Civil service pay-offs still causing audit concerns

| 03/03/2020 | 31 Comments

(CNS): Government’s efforts to keep a lid on the details of the pay-offs it has made, and continues to make, to senior civil servants who have left the public sector under questionable circumstances are still raising issues for the Office of the Auditor General. In her latest report looking at government finances, Auditor General Sue Winspear said that in 2017 the government did not properly report manage pay-offs in accordance with international accounting standards.

Although government avoided a qualified opinion in any ministry or public authority over the issue in this year’s audits, in 2017 both the Ministry of Community Affairs and the Ministry of Immigration failed to state in their financial statements two major pay-offs to senior civil servants who were paid off from their jobs.

In the report, the auditors state that compliance with international accounting practices requires that material payments made to staff due to termination or severance, regardless of non-disclosure settlements, must still be reported in the relevant public authority or ministry’s accounts.

Winspear told CNS that ministries do not have to disclose the identity of the individuals or details of the pay-offs but the amount has to be disclosed, hence the two qualified opinions last year.

Her office remains concerned that this situation may occur again, but the auditors are keen to ensure that government understands its obligation to disclose what are often hundreds of thousands of dollars, as these are public entities spending public money to settle the departures of senior public servants.

CNS understands that the missing records of these payments relate to the closed-door deals that were stuck with the former community affairs ministry’s chief officer, Dorine Whittaker, and the former chief immigration officer, Linda Evans.

Winspear is not the first auditor to note the issue of government’s efforts to keep a lid on such deals and the cash payments in particular. Both of the previous auditor generals have warned government about non-disclosure deals.

While efforts to keep a lid on what are seen as the personal details of the deals may be understandable, auditors have been persistent in their warnings to the government that the amounts must be disclosed in the accounts. Ministries do not have the authority to simply not disclose those payments.

As work begins on the 2019 audit, it is likely that the question of payoffs could arise again. It is understood the payment to the former director of the Department of Environmental Health, Roydell Carter, who was on some form of mystery leave from his job for over ten months before government admitted he had been retired, should be included in the 2019 accounts.

The ombudsman upheld the government’s refusal to release the details of the secret deal cut with the one-time DEH boss in response to a freedom of information request. But Sandy Hermistone also warned government that it should not be using non-disclosure contracts to avoid its responsibility to be transparent about public cash.

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Category: Government Finance, Government oversight, Politics

Comments (31)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Question: What do you do with dishonest or incompetent senior civil servants in the Cayman Islands.
    Answer: Put them on indefinite paid leave until they reach retirement age, then pay them a full pension.

    Just another day in Buffoonistan.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ah, but who is the incompetent civil servant? The person fired, or the person that fired them? And why did they fire them?

    • Anon. says:

      Usually, this government promotes or transfers them.
      Not all civil servants who were put on leave were the incompetent ones, some did their jobs, refused to be “yes” men/women and highlighted their superiors’ incompetence.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Have the people who placed these people in positions well above their capabilities in the first place been fired yet?

    • Anonymous says:

      As long as we have a policy of appoint/promote Caymanians at all cost, 9:48 , we will have these problems of “ people in positions well above their capabilities”. It has been going on for 50 years but in the early days any old drunk( remember the Principal Secretary who used to urinate in the garbage bins at Galleon?) could become a senior civil servant because Cayman was a small isolated place. It didn’t matter. It does now.

  3. Anonymous says:

    From this point forward, things will remain the same…

  4. Anonymous says:

    But these are all 5th generation or more Caymanians. Isn’t this their entitlement !!???

  5. Anonymous says:

    The correct terminology is “Entitlement Benefit”.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Now that you folks know what you can accomplish when you get off your butts and make a stand… Who knows what we can get done for this election year!!!
    Fingers crossed that Mac is booted and stripped of his ‘Honorable’ title.

  7. Anonymous says:

    So…..Still corrupt. We know and knew that. With no meaningful and functional enforcement they will never have to change.

  8. Anonymous says:

    There are “dismissal settlements”, and then there are “civil service pay-offs”. We already know that various government entities and territorial bodies haven’t published years of financials going back to former connected and closely associated ministers, including the global headline criminal probe of FIFA/CONCACAF, and the complicit role of lead Caymanians and CIFA.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Who is the lead shister responsible for abiding years of failing performance criteria per the Public Service Management Law, and how can they not find themselves in civil/criminal court for presiding over this? Let’s start there immediately. The ACC should also be asked questions over how gross abuse of position is not considered to be a financial crime perpetrated against the public interest. Examples need to be made.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Cayman voters really need to come to terms with the cost of the governance impasse we continue to spend our way through. Decades of incomplete or wholly redacted accounting to cover up the scale of ineptitude, maladministration, theft, and worse. Our territory will need an administrative intervention to get on the right track, and to punish those serial abusers of our trust. They won’t do it themselves.

