Suspended ERA managing director vows to fight back
Suspended this past weekend from his post as managing director of the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), Joey Ebanks is vowing to fight back against the purported “alleged misconduct and abuse”, cited in a letter he received from His Excellency the Governor in Cabinet.
Mr Ebanks began his fight back this past weekend on Facebook, where he disclosed he had been suspended, and in several posts, alluded to having damaging information that could be used against other public officials.
In one post he stated that there were questions for the governor to answer about who sat on the selection committee for the post of auditor general and became the disciplinary unit for the judiciary.
“This signed letter you sent me…you are going to wish you had ate (sic) it,” Mr Ebanks warned the governor on his Facebook post.
Mr Ebanks also made reference to North Side and East End MLAs Ezzard Miller and Arden McLean in separate Facebook posts, hinting that he had compromising information regarding both MLAs.
Mr Ebanks was in the news last month, with the announcement that the ERA had awarded DECCO, one of Dart Enterprise’s companies, the winning bid to develop 36 MegaWatt of power generation capacity for Grand Cayman. DECCO is expected to enter into negotiations with Caribbean Utilities Company CUC for a power purchase agreement.
“The decision by the ERA to introduce competition in the generation of electricity is an important first step forward for the country,” Mr Ebanks said in a press statement at the time.
Both the ERA and the office of the Auditor General confirmed today (Monday, 4 March) in separate press statements that Mr Ebanks had been suspended.
“His Excellency the Governor in Cabinet has suspended the Managing Director of the Electricity Regulatory Authority, Mr Joseph Ebanks and relieved him of all duties related to his position in the organisation. The decision was based on the preliminary findings by the Auditor General from his investigation into some inappropriate financial transactions, which was reported to the Board of Directors of the ERA on Thursday February 28th 2013. The Board unanimously supported the recommendations of the Auditor General following his preliminary report. The Auditor General’s findings are being provided to the Financial Crimes Unit of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service to investigate further,” the ERA statement read.
The authority added that Mr Louis Boucher has been appointed as the acting Managing Director of the ERA.
According to the statement from the Office of the Auditor General, auditing of the financial statements of the ERA for 30 June 2013 had been taking place when it came to the attention of the auditors that there were some irregular financial transactions.
“The Board of Directors was notified of the findings on 28 February 2013 and action was taken to protect the assets of the ERA. It is the Authority’s responsibility to refer these matters to enforcement agencies such as the Financial Crimes Unit of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service,” the OAG confirmed.
“The Office of the Auditor General will assess the impact of these matters on the current audit of the ERA as they develop,” the statement added.
When contacted, Mr Ebanks confirmed to Cayman Net News that he understood his suspension was in relation to “alleged misconduct of office duties”.
It is understood that the matter involves travel charges for a trip to Jamaica, around the time that former premier McKeeva Bush was expected to receive an honorary doctorate degree from the University of the Caribbean last December.
A former managing director at Boatswain’s Beach (Cayman Turtle Farm), Mr Ebanks was embroiled in another investigation with the Office of the Auditor General in 2009, at that time regarding salary advances he had taken at the facility, as well as questions surrounding bar tabs under his watch. He contested the 2009 election, running against Ezzard Miller in North Side.