Turtle farm bosses to give back pay-hike ‘mistake’

| 01/12/2020 | 56 Comments
Cayman News Service
Cayman Turtle Centre COO Peggy Hamilton appears before PAC Tuesday

(CNS): The CEO and chief operating officer of the Cayman Turtle Centre, aka the Turtle Farm, will be paying back the salary hike they and other senior staff received by mistake. COO Peggy Hamilton told the Public Accounts Committee Tuesday that, following a board meeting, she and CEO Tim Adam would be returning the cash and a resolution had been passed for others who benefitted from the error to pay back the money if they chose to do so.

Given the significant subsidy the farm takes from the public purse to keep the doors open, the PAC had raised concerns about the salary increases that staff there had been paid, especially senior staff, including the CEO.

At a previous PAC hearing last month the so-called salary hike ‘mistake’ was detailed by the CEO and COO, which caused considerable concern for committee members and a major public backlash. As a result, an additional PAC hearing was fixed to revisit the issue this week to allow committee members to look more closely on how the mistake happened, how it was handled when it was uncovered and what the resolution is going to be.

Hamilton outlined a complex realignment of salaries and new pay policy at the facility that led to the error and how it took more than one year to uncover.

Initially, the board, at the suggestion of Adam, had opted to allow all those who had benefitted from the misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the pay policy that led to an additional pay hike to keep the pay increase. But they would not receive future increases until they arrived where they should be on the pay scale.

But when she returned before the committee, Hamilton revealed that the board has now passed a resolution that will allow people to pay back the incorrect hike on a voluntary basis and both she and Adam have agreed to do so starting from this month’s pay.

Hamilton claimed that both she and the CEO “had no issue in paying this back” but it was important that they followed the proper process. She confirmed that the HR Manager Yentel McGaw was also paying back her increase.

The COO, who has ultimate responsibility for human resources, admitted that she had not seen the mistake and it was almost a year before she noticed that something was wrong. She said it was only then that she had the “opportunity to do the due diligence”, and at that point she raised the red flag.

She said that McGaw had argued that it was correct and it took a while to work out that a mistake had been made. However, when McGaw appeared before the committee she confirmed that the salary reviews had all been done at the direction of, and in consultation with, Hamilton.

McGaw also said that Hamilton had directed changes to job descriptions for various posts at the facility that had appeared to reflect some manipulation to make the jobs fit pre-selected overseas candidates. This conflicted with what Hamilton had told the PAC at the previous hearing, when she denied any manipulation or changes to job descriptions to find specific candidates.

Hamilton again referred to the investigations that remain underway at the farm and said that she was unable to comment on whether or not the former chief financial officer was involved in any of the fraud or theft being investigated.

See Tuesday’s PAC hearing on CIGTV below:


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Category: Government oversight, Politics

Comments (56)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Where is that “Ha Ha” button?

  2. Anonymous says:

    So the HR Manager and COO are not held accountable why?!? Interesting that they are the ones who receive the additional pay but did not report it.
    Only report it when caught?!? Corruption and caymanian privilege at its finest!
    Make that happen in the private sector and HR Manager and COO would be immediately fired.
    And… Agreed to pay back?!? Wtf!! They didnt think about that when they were spending every cent of it!
    How is this place even opened when there are no tourists??! We, the people, continue to pay for the ludicrous salaries of these people?!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Do the required due diligence beforehand that what businesses do.

  4. Anonymous says:

    us as Caymanians allow this sort of nepotism and corruption to grow. we never hold people accountable for longer than a week and they know this. you cannot tell me the millions lost at Turtle farm couldn’t go better use (a dedicated trade school, more resources for schools, etc…)

  5. Anonymous says:

    Shut the white elephant down! If you were worried about jobs
    locals then redeploy through other channels.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Are we still doing the Penal Code (2019 Revision), or are we only selectively applying that to certain people?

    §253 Dishonestly Retaining a Wrongful Credit <– 10 years jail on conviction!!
    (1) A person commits an offence if —
    (a) a wrongful credit has been made to an account kept by him or in respect of which he has any right or interest;
    (b) he knows or believes that the credit is wrongful; and
    (c) he dishonestly fails to take such steps as are reasonable in the circumstances to secure that the credit is cancelled.
    all the activities which a person carries on by way of business shall be regarded as a single business carried on by him; and
    “money” includes money expressed in any currency.
    (2) References to a credit are to a credit of an amount of money.
    (3) A credit is wrongful if it is the credit side of an amount of money contrary to section 251.
    (4) A credit to an account is also wrongful to the extent that it derives from —
    (a) theft;
    (b) an offence under section 251;
    (c) blackmail; or
    (d) stolen goods.
    (5) In determining whether a credit to an account is wrongful, it is immaterial (in particular) whether the account is overdrawn before or after the credit is made.
    (6) A person who commits an offence under this section is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for ten years.
    (7) Subsection (8) applies for the purposes of provisions of this Law relating to stolen goods including subsection (4).
    (8) References to stolen goods include money which is withdrawn from an account to which a wrongful credit has been made, but only to the extent that the money derives from the credit.
    (9) In this section “account” and “money” shall be construed in accordance with section 252.

