Archive for October 6th, 2008

Stocks plummet

| 06/10/2008 | 0 Comments

(Reuters): Stocks slid more than 6 percent on Monday (6 October), with the Dow diving to its lowest level in almost five years, on fears the global economy was hurtling into recession despite government efforts to contain the fast-spreading financial crisis. Wall Street’s drop was part of a global sell-off, and as severe as the U.S. losses were, they paled in comparison to sharp declines across Europe and in emerging markets. In Russia, Brazil and Peru, trading was temporarily suspended. Go to article

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Fallout, Bailout and the Cayman Islands

| 06/10/2008 | 4 Comments

The fallout in the US financial markets as well as the bailout plan will not only impact US markets and other onshore economies. It has potential ramifications offshore as well and certainly in the Cayman Islands.

To be certain most economists see the bailout plan as essential to preventing an outright crash in the US financial markets. Others, while viewing the rescue plan as a necessary evil strongly believe that the US economy, irrespective of the bailout plan, is set for a rough ride in several respects. But if that is the consensus, as it seems to be, then there are also clear potential risks faced by a jurisdiction such as the Cayman Islands.  

The Cayman Islands are potentially affected in three ways; first via the financial market crisis which has a wider economic impact within the US far beyond Wall Street and therefore the Cayman Islands, secondly via the bailout plan itself which includes amendments to US legislation aimed at improving revenue measures for the US Treasury, and finally as a result of a possible post-crisis push for additional regulations aimed at preventing a future crisis.

In its most simplistic form, the wider economic fallout within the US clearly poses a threat to the Cayman Islands economy generally due to the heavy reliance on North America in the areas of tourism and trade generally. As wealthy (and ordinary) American citizens experience serious erosion in their wealth, the Cayman Islands should expect to see a reduction in US based travel to, and spending and investment (for example via real estate) in, the Cayman Islands economy. If you subscribe to the view that the US economy has not yet seen the very bottom, at least this much should be expected in the Cayman Islands over the short to medium term.

A more intricate impact of the fallout is also expected within the Cayman Islands offshore financial services sector as well. In fact, anecdotal evidence suggests that some service providers are already seeing both positive and negative changes as a result of the fallout.

Generally speaking, the crisis is unlikely to have any major impact on the local capital markets in the Cayman Islands, which is relatively small anyway and almost entirely dominated by banks as the main channel of financial intermediation. This is because the majority of activity in the Cayman Islands financial sector relates to provision of services to various financial services entities, rather than a direct involvement in the onshore financial markets. The major impact will therefore depend on a) whether the various entities are reduced significantly as a result of the crisis or b) in the case of entities which generate fees (and indirectly employment) on the basis of market values such as in the case of fund or trust administration, whether there is serious erosion in value of assets under administration. This is particularly an issue as fund managers may start to switch to cash partially in preparation for a possible increase in redemptions in the fourth quarter as well as partially due to their decision to hold cash as a safety net against negative market movements in their current investments, thereby creating a vicious downward cycle on the financial markets.

In the case of the funds sector, anecdotal evidence indicates that we are already losing some funds as a result of the crisis. But new funds will also be created as investment managers onshore pounce on opportunities in the current state of the financial markets, especially with the key assumption that the US bailout plan will go ahead in some form or another.

Most experts believe that the insurance markets in the US will see hardened market and pricing as a result of the crisis and following the US government takeover of its largest national insurer AIG. As a leading jurisdiction for creation and management of captive insurance companies, on the one hand we might expect that the hard market conditions would be ideal for some new captive formations. But this also has to be offset by the general conditions in the US regarding access to capital as well as the potential difficulty gaining access to reinsurance. In the case of our captive industry, we may well not see much of a change at all in the short term.

There are potential opportunities in the area of liquidations as vehicles are wound up whether by force or on a voluntary basis, so out of the crisis there may be some additional revenues for firms in the Cayman Islands providing these types of services.

