Archive for August 11th, 2008

Escapees back in custody

| 11/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): All 23 Cuban migrants who escaped from the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) last Thursday night (7 August), are now back in custody, officials at the Immigration Department have confirmed. Acting Chief Immigration Officer Kerry Nixon praised Immigration officers and members of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) for resolving this situation quickly and effectively. She also thanked members of the public for their vigilance and cooperation.

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CAL looking at smaller jets

| 11/08/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Cayman Airways Limited (CAL) is negotiating with a number of companies for the acquisition of two 70-seater jet planes, to be brought on line this winter season, Sister Islands MLA Moses Kirkconnell has said. The airline is looking at new routes that the smaller planes could service, as well as flights to Cayman Brac, which would provide more tools to attract tourists and build the economy, he said.

With the current rise on fuel prices, airlines are sizing planes with routes, and CAL was following suit, Kirkconnell told about 200 people gathered at a public meeting outside Kirkconnell’s Market on Cayman Brac Thursday night. He said the management of CAL had been directed to look at how to meet the needs of Cayman Brac and initially looked at a turbo-prop plane, the Saab 2000. However, with oil prices climbing every day, it was decided that this was no longer the best option.

The Board and management of CAL was now looking at 70-seater jets to service routes between the Brac and South Florida, most likely Miami, starting December, so that private business could build on the island. With the new planes, the Brac would be less isolated and would be a better destination and a lot better place to do business, Kirkconnell maintained.

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No acceptable level of corruption

| 11/08/2008 | 0 Comments

The public has been offering information about alleged irregularities within the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) since the announcement about the independent investigation into police corruption was first made last March. Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger said the very next day he started to get phone calls raising concerns about corruption and other integrity issues.

A large number of people have contacted him, many from within the police itself, and continue to do so, Bridger told people at the first public meeting about the investigation, held on Friday afternoon, 8 August, on Cayman Brac at the Seamen’s and Veterans’ Centre. Five separate people had called him that day, he said, emphasising that he would never indicate who or about what. Now, he is assessing the intelligence and will look at each allegation.

When people do have the courage to come forward, they must be supported all the way, even possibly to court. “If they’ve shown courage then we must help them through the process.”

However, he continued, “If I went home tomorrow, I will not have made a lot of difference. This is not just about my team arresting individuals and then going away.” One thing that has been learned from similar processes in the UK and in Northern Ireland is that you must leave a better police service for the future, Bridger noted.

Dealing with corruption in London’s Metropolitan Police Service, he said some officers went to jail, “but what we didn’t do was look carefully at the preventative side.” On the other hand, it is not possible to start with prevention without dealing with the corruption first, and he was satisfied that the process was on the correct path, he said.

In answer to a question from a member of the public about whether, given the response, there would be a permanent office set up to investigate the police, Bridger said that there had been preliminary discussions within government.

In the UK, an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has its own officers and its own lawyers, he explained. Bridger also has experience in the Police Ombudsman’s Office in Northern Ireland, where he said they investigated everything from incivility right up to murder.

“The police have a unique culture. When you’re working with people day and night and share experiences, and you see colleagues doing something they shouldn’t, it’s really hard to report it.”

Answering a question about the difficulties of policing in a small community, even for an independent department, Bridger again drew on his experience in Northern Ireland  as precedent. There was more to be done regarding the leadership in the RCIPS to establish the ethics and values, and what is acceptable. “If we get the organisation functioning properly, there will not be so many complaints,” he said.

“There is no acceptable level of corruption,” Bridger told CNS after the meeting. He asked if, hypothetically, a police officer helped a person who was legitimately put under arrest for such crimes as gambling or drinking and driving, where would it stop? When would the crimes become too serious and who would make that decision?

“It leads to confusion and there must be clarity. Police officers swear an oath to uphold the law and the community must have expectations that they will uphold it without fear or favour. The law is the law,” he said.

Anyone who has information related to any of the enquiries can call Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger on 927 2981.

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Police Chief to be interviewed soon

| 11/08/2008 | 0 Comments

At a public meeting on Cayman Brac on Friday, Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger indicated that he would be interviewing Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan in the near future in relation to the independent special investigation into police corruption.

Bridger was responding to a question from Spot Bay resident Hindenberg Dixon, the father of Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolf Dixon, who is facing a number of charges in relation to the investigation. DPC Dixon, together with Kernohan and Chief Superintendent John Jones, were placed on required leave in March this year pending the investigation, and Hindenberg Dixon wanted to know why Kernohan and Jones had been allowed to go to England while his son was facing charges in court, suggesting that the three were not being dealt with evenly.

“I ever were law abiding and had respect for my government and think that’s why (Rudolf Dixon) fell into the police business at 17,” said Dixon. “I feel that if he made a mistake, then he made a mistake, but all three should go through the punishment.”