  11. Anonymous says:

    the people feel it is their money???? and get very aggressive if tge find out…i know as i have heard them whenever it is discussed!!! non disclosure is fine as is….if i ever got paid off by govt, i wouldnt want the people to know for the very exact reason…you become a target!!!!😢😢😢 and make life living here very difficukt to impossible.. and yes i am a native indigenous cwymanian😊

  12. Anonymous says:

    It’s called corruption and unaccountability.

  13. Say it like it is. says:

    Where else in the world do civil servants who have been required to leave their jobs because of undisclosed issues get rewarded with vast payoffs from taxpayer funds. They not only have the payouts kept secret but also the reasons for their dismissal. This has to stop.

    • Anonymous says:

      It happens because the civil servants have been unlawfully treated by superiors who may have even broken laws in their mistreatment of honest decent people whose careers are destroyed, and the only way of keeping the story secret is to pay large amounts (of our money) to the victims.

      • Repent not your sins. says:

        9.27pm It’s civil servants like you who perpetuate this travesty. These people are suspended for long periods on full pay and then rewarded with a golden handshake and full pension. If what you say has any element of truth which I doubt, then these “superiors” would have to be dismissed, but then of course they would get the same treatment, secrecy and big payoff. This system is farcical and would not be countenanced in any civilized society. The auditor and her predecessors have flagged this secrecy issue as it contravenes international accounting practice, but true to form the civil service just ignores the audit comments in the local time honoured civil service tradition that there shall never be accountability in the Service. This is why in cases such as this we are still a Banana Republic.

    • Chris Johnson says:

      Keep up the good work Mrs Winspear. You and your department are a shinning beacon in the accounting darkness. Take no prisoners.

      Non Illegitimae Carborundum .

      • Anonymous says:

        The phrase (which is completely phony Latin) is non illegitimi carborundum. And one hopes Mrs Winspear is a shining beacon not a shinning beacon. Shum mishtake surely, Mr Johnson?

    • Anonymous says:

      “This has to stop”? No. It doesn’t have to stop. As long as there are thieves running the government it isn’t going to stop! Do you think the people in charge don’t know anything about this? Anyone who reads the newspaper knows about the thousands and thousands of dollars that are being given to friends and/or relatives of people in government! Why is this allowed to continue????? Anyone who reads the newspapers sees the thieves with government jobs get caught stealing or otherwise taking money wrongfully, AND IT GOES ON AND ON, Then, after being on the payroll for years, the thieves are eased into retirement with full benefits!. We don’t need that kind of leadership!

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s a quite common public sector practise in the UK, used mostly to silence ‘whistleblowers’. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that our previous Governor got a quite useful settlement after he was sacked.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am not “surprised” that you would stoop so low as to spread lies about the UK Government just to try and make your government look better. But then again that’s all you got. You are represented by corrupt people because you deserve it.

        • Anonymous says:


        • Anonymous says:

          5:09 I’m not only from the UK but I’ve worked in both the civil service and local government over there so I know what I’m talking about. OK?

          One case I can site from personal experience was where the head of a council housing department (my big boss) got caught out by the local press covering up huge problems with their building maintenance contract. It involved £millions in losses but he was quietly paid off and allowed to move on. Our local county council held two senior members of staff on required leave for over two years before paying them off – nobody ever found out what the problem was. It’s surprisingly common in the UK. The police are absolute masters at – officers under investigation are quietly asked to ‘put their papers in’ and retire all the time because once they’re out the disciplinary process stops. Allegedly (and I stress that’s all it is) one of our former RCIPS Commissioners arrived here that way.

          If you don’t believe me read this –

          I’m not defending CIG, just responding to the opening comment in this thread.

          • Say it like it is says:

            8.02am So you are trying to excuse the local scandals. Local county councils are a lot different to Government departments, but I am confident they report the payments in their financial statements, unlike here. Despite your claimed experience it seems your spelling is wanting.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Is there any accountability for the untouchables that repeatedly expose us to these liabilities, or do they just get promoted?

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