“I just feel like a burden has been lifted, I just couldn't do it anymore. I prayed to God that he would give me the strength to tell you and Phil.”
Rachel Ann Ebanks – explaining why she did not report a co-worker who she claims was stealing
(CMR) Rachel Ann Naomi Ebanks (nee Jefferson) (63) an accounts officer at the Cayman Turtle Conservation and Education Centre (CTC) made her first court appearance on January 25 after being formally charged with stealing over CI$300,000 from the government statutory entity.
It appears the prosecution case will be that Ebanks insatiable appetite for gambling led her down a dangerous path.
The theft is alleged to have occurred over at least four years and includes taking US$288,203.54 between August 2014 and August of 2018. She is also charged with taking a further CI$82,299.78 and false accounting to conceal and falsify records and documents in an attempt to cover her wrongdoing.
It is further alleged that between July 2013 and Dec 2017 cash handed to her to be deposited did not make it to the bank.
The investigation revealed that the matter came to light of KPMG auditors requested a sample cash receipt from the CTC restaurant. The Finance Manager at the CTC found the transaction in the deposit book but could not find it on the bank statement.
This anomaly led to him speaking directly to Ebanks about the matter. Ebanks claimed that she had noticed some money missing which she believed was stolen by a former co-worker, Simon Cook-Bodden, who had already been terminated in November 2014 for stealing a retail sales clerk's float.
Sharing that she was afraid of being called a liar and thief she decided to take out a $30,000 loan in order to pay back what Ebanks alleges was theft by Cook-Bodden. She noted that she was fearful that she would not be believed and it was going to be a matter of “his word against hers.”
At that point, the finance manager decided to involve the chief operating officer for an emergency meeting with Ebanks. However, she left the premises and indicated she would soon return. She did not return until after 7:00 pm that evening after some apparent delays.
During the January 18 meeting, she proceeded to repeat her allegations in a recorded interview about the loan and suspected theft by her co-worker. She also explained other missing money by nothing that the previous retail manager had requested cash pickup after her daily deposits were “overflowing”. Ebanks then took the money to her desk to process it and saw Cooks-Bodden lingering around.
She was asked why waited so long without reporting her suspicions she replied, “I prayed”. She borrowed money from three separate financial institutions in the Cayman Islands including Fidelity, Credit Union and Cayman National Bank.
A further PWC audit and review of the general ledger postings in 2018 revealed the depth of the money alleged to have been stolen.
The CEO of CTC was told that Ebanks was frequently purchasing numbers from “Loise Fay sister of Berman's wife” at the Caribbean Bakery in Mount Pleasant at times up to three times per day. A search warrant of her Mount Pleasant resident revealed a large array of documents relating to illegal gambling including receipts of number's buying, dream number books and Florida Power Play cards.
They also discovered a purchase agreement for property for CI$138,000 between Fitzgerald Lloyd McGregor and Rachel Ann Ebanks as the vendor. Ebanks was terminated in May 2018.
In an ironic twist, Ebanks served on the 2010-2012 Prisons Inspection Board and was a supporter of West Bay MP Captain Eugene Ebanks and more recently worked for MP Kathy Wilks in her constituency office. CMR understands she no longer works for Parliamentary Secretary Wilks.
The court has permitted her to travel for medical reasons but she is scheduled to appear in Summary Court on March 8, 2022.