Ex-Maples boss to chair Anti-Corruption Commission

| 10/07/2024 | 31 Comments
Elisabeth Lees and Charles Jennings

(CNS): Charles Jennings has been appointed as the chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission for the next twelve months, taking over from Adrian “Gus” Pope, Governor Jane Owen has announced. Jennings, who has been a member of the ACC for the last two years, is a former worldwide managing partner of Maples and Calder and former president of the Cayman Islands Law Society. Since 2012, he has been chair of the Financial Services Legislative Committee. Pope is stepping down after two years in the chair.

Elisabeth Lees, a former crown prosecutor and the National Coordinator of the Anti-Money Laundering Steering Group from 2019 until January 2022, has also been appointed to the commission as a member for a one-year term.

Owen thanked Pope for his “outstanding leadership” and work on the commission for the last four years. “During his tenure as chairman, the ACC conducted a number of complex investigations and contributed to the Cayman Islands’ removal from the FATF grey list in October 2023, which is to be commended,” she said. “I am pleased to appoint Mr Jennings and Ms Lees to these new roles and am confident that they will work diligently alongside the other members to enhance the stability, prosperity and reputation of the Cayman Islands through the important work of the Commission.”

The prosecution said to have assisted Cayman in being removed from the FATF grey list was that of another former Maples lawyer, Bruce Blake, and his friend and business partner Canover Watson. In 2022, they were both found guilty of fraud against CIFA and CONCACAF in a complex false invoicing case involving a sports equipment supplier from Pakistan.

However, since the inception of the ACC more than 14 years ago, many of the cases that have come to court have involved relatively lowly public officials or corrupt police officers. The commission also brought to light an immigration bribery scandal involving the English language test for work permit holders that was successfully prosecuted.

The most recent case involved the chairman of the National Housing Trust, who was found not guilty of corruption after he took topsoil, marl and fill from the government-owned site in North Side and putt it on his family land.

There are concerns that the ACC’s work is underfunded, with a very small investigation team who are overwhelmed with the caseload. In the 2023 annual report, the commission stated that it does not have its own budget. The Commissions Secretariat‘s budget includes a separate and distinct provision for the ACC investigators, but the ACC members “have no meaningful involvement in the establishment of the budget” or financial autonomy.

The ACC has said that in the long term, consideration must be given to whether a better legal and operational structure needs to be found for it to become a stand-alone entity with its own premises, budget and employees.

The mission of the ACC is to “enhance the stability, prosperity and reputation of the Cayman Islands by sustaining the confidence and trust of the community in the integrity and good governance of its government and public institutions through fighting corruption with just, fair and effective investigations”.

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Category: Crime

Comments (31)

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  1. Donald Stumps says:

    Just so funny how those close to the establishment always seem to be recycled From one position to the next . Congrats Ms lees finally someone qualified to at least hold that position.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I suggest they look at nepotism relating to the appointment of board members by MP’s. It stinks!!

    • Anonymous says:

      It stinks to high heaven, but it is how MPs choose to reward loyal supporters at the country’s expense.

  3. Anonymous says:

    How much of the public’s money was paid to Travel & Leisure magazine to rank Cayman Airways in their best airlines of the world? How much did those 4 “First Max 8 in the Caribbean” cost us to sit grounded for years? What are the lease terms? Where are the citizenry’s Sir Turtle mile credits for essential air travel during lockdown? Cancelled flight credits?!?

  4. Anonymous says:

    When can we expect investigation into certain status grants?

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is an OT where the authorities can’t even bother to enforce putting on front license plates.

  6. Anonymous says:

    No money for you Charles until you can show that your commission mandate is to find corruption where ever it may be in Cayman and prosecute. If you take a grain of sand and toss it in the wind it will 100% fall on a corrupt politician or one of their cronies. The Anti-Corruption act is toothless and SIPL … oh never mind.

    • Anonymous says:

      What money?

      • Anonymous says:

        Read the article. Charles thinks the commission is under funded and funding should not be subject to political interference. Read his wish list which should be standard by why fund a body that has show little or no value for money?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Part of the issue is the culture in Cayman. It is a tiny community where most people are connected. Many people do not want to risk the fall-out or victimization that comes from pointing the finger at another member of the community, especially if that person is well-known, connected, or has political power.

