continues to develop – some type of harassment allegations against a senior port staffer – CNS?

  2. TellUsNa says:

    The Police has confirmed there is no investigation into the engines and there was no report of them stolen, is this because the PD gave the employee permission to take them?

    • Franx says:

      After reading the pathetic excuse that the Port Director has given to the Caymanian Compass about the theft of 4 engines. The public should understand that the Port Authority has operated for 40 years without any abuse of power by a Port Director.

      It’s amazing how the Port Director can point blame for his maladministration. Caymanian compass should be more responsible and get the other side of the story, namely from the finance team at the Port.

      The Board is pathetic and inept!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes! According to the emails the PD is referring to he is either lying or not in tuned to reality. The Compass has quoted the PD as saying it’s the responsibility if the CFO to develop policies for disposing of Assets. If the PD is that short circuited in management I’d like to refer him to a UCCI OR ICCI TO TAKE A COURSE IN MANAGEMENT. A CEO has responsibility for all aspects of the operations and will make sure that his operation is in line with best business practices and not circumvent and go against the best business practice!

      One cannot expect any better, a degree in construction techniques as Port Director?Mmmmmmmm! Isn’t that a receipe for what we are seeing! When Paul Hurlston was PD foolishness like this wouldn’t happen. But the chairman persuaded the board that he wasn’t able to work with Paul. Bla Bla Bla!! The board wanted a lackey boy they could twirl around their finger. Look what cha got, an imbarassment to the Cayman Islands. Someone that’s crying and blaming others for his blatant disregard for laws and policies!! Mr Port Director why don’t you seek a career in the construction business! It’ll suit your qualifications.

      Those 4 engines are gone missing an you don’t know!! Come on!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Those excessive office costs and salaries could have been put to some actual use in the schools. I always think of the teachers in the government schools with not enough resources to even buy pencil sharpeners sometimes, and the use that they and the children could have had with these funds that are completely wasted and squandered by other government departments. It’s disgusting.

  4. Anonymous says:

    When will the Board of Directors tell us what actions they have taken?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Its unlikely that PD Clemence wrote the 85 page letter justifying his actions and rebutting the AG’s charges. It reads as if a legal firm wrote it. If so did the board that Clemence still sits on as PD authorize and sanction the payment?

    • Anonymous says:

      Clement paid for his attorney out of his own pocket.

      • Say it like it is says:

        10.12am Based on the ridiculous salary he is paid his pockets must be bottomless. He will get away with this wanton extravagance and other outrageous behaviour because sadly this is the norm for Caymanians in these positions and it’s all you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours – never, never any accountability.

      • Anonymous says:

        Did Mac pay for his driver, out of pocket?

        • Anonymous says:

          Mac’s driver continued to receive his salary, he was on paid leave which is why Clement is in the firing line for having allowed it.

  6. James says:

    A more honest, hardworking Caymanian than Clement Reid you would be hard pressed to find. Since taking over the port it has steadily improved its services and working conditions. All that can be said is that he used the money to improve the place and for that he has my support.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Keep digging………..

  8. Anonymous says:

    Lots of stuff going on at the port that hasn’t been made public. It is understood that Those humongous cranes and yard works wasn’t budgeted for. XXXX Overtime is said to be in the region of $85k per month. Sick leave is the highest it’s ever been. Special leave is the highest it’s ever been. The board of dictators (directors) is running the Port. People resigning and being fired to save XXXX’s job. XXXX

  9. Anonymous says:

    I hope the corruption can stop

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