    See also:
    "§247 Intent to Defraud Government" <– 5 years jail on conviction!!
    247A. A person who, with intent to defraud the Government, —
    (a) wilfully makes, delivers or causes false or fraudulent information to be made to a person employed in the public service relating to the collection of money for the purposes of general revenue;
    (b) wilfully omits information required to be provided to a person employed in the public service relating to the collection of money for the purposes of general revenue, where required by law; or
    (c) wilfully obstructs, hinders, intimidates or resists a person employed in the public service in the collection of money for the purposes of general revenue,
    commits an offence.

    Why is giving it back "voluntary"?!?
    §253 Dishonestly retaining a wrongful credit <– 10 years jail on conviction!!
    (1) A person commits an offence if –
    (a) a wrongful credit has been made to an account kept by him or in respect of which he has any right or interest;
    (b) he knows or believes that the credit is wrongful; and
    (c) he dishonestly fails to take such steps as are reasonable in the circumstances to secure that the credit is cancelled.
    (2) References to a credit are to a credit of an amount of money.
    (3) A credit is wrongful if it is the credit side of an amount of money contrary to section 251.
    (4) A credit to an account is also wrongful to the extent that it derives from —
    (a) theft;
    (b) an offence under section 251;
    (c) blackmail; or
    (d) stolen goods.
    (5) In determining whether a credit to an account is wrongful, it is immaterial (in particular) whether the account is overdrawn before or after the credit is made.
    (6) A person who commits an offence under this section is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for ten years.
    (7) Subsection (8) applies for the purposes of provisions of this Law relating to stolen goods including subsection (4).
    (8) References to stolen goods include money which is withdrawn from an account to which a wrongful credit has been made, but only to the extent that the money derives from the credit.
    (9) In this section “account” and “money” shall be construed in accordance with section 252.

    • Yosemite Sam says:

      Sorry, 4.23pm….. but that doesn’t work with thieves! How can they get around $10,000,000 C.I. for YEARS and no one in CIG seems to care. I think it is a case of “Everybody’s Doin’ it, Doin’ it, Doin’ it!”

    • Anonymous says:

      CIG will only follow the Pirate code. Laws are for “others”. Your welcome.

  7. Michel says:

    What bothers me is the prase ” If they chose to do son” ?? It should be non conditional and should pay. I am disapointed but not surprised !

  8. Anonymous says:

    Out of interest, is testimony to the PAC on oath?

  9. Anonymous says:

    So the COO and the HR manager are calling each other liars in front of PAC, the COO is changing her story from one appearance in front of PAC to the next, despite deciding – after some public criticism – that the right thing to do is return the money which was paid in “error”, management have decided it should be an entirely voluntary decision, there are allegations that the former CFO may be enmired in some fraud investigation and management can neither confirm nor deny that, and the outside consultants have recommend that the CFO role be merged with the COO role to remove one of the key checks and balances in a management structure on the basis it will save money (or perhaps to avoid fraud!) – albeit the same COO now double hatting as CFO apparently took a year to discover an “error” in the remuneration structure she herself devised? If you made this up as plot line for a soap opera people would laugh at you.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Another article said it was over 20 employees received a pay increase totaling $23k. That amount divided by 12 months then 20 people….really it’s immaterial, especially since there was a pay increase freeze.

    • Anonymous says:

      In these times this is not immaterial. We cannot afford any unessasary costs. And this certainly counts as one.

    • Anonymous says:

      So if I come around your house, steal $23K of your stuff, its ok as long as I share it with 20 friends? Good to know. Where do you live?

      PS Perhaps you don’t realise – its a pay increase, not a one off bonus. Its $23K to date, but as long as they don’t reverse the pay increase – let alone pay the $23K back – the amount wrongfully taken just keeps getting bigger and bigger. The CEO and COO may be going to pay back the money – everyone else is left to decide whether they will just keep taking the additional amount each month. Its like an employer making a mistake on your pay check, then turning around and saying you know what, no need to repay it, and why dont we just keep paying you the new amount because it would be unfair to do otherwise.