Bridger explained at the meeting that he was now managing three investigations, one involving former Cayman Net News employee Lyndon Martin, one involving Kernohan and Jones and a third involving Dixon, and the investigations were not at the same stage.

Recapping the situation, Bridger said he had been asked to conduct the special investigation because of allegations of a systematic leak of daily police operations that, if true, could put police officers in jeopardy. Kernohan had made the decision, supported by the Governor, to seek outside assistance.

These allegations made by Martin against Net News Publisher Desmond Seales and DPC Anthony Ennis were found to be “a tissue of lies”, said Bridger, and Martin is now facing charges relating to lying to police and a range of other offenses.

Regarding Seales, he said, “I have listened to rumour, innuendo and mischief making, but in the end I have to go with the facts, which are that he was unfairly accused.” While it soon became clear that the allegations didn’t add up, the events leading up to the entry into Seales’ office by Net News employee on 3 September led to the suspension of Kernohan and Jones.

As he was investigating the original allegations, people came forward with additional allegations against other individuals including Rudolf Dixon, said Bridger, refusing to discuss the charges, which are now before the  courts.

Kernohan is still in the UK on compassionate leave. However, while he was not yet ready to interview him, he said it “won’t be too long”.

Anyone who has information related to any of the enquiries can call Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger on 927 2981.

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Executives face court over fuel surcharge fixing

| 11/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(The Guardian): Four current and former British Airways executives face up to five years in jail after being charged with price-fixing offences yesterday, paving the way for the UK’s most high-profile cartel trial. The case will be the biggest criminal prosecution yet under the 2002 Enterprise Act and will bring further embarrassment for BA and Virgin Atlantic, who have admitted colluding over setting fuel surcharges on flights. Go To article

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Market should control gas prices

| 11/08/2008 | 0 Comments

The government’s decision to have oil distributors notify the Chief Petroleum Inspector before increasing their prices goes against the principles of a free market, is biased against the oil companies and will not address the problem of escalating fuel costs, says Alan Neesome, Country Manager of Esso. “Competition is to the benefit of all consumers and Governments must promote equal treatment among market players, industries, technologies and favour policies that enhance competitiveness,” said Neesome on Friday.

Responding to the government announcement that they would be making changes to the Dangerous Substances Handling and Storage Law (2003) to regulate the process by which the wholesale distributors of gasoline and diesel products can increase their wholesale prices, Neesome made it clear this was not a welcomed move. "It is evident from comparing regulated oil markets with free markets that consumers are best served by allowing market forces to determine fuel prices. Government policies that minimise interference in the free market system are the best course to ensure adequate supplies,” added Neesome.

He explained that while many people assume wholesale or retail regulations protect consumers from higher prices, more often than not such market distortions undermine service, supply and reliability by encouraging gasoline consumption and discouraging investment. But above all the government would not prevent international price variation from impacting local prices.

Neesome said that Esso already looks for the most economic sources of supply based on well-known public and transparent reference pricing systems, which include the cost of products, service fees for the coordination of supplies, quality inspections, insurance and marine transportation.  

“These efficiencies, obtained in a free market system, have been transferred to wholesale prices. If the government is planning to relate just international prices with wholesale prices, they could well be higher as the competitive element is being removed.  The petroleum business is a very complex industry and these changes must be discussed with the oil industry,” Neesome noted.

He believed that Esso could help government by bringing its experience and international best practices to the table to work with the authorities in their efforts to look for the best solution for all Caymanians, given the global volatility. Profit margins were always adversely affected in times like these and the government’s regulations could have the opposite effect to the stated intent by causing higher pricing, as has happened in many regulated markets around the region, he said.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said on Thursday, 7 August, that while the government couldn’t control the global oil problem they could at least examine the local situation. However, Neesome noted that as international price variations are not under the control of the Cayman Islands Government and that is what controls the price at the pumps, price regulation in Cayman could not prevent the price volatility. If international prices continue to increase, the regulation can’t stop the corresponding impact being passed on to end-consumers. With many other national governments seeking to deregulate their petroleum industries, Neesome said consumers in those countries have benefited by having adequate fuel supplies at competitive prices to support economic growth.  

“Governments should not backtrack on these important gains as a political response to recent volatility in crude oil and finished product prices,” Neesome added.

He also sought to remind government that Esso has long been a good corporate citizen in Cayman, committed to contributing to the development of the islands and that the facilities had been continuously improved, with important investments like a new vessel anchoring system in 2000, new submarine pipelines in 2003 and the major redevelopment after Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.

“In this reconstruction Esso incorporated the latest technology available. Promptly  after Hurricane Ivan, Esso sent an emergency team to Grand Cayman with many  pieces  of equipment and spare parts, including several  power generators to resume activities at the terminal, supply CUC immediately  and put back into operations several service stations in order to  provide energy to the people of Grand Cayman,” Neesome noted, adding that any attempt from the government to limit profit margins would limit Esso’s availability to make necessary investments, which in the long run would be detrimental for the country and consumers.

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