(CMR) Host of The Cold Hard Truth, Sandra Hill, has raised concerns about the removal of former Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn from the Ministry of Sustainability and Climate Resiliency. Hill has called on the Deputy Governor and Governor to intervene in what she says is unlawful political interference contrary to section 55 of the Cayman Islands Constitution Order.
Speaking on Tuesday, Hill pointed out that Ahearn has been the primary government contact for overseeing the ReGen waste management agreement, which has been steadily progressing with an expected 2027 deployment date. Exclusive sources revealed that the Honourable Minister Kathy Wilks has refused to work with Ahearn, prompting CIG to move her out of the ministry and replace her with Neyka Webster, a trained accountant who has only been with the ministry for several months.
Sources revealed that Wilks was instructed by other ministers to make the move; which is designed to appease developers.
Hill explained that the explanation given for Ahearn's removal is that there is a conflict of interest between her husband's law firm, Denton Cayman, and the project. The affiliated Denton London office has been retained by Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) to advise of the Power Purchase Agreement for the project.
CUC is seeking to purchase excess power that would be generated from the waste management facility.
However, investigations have revealed there is no conflict of interest as the local office and the London office do not share work with each other, and specifically, there's no collusion on this matter.
Ironically, it was Ahearn who brought the potential conflict to the attention of the Attorney General and former Premier Wayne Panton last year. CMR understands that the AG carried out a review and found that no conflict existed. However, out of an abundance of caution, a Chinese Wall was implemented to safeguard all parties.
Hill questioned what was the real reason that the decision was made to remove Ahearn from the ministry as opposed to just the ReGen project and shared that her sources informed her it was to create no opposition to pending changes to The National Conservation Law. Although the UPM government has made no public comment on the matter, it is understood that discussions were underway this weekend when Caucus met in Cayman Brac to water down the law to ensure it's completely ineffective.
Ahern has been Chief Officer in the Ministry since 2021 and has been working with the government for over 20 years. She has also worked as Chief Officer with former premier Sir Alden McLaughlin.