How might the US ‘rescue plan’ affect the Cayman Islands? Ironically, while it does reduce the wider economic risks for the Cayman Islands, the US bailout plan itself could also introduce a new threat to the Cayman Islands.

US Senators have taken every opportunity to use the bailout plan to introduce other measures as part of the negotiations on whether the Bill receives full support or not. Among these are provisions within the draft bill that are targeted at changing the tax treatment of deferred compensation paid through accounts in jurisdictions like the Cayman Islands.

These provisions are contained within Title 8 of the draft bill entitled ‘Spending reductions and appropriate revenue raisers for new tax relief policy’ which spans its final pages from page 442 onwards. The provisions within this section have yet to be analysed in detail, but should be examined further as tax deferment remains at the heart of the business rationale of many offshore strategies. The Cayman Islands would do well to look at these provisions very carefully as they clearly could have very wide economic ramifications for the jurisdiction in the absence of a counter strategy.

To the extent that additional regulation follows the bailout plan, we should also expect to see a corresponding ‘global’ push for some changes to the way some financial institutions are regulated which will inevitably be pushed on regulators in many countries, including the Cayman Islands. Just how much additional regulation and in what areas is yet to be determined as US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has for the most part, so far rejected a straight knee-jerk reaction to the regulatory actions stemming from the crisis.

The Title 8 provisions aside, there is no question as to whether the financial crisis will impact the Cayman Islands. It already is. The key thing to be prepared for is the wider short to medium term economic impact which is expected to be negative, while monitoring developments in the US to ensure that the negative impact of the fallout, bailout and any additional regulation on the local industry is minimised.  

Paul Byles is a local economist and consultant with Focus Corporate Services & Consulting

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Civil service faces nomination

| 06/10/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Having initiated the programme last year to motivate a higher level of service among civil servants H.E the Governor Stuart launched the second annual FACE nominations this morning, (6 October) saying he hoped it would continue to showcase the good work of the civil service. “As the award enters its second year, I am happy to report significant successes,” he said.


“The enthusiastic response that met this award certainly exceeded even our most optimistic expectations, for as you might recall, we received over 300 nominations. Naturally I do hope that this year’s reaction will surpass those figures, and that everyone will take the time to nominate the civil servants they believe have demonstrated stellar customer service.”

He said that while FACE (Five-Star Award for Customer Excellence) is an award the programme is about the Cayman Islands Government’s ongoing commitment to foster and maintain superior customer service.

Head of Portfolio of the Civil Service Mary Rodrigues said FACE was created to be an ongoing programme to encourage, motivate and support all civil servants so they can continually improve their standards of public service delivery. “This year we are adding customer service training for staff, managers and leaders, through the Civil Service College.  The contents will break away from traditional classroom sessions, and instead will empower people with the skills and techniques to gauge their impact on customers, and mould their service delivery accordingly,” she said.

“Literally, everything we do, should be directed with one objective clearly in mind- pleasing our customers- the public,”added Rodrigues. “It cannot be an add-on, and it certainly means more than just receiving a friendly greeting at the counter. Good customer service starts with an understanding of what your agency is about, and how your service enhances the community.”

She said by providing the necessary support and training civil servants will be able to garner the necessary knowledge and the FACE programme will encourage the public sector to embrace customer feedback.

“We shouldn’t be apprehensive about hearing what people have to say about us. Instead, we should create an interface with our clients, allowing them to have a voice. This will help us in the public sector to establish a meaningful course and will permit better planning for effective service delivery,” Rodrigues noted.

Both she and the Governor encouraged the public to nominate all those who they thought  exemplified service, commitment and dedication.

The FACE nomination period will end on 15 November and nominees will be honoured at a reception at Government House. The Governor said that this year’s nomination form is designed so that people can share details of their customer service stories and that there is no better way of showing your appreciation than to publicly acknowledge it.

