Utilities Regulator Issues a Demand for More Investigative Power

Article Snapshot

  • According to OfReg CEO Alee Fa’amoe, a staggering number of Cayman’s communications providers failed to provide information required by the Utility Competition and Regulation Office (OfReg) for a 2018 investigation.
  • To ensure that these companies do not go unchecked, the OfReg is asking the government to provide them with the power to obtain search warrants.
  • OfReg claims that this will allow future investigations of telecom companies/utility providers to be conducted smoothly and without protest.
  • The OfReg currently may obtain a judicial warrant if utilities companies are believed to be engaging in price fixing or other anti-competitive behaviors, but the 2018 investigation did not fall under this category.
  • Fa’amoe claims that this is reason enough to demand a change, although seeking a warrant is to be considered an “action of last resort.”
  • C3 Managing Director Randy Merren responded to the proposal by stating that he approves of OfReg having the power to investigate illegal practices with the power of search warrants, as long as they investigate all service providers – not just those that are licensed.

Impeded Investigation

The Utility Competition and Regulation Office (OfReg) is asking the government to provide them with the power to obtain search warrants after an investigation was impeded by an unwillingness to cooperate last year. According to OfReg CEO Alee Fa’amoe, a staggering number of Cayman’s communications providers failed to provide required information during an official investigation in 2018.

To ensure that these companies do not go unchecked, the OfReg is asking the government to provide them with the power to obtain search warrants.

Keeping Companies in Check

OfReg believes that the power to obtain search warrants will allow future investigations of telecom companies and utility providers to be conducted smoothly and without protest. The OfReg currently may obtain a judicial warrant if utilities companies are believed to be engaging in price fixing or other anti-competitive behaviors, but the 2018 investigation did not fall under this category. This is, according to Fa’amoe, reason enough to demand a change, although seeking a warrant is to be considered an “action of last resort.”

“In the past year, OfReg came to the tentative conclusion that some of the sectoral providers in the Information and Communication Technology sector did not fully and properly provide information requested by and needed for an investigation by OfReg; an investigation which did not involve anti-competitive behaviour,” he said. “To better ensure the cooperation of the sectoral provider, OfReg concluded that the additional measure of potentially seeking the assistance of the Court to obtain information from their premises would serve the public interest.”

Calling All Service Providers

C3 Managing Director Randy Merren responded to the proposal by stating that he approves of OfReg having the power to investigate illegal practices with the power of search warrants, as long as they investigate all service providers – not just those that are licensed.

“What about the people who are unlicensed? Are they going to open investigations on them as well?” asked Merren, in reference to Cayman’s unlicensed telecom and television providers. In the interest of public safety, OfReg hopes to be able conduct all future investigations transparently and without resistance.