Ethics board chair in dark over missing law

| 20/03/2019 | 35 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): Rosie Whittaker-Myles, chair of the Standards in Public Life Commission, said that neither she nor the members had been given any new information about the long missing law to underpin the work of that commission, which was passed by legislators almost six years ago but has never been implemented. Speaking to the Public Accounts Committee Wednesday about the auditor general’s report on fighting corruption, Whittaker said that although she had seen in the press that the law was said to be undergoing another review, the commission has “not been told” anything about it.

The commission, which helped draft the law, has been urging government to implement it for many years, and Whittaker-Myles said she was pleased to see that it had been identified as very important in the audit, by Auditor General Sue Winspear’s team, on government’s vulnerabilities to corruption, Fighting Corruption in the Cayman Islands. That report found that the missing legislation was an important gap in government’s fight against corruption.

Whittaker-Myles told the parliamentary committee that the commission members met with the governor at the end of last year and impressed upon him the urgent need for the law. She told the committee that the governor had said that he would bring the commission’s concerns to the premier and have the matter resolved. But since then they had heard nothing more, she said.

She explained that while the commission had become aware that there may be more amendments planned for the legislation, they had not been given any information about the review. 

Whittaker-Myles said it was very difficult for the commission to operate without the legislation and it was not able to fulfill its constitutional mandate. She pointed out that one area of major concern was the Register of Interests of MLAs, which she said her commission is supposed to supervise but has no power to address the concerns they have with it.

She revealed that the commission had made an appointment to inspect the register, as they are allowed to as members of the public, and identified areas where more information was needed. They had followed up with requests for more information but the commission was not satisfied with the responses. However, the commission has no power to do anything about that, she said.

Whittaker-Myles said that she did not believe there was sufficient scrutiny or management of the MLAs Register of Interests. She pointed to the legitimate public expectation that the Standards in Public Life Law should be implemented and warned that the issues regarding the register was a good example why. 

She said the register was very important when considering good governance and integrity and the public’s confidence in government, but noted that the commission was limited in what it could do in this area and many others until the law was passed.

Answering PAC member’s questions, she said that no one had ever approached her directly to say they objected to the law but she was aware from other members, and the premier, that the issue appeared to lie with board members from the private sector who serve as volunteers, who are behind the delay in the legislation’s implementation.

In January Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose said he believed that the premier had plans to conduct another review of the law and a further announcement on that was expected in the not too distant future, but he did not have a time-frame for when that might happen.

PAC Chair Ezzard Miller said that there was no sign of the legislation ahead of the next meeting of the Legislative Assembly, scheduled for 3 April. 

See Standards in Public Life law and Amendment in the CNS Library

See the OAG report in the CNS Library

See the PAC proceedings on CIGTV

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Comments (35)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The fact that Austin Harris sits on the PAC now trying to push the narrative that the Committee is not hindered by the lack of supporting legislation is some of the most extreme hypocrisy I have seen in all my years

    He spent years… YEARS on the radio calling for transparency and accountability in the LA and the CS and now that he is in office he has suddenly started singing a different tune

    I wish I had recordings of his show and clips of what he is saying now to play back to back
    Unseating him in 2021 should be an easy task for anyone who is paying attention

    • Anonymous says:

      Austin Harris is the biggest fraud in Cayman political history. He has done a 180 degree shift after years of criticizing policies he now supports. He is a puppet for the Premier and might as well join the PPM. He sold out the minute he was elected. A one term wonder so he should save his money he’s done in 2021.

  2. Ambassador of Absurdistan says:

    Your government do not care about the will of the people nor do they appear remotely interested in doing the right things.

    The charade of accountability, transparency and good governance continues with no repercussions at any level in the governance structure.

    Just Another Day in Absurdistan

  3. Say it like it is. says:

    My previous comments are worth repeating – over the last 40 years how many politicians/senior civil servants and other government officials have been prosecuted for corruption. It seems we are unique in having the most honest and law abiding officials of any country in the world. God bless them all.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    CNS can you post a link to the proposed Law?

    CNS: I’ve added the link at the end of the article.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Board members are already required to file an annual register of interests and to declare all potential conflicts. If the ACC receives a complaint or has a suspicion of corrupt activity, they are already empowered to investigate. If that investigation leads to a family member, then let the investigation go where it will. The law is the law. Passing one more law won’t help anything if the watchdog agency doesn’t investigate.

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    • Anonymous says:

      With enactment of SIPL comes the potential for asset/pension forfeitures, criminal penalties, and disqualifying jail time, both for the givers and perrenial takers.

    • Anonymous says:

      The register of interests is not completed or updated honestly or timely, and there are no prescribed punishments for non-compliance. SIPL was created by virtue of section 119 of the Constitution.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Why should I allow someone to crawl around my private deals like flies to a picnic? This law will discourage private sector talent from serving the best interests of Caymanians.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Because it is required under the Constitution Order 2009 (a decade ago). Conflicted eels are not the talent we need. Resign, retire, or go to jail.

