The long-serving Premier of the offshore financial centre The Cayman Islands has been quietly replaced after his arrest on allegations of theft.
McKeeva Bush was in charge of the islands for 30 years, but was arrested in December on charges related to the use of a government credit card.
The allegations go back to 2004 and police in Cayman’s have already carried out an investigation into the matter in 2010.
Mr Bush also faces allegations of abuse of office, breach of trust and conflict of interest. He has announced that he plans to fight the allegations and originally fought off a challenge to have him stand-down while the case was proceeding.
However, Governor Duncan Taylor used his discretionary power under the constitution to revoke the premier’s appointment – a decision which was backed by Mr Bush’s party, the United Democratic Party.
First woman leader
Mr Bush has been replaced by Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, the island’s first woman leader.
The news has been welcomed by the Cayman Islands business and financial services industry with the leader of the Island’s Chamber of Trade Chris Duggan saying: “Political stability is vital for a democracy which is what this move brings.
“This has been a very tumultuous time for the people of the Cayman Islands.”
He added: “The chamber of commerce welcomes the new government and we will work with them to develop our economy.”
His views were echoed by the chairman of Cayman Finance, which promotes the Island’s financial services industry, Richard Coles.
He said: “These are serious allegations against Mr Bush and it is imperative that confidence in our legal and political system is maintained. It is right that he steps aside while the investigation continues.
“The financial services sector in the Cayman Islands operates independently of the government and the potential criminal charges do not have an impact on the government or the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority Cayman Islands Monetary Authority.”
Mr Coles added: “It is Cayman’s intolerance of any type of unethical behaviour regardless of who it is, which helps sets us apart from many other countries and helps make us a country to do business with.”
The Cayman Islands is now gearing up for an election in May and no charges yet have been brought against Mr Bush who has not made clear whether he will be standing for election.
Ms O’Connor-Connolly was also the Cayman’s first woman minister after she was elected in 1997.
She was born on Cayman Brac, started her career as a teacher before graduating from the University of Liverpool in law and then practising law in the Caymans before entering politics.