CoP says Dart $5m legal
(CNS): Updated with premier's comments -- The police commissioner has confirmed that the Dart group has not committed any offence in connection with a $5 million donation that the company gave to government as part of the controversial ForCayman Investment Alliance. Following a complaint to the Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) by independent MLA Ezzard Miller, who questioned under what circumstances the cash payment was made, David Baines, in his role as chair of the ACC, wrote to Dart Management on Monday stating that the investigation was concluded and there was no evidence of a crime. The premier described the complaint as "political mischief making" and an "unfortunate waste of time".
The letter from the commissioner which was sent to Mark Vandevelde and Jackie Doak made it clear that the parties had cooperated with the enquiry, as Baines thanks them for supplying all of the necessary information.
In correspondence akin to that sent recently to Arden McLean thanking him for his cooperation regarding the complaint that he had not paid his CUC bills when he was a Cabinet minister, Baines acknowledged the assistance he received from Dart “to expedite this matter”. The McLean investigation was triggered by McKeeva Bush who reported the former Cabinet member to the anti-corruption commission as Bush claimed, McLean had not paid his CUC bills for one year while he was negotiating the licensing agreement with the local power firm.
McLean was also cleared after a few weeks having provided the commission with voluntary access to all the necessary documents and information to speed up the enquiry.
This latest complaint was made to the commission by Miller as he said it was not transparent as no invoice or explanation had been given for the early $5 million cash payment which, according to government and Dart, was an advance on a $20 million donation promised for community projects.
Government has said the cash forms part of a land swap and investment deal surrounding Dart’s plans for the property it owns around the West Bay Road and a new five star resort on the site of the former Courtyard Marriott.
The issue was questioned by Miller because the money was handed over before the main deal with Dart has been signed and as part of a preliminary deal to facilitate the start of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway extension ahead of the proposed closure of a 4,000 foot strip of the West Bay Road. With activists still campaigning against the closure, the crown land issue not yet sorted and an independent audit of the deal still underway, the signing of the early deal was treated with some suspicion.
When McKeeva Bush announced that he intended to give a quarter of a million dollars of the money to his preferred candidate in East End in order to implement community projects in that district, suspicions about the parameters of the payment were raised.
Miller asked to see the invoice from government which Dart was paying that could explain the $5 million cash donation. The premier also launched the start of a mortgage assistance programme with the money, which will help Caymanians who are facing repossession of their homes.
In response to the commissioner’s letter, a spokesperson for Dart said “given the open and transparent process that this contract with government underwent, the findings do not surprise Dart Realty’s Executive Team.”
Dart said it was releasing the letter, however, as a result of Miller’s on going allegations of corruption and his repeated calls for “an invoice” in order to put an “end to the often irresponsible speculation about the validity of the process and legitimacy of this contribution to the community.”
According to a release from government yesterday regarding the audit of the NRA-government deal with Dart, if the independent review does not show value for money and government rejects the deal, the investor will be able to recoup the $5 million via development concessions.
in the wake of the commissioner's clearance of Dart, the premeir said government was pleased to see the commission affirm the legitimacy of the Dart contribution.
"This letter from the ACC proves that the funding of community investments through the NRA Agreement has been done in full compliance of the laws and regulations, and that the political mischief making is an unfortunate waste of time and resources that could
be better used addressing real problems and real needs in our community," he said. "In these challenging economic times, the UDP Government stands by the NRA Agreement and the ForCayman Investment Alliance as an innovative, win-win partnership for the good of the Cayman Islands,” Bush added
|LT Dart Reality (Anti-Corruption Commission Ref No 004-12) 30April12 (1).pdf||90.32 KB|
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