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  7. Come Straight says:

    So 7:39pm, you feel it is perfectly fine for a board member to be deciding on the award of contracts to a company as long as he doesn’t own or have shares in the company? The fact that his spouse, sibling or children own the company that he is agreeing to award contracts to is perfectly fine also? Really?
    Or is it that we need to remove the provision requiring disclosure by these immediate family members SO THAT the Board member can award contracts to their companies without any knowledge by the public? That sounds more like you objective to me.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Award of contracts is done through the CIG Tenders Committee or whatever it is they call themselves now. Boards don’t award contracts.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Funny. You are correct of course, but we already know that the Boards like PLA/PRCS and other non tendering Committees (loaded with conflicts) already wield enormous power to decide who gets to do what, when, and for how much. Just hope you’ve never crossed anyone across the table when your personal affairs or plans come up for a decision. Back-scratching and retribution trump merit in every instance.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Maybe after the port deal.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Those with something to hide always protest the most. Another reason this law will never get enacted. Too much dirt in the wash to come out and we all know we Caymanians don’t like having our dirt aired.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Oh stop with caymanian this caymanian that rhetoric. That is exactly what they want. You are delusional if you’re not aware of level of corruption taking place through all levels of society here BY ALL. Have a read of the CFATF report just published if you missed the damming headlines of both Tuesday and Wednesdays newspapers.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    “Whittaker-Myles said it was very difficult for the commission to operate without the legislation and it was not able to fulfill its constitutional mandate. She pointed out that one area of major concern was the Register of Interests of MLAs, which she said her commission is supposed to supervise but has no power to address the concerns they have with it.”

    This paragraph says it all

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    • Anonymous says:

      so board indicated years later after being asked…not being proactive is a bit concerning itself for these cushy appointments

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  11. Anonymous says:

    7:39 Law is Law.
    Indeed this is a vital one…

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  12. Anonymous says:

    This is just more red tape and will make extra cost therefore we do not need it. Just abolish these silly boards as our honorable premier and his unity team will get the jobs done. They have us in the best financial position of any country and we are only getting better. Praise to you Mr Premier and the rest of the Unity Team!

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Good governance requires a legal framework for conduct where bad behavior or acting against public interest is visible, reportable and punishable. The SIPL is the most fundamental first step in that regard, and this regime has been passing false reasoning to media in desperate hopes their explanation will convince voters of why it has been deferred for so long.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Looks like they’ll be waiting a long time for someone to enlighten them. Until then the scullduggery will continue.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    The Law as written requires Board members to report all details of ownership of land and companies by not only the Board member, but his or her extended family. How can you require your extended family members to make a public listing of everything they own? Especially in a country full of busy bodies who would love nothing better than to camp out at the registry and go through everybody’s business. I’m happy to report any potential known conflicts, but I don’t have the right or the ability to delve into my extended family’s business interests.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Why cant they just update the law to require conflicts be noted then and obviously clarify the definition of conflicts in that law.

      I’m sick of hearing about delays to updating laws where needed and justifications on why it takes so long to do it and yet when in their interest to increase fees and/or bureaucracy, they manage to update laws on an annual basis, case in point, the Planning Law and Regulations Updated about 5 times in past 8-10 years, each time making it more expensive to build anything And while increasing the fees to reap the benefits of development by the rich, zero consideration of how impossible theyve made it for the working class to afford to build a home!

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      • Anonymous says:

        It was updated.

      • Anonymous says:

        The Commission for Standards in Public Life (CSPL), in accordance with Section 117(9)(f) of the Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009, developed a Code of Conduct intended to promote the 7 Nolan Principles of Good Governance amongst all individuals serving in a public capacity. It’s not optional or redundant. SIPL was Amended in 2016, removing what this regime and others continue to complain about – disclosure of extended family interests. Continuing to dither under assumption of clauses removed almost 3 years ago should be prosecutable, yet nobody in the LA calls it out – because they all like things just the way they are!

    • Anonymous says:

      Or is it that you just lack the desire to delve into their interests?

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      • Anonymous says:

        Can you go to your brother-in-law (or similar relation) and demand he give you a listing of everything he owns? I know I can’t. It would not be possible for me to comply with this Law because of that issue.

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        • Anonymous says:

          SIPL 2014 was updated in 2016 removing this almost 3 years ago. Time to come up with some other excuse.

    • Anonymous says:

      False.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Great response. Do you pull your facts from your backside or do you just make them up? Its not hard to find or interpret the section in this law that 7:39pm refers to.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Oh, you mean the section that was amended in 2016? Right. Another Unity shill lying to everyone…time for that to end.

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    • Anonymous says:

      “Connected family” definition was amended to “immediate family only” way back in 2016:

      http://www.standardsinpubliclifecommission.ky/legislation

      Page 3-4: “immediate family” means a spouse, a dependant (spelling error theirs) or such other person as may be prescribed by Cabinet by regulations.

      Don’t let the the facts get in the way of a good story that kicks this can down the road…anyone in the LA or sitting on a Board that continues to harp falsely on this premise should be perjured and disqualified.

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