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Caymanians graduate into tourism careers

| 06/10/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): With the aim of bringing a more distinct cultural flavour to local tourism products and services by generating a greater supply of qualified Caymanian workers the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) teamed up with the Ministry of Tourism’s Apprentice Training Programme to offer professional certification through CARIBCERT to the apprentices.


Administered by the CITA, CARIBCERT is a knowledge and skill development programme that culminates in professional recognition for tourism workers in 50 occupations. The goal is to raise the level of professional competency within the tourism workforce in Cayman and give much needed stability to the industry. To date, the CARIBCERT program has been implemented in Bahamas, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, St. Maarten and Curacao.

Apprentices are placed at various CITA member hotels and restaurants throughout the Island where skilled professionals mentor them as they further develop their skills and competencies.  “It is truly a great opportunity to be a mentor in a hospitality program where the students receive real hands on experience,” said Steven Hayes, General Manager of Breezes by the Bay.

Dan Sydlowski, CITA Board Member and Co-Chairman of the Tourism Apprenticeship Training Advisory Council, placed several Apprentices at the Westin Casuarina where his managerial staff took on the role of personal supervisor to many of the Apprentices accessing their performance using a checklist of CARIBCERT standards.

 “It is great to see existing associates in the hospitality industry have the opportunity to advance in their careers through this program” said Sydlowski.  “It is also encouraging and rewarding to get local students involved in hospitality. We provide the work experience opportunity to prepare them for the workplace environment once they have completed the Caribcert Program. They are better prepared to succeed than if they had classroomonly curriculums.”

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NDC to set out drug plan

| 06/10/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With the misuse of drugs continuing to have a negative impact on the Cayman Islands community as a whole, the National Drug Council (NDC) will be hosting the 2008 National Anti‐Drug Strategic Planning Meeting this week where it will present a draft of its Anti‐Drug Strategy for the Cayman Islands for 2009‐2013.

The meeting will take place 8 & 9 October at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, and will bring together all relevant entities involved in reducing the incidence and prevalence of substance abuse in the Cayman Islands.

Executive Director of the NDC Joan West‐Dacres said that much work has been done in the past to address the issue of drugs and their social, economic and health related impacts since the original plan of 1995‐1999. “However, the negative consequences of drug use, abuse and trafficking affect not only individuals who use or abuse drugs but also their families and friends, businesses, and government resources and the stability of the country on a whole,” she added. Although many of these effects cannot be quantified, the economic cost of drug abuse to the Cayman Islands in terms of lost wages, illness, crime and violence should not be set aside.”

The draft of the National Anti‐Drug Strategy for the Cayman Islands is a strategic framework to address the unique drug control needs of the Cayman Islands in both demand reduction and supply reduction. West Dares said the broad’s consultative approach taken in the development of the document seeks to ensure that the most comprehensive tools for addressing the national drug situation have been considered and articulated.

“Through ongoing annual strategic meetings and stakeholder contacts, the NDC continues to be made aware of the need for a more coordinated, proactive and integrated approach to the issues of drug control. It is essential for coordination to occur and for effective and sound financial spending in regards to matters of a National Anti‐Drug Plan and we are excited about the revitalization of a National Strategy.”

This two‐day meeting will be facilitated by Dr. Ken‐Garfield Douglas a regional technical advisor and consultant who has assisted with the development of this strategic framework.

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Cayman to host fund talking shop

| 06/10/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following its first successful appearance in the Cayman Islands the International Funds Conference is coming back in January. According to organizers this year’s conference is not just on the risks, but also the opportunities and solutions to the current market turmoil as investors look towards the future and plan their strategies.

 “Topics will cover a wide variety of issues from regulatory requirements and due diligence to economic outlooks and Credit Default Swaps” says  Chris Lumsden Head of Fund Services for Cayman National Financial Group, (pictured) “It is the opportunity to interact face to face with some of the best and brightest minds in the industry that really motivates people to attend.”

Last year’s event was met with enthusiasm and support sponsors are coming back for a second round. “I think everyone was impressed last year that we were able to put together such a remarkable list of internationally respected speakers and panelists in Cayman for a first year event,” says Anthony Akiwumi, Head of Litigation at Stuarts Walker Hersant (SWH).  