  11. Anonymous says:

    SMH.

    Bring back Jim Wood!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Check this out:

    Chairman of the Turtle Farm Board is Brian Wight

    Councillor in the Ministry of Tourism is David Wight, who is Brians brother

    Brian and David sister is married to Gerry Kirkconnell

    Gerry Kirkconnell is cousin to Moses Kirkconnell

    Moses Kirkconnell is Minister for Tourism

    The Turtle Centre falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Tourism

    • Anonymous says:

      Not surprised, you can play the same name game with virtually any agency or CIG run entity in Cayman.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sure. But our imported regulators are oblivious to the connections, and so cannot see things that are well within the view of almost everyone from here.

      • Anonymous says:

        Look, its Cayman. Everyone is connected. If you can’t do 6 degrees of separation your name is Kevin Bacon.

    • Anonymous says:

      Time for direct rule. Too many things here related to financial matters are totally out of control. Too many people feeding at the public trough. It is rampant.

  13. Anonymous says:

    If they choose to do so??? Ridiculous. In any other organization that money would be deducted from their salaries monthly until paid back. Tim’s salary is already in the double digits monthly- he won’t miss it!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Its funny because I think if their paychecks had been a dollar short, they would have noticed immediately.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Only agreeing to pay it back now that they’ve been shamed! 👎 There should have been no need for discussion at a board meeting on whether to pay back. The minute that “error” was noticed, ALL that received the excess pay should have been made to return it.

    • Anonymous says:

      What the hell are all of the directors on the board doing? Zero accountability.

    • Anonymous says:

      We are not sure it was an error

    • Anonymous says:

      7.34 And this is why we are, and forever will be until SUBSTANTIAL change occurs, a banana republic. General, Field Marshal, First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord of Everything Idi Amin Dada would be jealous of the corruption here.

  16. Elvis says:

    So they decided to give it back when? Oh when they were busted and wanted to avoid prosecution right?

    Ah yes i get it now

  17. Anonymous says:

    Such honest persons.Not!!!! This should have been done automatically.

    I wouldn’t trust these persons to manage anything going forward. Terminate them now.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Their pants are on fire.

    • Anonymous says:

      Another entity run by a private sector board.

      • Anonymous says:

        The Board is appointed by government. Maybe try checking facts before you post. Idiot.

        • Anonymous says:

          7:37. You mean you blame Government for the failures of board members. I thought these private sector board members were better than Government.

          Guess not!! The truth hurts I know.

          These entity’s run by the private sector are simply not up to scratch.

          Anyone heard of the port authority recently. No! Why? A former civil servant is now running the Board. Bam!!

  19. Anonymous says:

    ‘complex realignment of salaries’… aka creative accounting. they tried to pull a fast one and got caught. if they all claim they didn’t notice a error in their paycheck for over year, how exactly can anyone trust them to manage a business? they should all be fired. and paying back the money should not be optional.

  20. Anonymous says:

    This makes me sick to read and confirms a lot of the rumblings around Cayman in spades:

    “…McGaw also said that Hamilton had directed changes to job descriptions for various posts at the facility that had appeared to reflect some manipulation to make the jobs fit pre-selected overseas candidates. This conflicted with what Hamilton had told the PAC at the previous hearing, when she denied any manipulation or changes to job descriptions to find specific candidates…”

    • Anonymous says:

      Happens all the time.

    • Anonymous says:

      So you know which one is telling the truth how exactly?

    • Say it like it is says:

      3.44pm Both these individuals made accusations against eachother. Does McGaw have evidence of this “manipulation”?. I would have thought almost all employees are Caymanian and those that are not, have specialist qualifications in marine husbandry.

  21. Anonymous says:

    CYA time?

  22. anon says:

    If I was a turtle I’d demand to be released from this bedlam of incompetence and fraud and be put back in the sea.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am a taxpayer and would like to be freed from the burden of paying for this bedlam of incompetence and fraud. I suppose as much prospect of that as the turtle has of being freed.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Only three employees out of hundreds on payroll honestly returning the money they all knew they weren’t supposed to have, and a year later trying to cover up or spin it as voluntary. I guess when you’re surrounded by institutionalized theft, it’s hard to know when to pretend to be honorable.

  24. Catcha Fire says:

    Only Cayman can a govt entity authorize THEFT or Obtaining Property by a Pecuniary Advantage which is Category B offence no doubt! i am going to take 250K but i will pay back later or i get exposed?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Insubordination!

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