(Cayman News Service):As the former premier’s slot machine gambling appeared to intensify in the early months of 2010, the crown said McKeeva Bush ran up a debt of over $33,000 withdrawing cash on his Cayman Islands Government credit card to play in casinos in the US and the Bahamas. During a week’s trip to Vegas in February, Bush was gambling hard and withdrew over $12,000 cash on the card and just a few weeks later on a short official trip to the Bahamas and Miami he touched the card for more than $17,000, the court heard Tuesday as Bush’s trial continued. These amounts were on top of an existing and mounting cash debt already on the card. At that time, the crown said, Bush hadn’t made any payments back to government since December 2009 leaving the public purse to carry the debt burden.
During the second day of the leader of the opposition’s trial for corruption and misconduct offences the jury heard that Bush’s efforts to get cash intensified, in 2010 as did his hours at the slots as well as his losses
Counsel representing the crown, Duncan Penny QC, told the jury that while Bush paid back some of the $33,000 several weeks after his gambling trips there was a sum of more than $10,000 outstanding which remained that way for more than two and a half years. It was not until the premier learned that his credit card statements were being investigated by police that he paid back the remaining debt, Penny told the court, as he began to wrap up his opening statement describing the crown’s case relating to the abuse of Bush’s government corporate credit card.
Penny detailed the major withdrawals during two trips in 2010 where Bush’s use of his government card across the casinos grew as he accessed much larger amounts including his single largest cash withdrawal on the corporate card in Florida in March when he cashed $4000 on the casino floor.
Having lost over $57,000 in Vegas, during a week-long personal trip which he had combined with a brief official appearance at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where he also gambled, Bush lost a further $45,000 in Florida a month later. He also was said to have lost an unknown amount in the Bahamas, where he was drawing money from various casinos. All of this was adding to his own personal credit card debts as well as the mounting personal bill on his CIG card.
Describing the acceleration in the credit card debt, as he completed the summary of the crown’s case, Penny explained that Bush had begun to use the cashier system on the casino floors and sign for the credit card cash advances rather than use the ATMs. The lawyer said this was because Bush was able to access more cash that way than via the teller machines which limited his daily cash amounts.
“The defendant became wise to the fact that the credit card was limited at the ATM to just $1000 per day,” he said, explaining that Bush began using the cashier services where he could sign for cash. Having started the previous July taking $500 here and $100 there on the government card Bush was now making withdrawals in the $1000s.
The lawyers said that the money Bush was “so keen to get his hands on was going back into the hungry machines” as he added to his loses.
Following the loss of more than a quarter of a million dollars since July 09 of his own money as well as that he had borrowed from the public purse, the court heard that Bush appeared to be in no hurry to pay back what he owed when he returned from the March trip.
On his return from the Bahamas and Florida, having taken well over $17,000 in cash on the casino floors or from ATMs during the four day trip, which was for tourism related business, he made no immediate payments when he was sent the reconciliation memo as usual in the immediate wake of the official travel. Despite knowing, the crown’s attorney claimed, that the money he had taken on that card was not for any legitimate business purpose, Bush made no effort to make prompt payment to return the public money.
However, some six weeks later he made the first of three random payments.
The first was for CI$9,000 on 1 April then three weeks later a second cheque was written for US$13,000 and shortly after one for a CI$1000. A further trip after that in which he drew just $1000 in cash from a Florida Casino while playing the slots, according to the loyalty card, left an estimated debt of just over CI$10,000 which remained that way for about two and a half years.
Despite efforts being made by some civil servants to press Bush to reconcile his credit card either with receipts or a written explanation or to pay back outstanding personal sums there was no money forthcoming from the premier until the matter was under investigation by the police.
In early November 2012, the police issued a production order to the deputy governor for the premier’s credit card statements which were handed over to the investigating officers. Bush appears to have heard about the investigation into his cards and called Franz Manderson, the deputy governor, to ask him if his statements had been given to the police, which the top civil servant confirmed was correct. It was then that Bush said he had not known about the outstanding balance and made another payment of some $9000 to the government coffers.
As he summarized the crown’s case against him Penny told the jury that Bush had breached his duty as a premier when he abused the card and allowed the public purse to carry a growing debt burden which was down to the then premier’s risky and addictive gambling habit. He said Bush began treating the government card like his own personal card as soon as it was given to him and his using the card for gambling was an affront to his high office.
