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The Cayman Islands financial services industry has welcomed the appointment of Juliana O’Connor-Connolly as the territory's new Premier, following an announcement of criminal proceedings against her predecessor, McKeeva Bush.
Bush was arrested on December 11, 2012, on suspicion of theft, in connection with financial irregularities relating to the alleged misuse of a government credit card (dating back to 2004, and previously investigated in 2010), and breach of trust, abuse of office, and conflict of interest, in connection with the alleged importation of explosive substances without valid permits on or before February 2012. He was granted bail until February "to allow further investigations to take place both [in the Caymans] and abroad in connection with the allegations made against him."
Bush, who has been in public office for almost three decades, was questioned over two days by local police. He has said he plans to challenge the allegations, and had initially rebuffed calls for him to resign from his post as Premier and Minister of Finance, Tourism and Development
The appointment of the Cayman Islands' first female Premier comes after a successful vote of no-confidence, with 11 votes in favour and 3 votes against.
Welcoming the news, the President of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce, Chris Duggan said: “Political stability is a cornerstone of any successful democracy. Governor Duncan Taylor’s decision to utilise his discretionary powers under the Constitution to revoke McKeeva Bush’s appointment as Premier and to appoint the Juliana O’Connor-Connolly as the new Premier, in addition to accepting her recommendations for the appointment of Cabinet Ministers, brings much needed stability and order to what has been a very difficult and tumultuous time for the people of the Cayman Islands."
"The Council of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce fully supports
Governor Taylor's decision and we welcome the appointment of the new government.
We stand prepared to work with the new government to further the development
of the Cayman Islands economy and we now look forward to our legislators leaving
the difficulties of this past week behind them and working together to positively
move our economy and our islands forward.”
Richard Coles, the Chairman of Cayman Finance - the promotional agency for the island's financial services industry, sought to distance the local financial services industry from the debacle. “The financial services industry operates independently of the political arm of the Legislature and any potential criminal charges against an individual do not impact the ongoing effective functioning of the government or the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA).”
“We note that while no charges have yet been laid against Bush these are serious allegations and it is important that public confidence in Cayman’s political and legal systems is maintained,” Coles said. “It is only appropriate that Bush step aside while these allegations are being investigated and resolved in order to protect the integrity of the parliamentary system. We also note the requirement of due process and the importance of resolving these issues as expeditiously as possible.”
“The strength of Cayman’s law enforcement and anti-corruption systems and its intolerance for any unethical behaviour, regardless of the individual concerned, is what sets our jurisdiction apart from others and makes us a preferred country with which to do business,” Coles said. “We hope these investigations are concluded swiftly.”
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