    The ACC requires someone to come forward as the complainant for them to get in gear. The Auditor General carries out its own motion investigations based on suspicions and stands behind its findings in front of Parliament.

    Perhaps if the ACC took a similar approach, it would be more effective in rooting out corruption. They can start by looking at the conflict of interest among an increasing number of Boards of SAGCs who now collectively approve pay stipends to themselves running into hundreds of thousands annually. It is an open secret, the ACC knows about it, but they are waiting for someone to come and make a formal complaint to them before doing anything about it. Therein lies the problem with this body.

    • Anonymous says:

      Similar issue with the cops. They won’t do anything without a complainant. If someone complains they divulge the name of the complainant. So no one complains. Criminality seemingly continues openly under the noses of the cops, but no complainant, no action, and the perfect excuse for no action. It has all taken on the appearance of a scam. It is destroying Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      12:29 your first paragraph says it all. What looks like corruption is “just helping family”. Remember many years ago when the government that had Tom Jefferson as a major player removed the duty on dairy “to help the man in the street with milk, butter and cheese”? It also, more significantly, greatly assisted a certain pizza company ( cheese!!) …..run by the Jefferson family. Corruption? Hard to prove the real intent behind the duty removal. That’s the problem with small communities.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Was Legge not available?

  9. Anonymous says:

    So, if the unqualified practice of Cayman Law is an offence;
    and our “all crimes” AML regime seems to make the proceeds from such activity the proceeds of crime, who should any such conduct be reported to?


    • Anonymous says:

      lol – angry and unqualified.

      • Anonymous says:

        Perhaps. But what is the answer?

        • Anonymous says:


        • Anonymous says:

          >”Perhaps. But what is the answer?”

          (For observers wondering what this is about, it is about Law firms with Hong Kong offices. They have these because they are necessary to service clients Hong Kong.)

          There is no such thing as “the unqualified practice of Cayman Law”. It is a trope used by morons, grifters and the congenitally unemployable (the “Useless”) to excuse their own inherent worthlessness.

          Any Caymanian is equally free to open their own law firm office in Hong Kong. If such Caymanians are intelligent, educated, qualified, and competent, clients will choose to instruct them. One must infer from the persistent whining in CNS comments over the years (see CNS passim re. the Legal Services Act) that clients have made their assessment. Apparently, the Useless believe that (a) clients are wrong; and (b) the Cayman Islands Government has extra-territorial jurisdiction to mandate how the People’s Republic of China governs its lawyers. Both implicit assertions demonstrate why the Useless are unemployable.

          • Anonymous says:

            The practice of Cayman Islands Law requires the practitioner to hold a practicing certificate. These are issued by the Grand Court annually and are available to qualified persons who are Caymanian or who swear an affidavit of residence in the Cayman Islands. Practicing law without a practicing certificate is an offense.

          • Anonymous says:

            and yet the Law Society of England and Wales can stop me from holding myself out as a Solicitor in the Cayman Islands?
            The New York Attorney General can stop me from holding myself out as a New York lawyer in the Cayman Islands?
            Hell, even the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court could stop me from holding myself out as a BVI lawyer in the Cayman Islands.
            Is it only Cayman law that has no prospect of extraterritorial effect?

    • Anonymous says:

      You might have an argument if the unqualified practice of Cayman law was a criminal offence.

      • Anonymous says:

        No need for it to be a criminal offence. A regulatory Offence is all that is required to be the “proceeds of crime”. It is. Under the Legal Practitioner’s Act.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Meanwhile, we share the room with 800lb silverbacks that remain untouchably corrupt, self-approving more power, pay, cronyism, and self-indemnities. The ACC has been a window-dressing exercise, rather than a credible watchdog or prosecutorial agency of justice. We all wait for a cleaner version to show up, but it feels like too many peers and dear friends are implicated in the wider conspiracies. Feel free to show us we’re wrong Charles.

  11. Anonymous says:

    This is a waste of money because there is no corruption in Cayman. Madame Premier shut these people down as they are just going to try to slow our progress down.


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