He said Bush had shown a disregard for the public trust when he used that card in casinos to get cash for gambling and then made no effort to pay it back before government began to carry the debt. “He allowed government to carry the burden to the tune of $10,000 for two and a half years and only paid it back when he was aware of the investigation,” the lawyer said.
Penny closed his opening statement to the jury at around 11-30am on Tuesday morning.
Bush has persistently denied the allegations against him, which include 11 counts of breach of trust and misconduct in public office, all of which relate to cash withdrawals at casinos made on a government credit card during his first year in office after he was re-elected in 2009 as the country’s leader. Bush has described the charges as a political witch-hunt to discredit him and the Cayman Islands by the FCO.
The case continues in Grand Court One on Wednesday at 10am with the crown’s first witness, the financial secretary Kenneth Jefferson.
UK Prime Minister Liz Truss forced to break tax cut promise
By Dana Malcolm
#UnitedKingdom, October 6, 2022 – A month into her tenure as Liz Truss, UK Prime Minister is going back on one of her biggest campaign promises to cut taxes for certain British citizens.
The tax cut in question had been part of the PMs signature campaign to ease the economic burden in the UK and one that she and former Finance Minister and candidate for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had repeatedly clashed about. It would have seen the top earners, meaning anyone bringing in over £150 thousand a year, pay less money to the government.
Unfortunately the plan rocked Britain’s economy pushing the pound on par with the US dollar for the first time in years.
It is an economic blow, and at a time when families are already struggling with incredibly high energy bills and inflation. The money to find these tax cuts would have been borrowed an idea that her own party signaled it would vote against. In addition to the economic impacts British citizens had also been strongly opposed to that facet of the economic plans.
In letting go of the tax cut, Truss said, “We get it and we have listened” the admission coming days after she defended it to the public.
Still there are parts of the larger package that will still go on which will afford tax cuts to lower income families and put a cap on energy costs.
Regressive recession looming, forces UN to issue Cease and Desist message to ‘big’ countries
By Dana Malcolm
October 6, 2022 – Central Banks in advanced nations must stop pushing up interest rates now or risk sending the globe into recession where developing nations suffer most according to the UN.
In the last several months, The U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and Bank of Canada have all spiked interest rates in an effort to control borrowing power, buying power and possibly push down inflation
“The world is headed towards a global recession and prolonged stagnation unless we quickly change the current policy course of monetary and fiscal tightening in advanced economies.” It said, mincing no words, the agency described the potential global recession as ‘policy induced’ by developed countries. And this recession could be worse than the 2008 crisis. This is especially true for developing countries like those in the Caribbean.
“While all regions will be affected, alarm bells are ringing most for developing countries, many of which are edging closer to debt default.” The agency said.
And if it happens the recession could set developing nations back years in the struggle to increase their standards of living.
“As climate stress intensifies, so do losses and damage inside vulnerable economies that lack the fiscal space to deal with disasters let alone invest in their own long-term development— The global slowdown will further expose developing countries to a cascade of debt, health, and climate crises.”
If the globe proceeds as is the world will lose 20 percent of its income by and push developing economies growth rate below 3 percent which the UN says is ‘insufficient for sustainable development’
Inaugural FinTech Conference on now in Barbados
By Sherrica Thompson
#Barbados, October 6, 2022 – Barbados is now hosting the first-ever global fintech conference in the Caribbean.
Over 300 delegates from across the globe and varying sectors within the industry will be attending the event. It began on Wednesday October 5, concluding October 7 and is being staged at the Hilton Barbados.
The Fintech Islands conference will feature renowned fintech leaders delivering key addresses and over 20 hours of curated content. The mandate of the event is to create a world-class event that will be a catalyst for the growth of the fintech ecosystem in the Caribbean.
One major highlight of the conference will be the welcome address by the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, who will also host an exclusive VIP meet and greet.
Some of the major themes of the event that are relevant to the context of the Caribbean venue are Financial Inclusion, Climate Fintech, Cryptocurrencies and Decentralised Finance and Embedded and Open Finance.
The event will have a range of speakers from founders, CEOs and fintech leaders from North America, Latin America (LATAM), Europe and Africa.
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