SWH is one of three co-sponsors of this event, the other companies being Cayman National Fund Services (CNFS) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).  Because the previous conference was so well received it was an easy decision for the sponsors to repeat the event in Cayman in 2009. According to David Walker, Partner at PwC, this year’s event has an equally impressive roster of speakers as last year, and even greater representation from overseas.

 “It is a real testament to the success of our first conference that we have been able to secure such a talented and respected roster of speakers, and that pre-booking of attendees is well ahead of last year’s pace,” he added.

 Opening on 9 January at the Ritz Carlton the one day event will see a range of speakers local and overseas offering their expertise and experience and discussing topical issues such as Successful investing in time of turmoil lessons from failed Hedge Funds and the potential threats and opportunities for financial services. More information on the conference, including speaker bios and the agenda are available online at


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Law firm adds to services and trophy cabinet

| 06/10/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Owing to market demand from high net worth individuals offshore legal and fiduciary service firm Ogier has announced the creation of a new string to its bow. Aimed at providing personalised wealth planning services to the ultra rich and family businesses Ogier Private Wealth, will provide a wide range of tailored solutions.

The services will include the establishment and administration of trusts and private trust companies, the creation and administration of employer-funded structures, real estate advice and the formation and administration of investment funds – particularly in the area of private funds.

Jonathan White Ogier Group Chairman said that Ogier already has an outstanding track record in the provision of legal and administration services to the private client market.

“Through the launch of Ogier Private Wealth we are bringing together a number of related services and forming a dedicated team that will focus on providing our clients with the widest range of wealth planning solutions,” he added.

Ogier Private Wealth will comprise 20 lawyers and 50 professional administrators across Ogier’s nine offices, a network that serves all time zones and major financial centres. Ogier said that it is unique in the offshore world in that it is the only offshore firm that has a substantive presence in each of the four leading offshore centres – BVI, Cayman, Guernsey and Jersey.

Philip Norman, Partner and Head of Private Client Administration at Ogier explained what had driven the creation of the new service.

"We have seen an increasing number of individuals and families with significant wealth creating new structures, often involving a private trust company utilising a number of jurisdictions, either for succession planning purposes or for the receipt of contributions from their employers, as well as Eastern European and Middle Eastern clients investing into western markets, through real estate or fund vehicles,” he said.” A significant number of these clients are expressing a strong preference to work with an independent trust company and we believe Ogier Private Wealth fulfils that need.”

Meanwhile the firm’s Investment Funds Team walked away with a coveted hedge fund industry award last month. The Hedge Fund Journal awarded Ogier “Offshore Law Firm of the Year 2008” by a panel who judged contenders for the award based on innovative transactions and ground-breaking work. Ogier picked up this award for the 2007 Absolute Capital restructuring, which was the first fund restructuring of its kind to be carried out in the public eye.  Rod Sparks, publisher of The Hedge Fund Journal congratulated Ogier on the win, noting one of the main reason for the panel’s choice.

“In giving our Offshore Law Firm award to Ogier we seek to acknowledge the very significant strides taken by Ogier to build-out its hedge fund practice in the top offshore centres," he said.  "Mention should also be made of the work done by Peter Cockhill and his team who executed a significant fund restructuring, which has signalled a change in the way hedge funds react to liquidity issues brought on by accelerated redemption requests.”

James Bergstrom and Peter Cockhill, co-heads of Ogier’s Global Investment Funds practice were delighted to accept the award, presented at the Guggenheim museum in New York.  “Receiving The Hedge Fund Journal in both the European and the North American markets in a single year, based on our team’s ability to provide innovative solutions to our clients is important to us,” they noted. “Our strength across continents and our sustained and steady growth has continued to gain us these awards from industry commentators and our clients and it is a tribute to our entire investment funds team to receive it.”




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Health facilities ready

| 06/10/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): In a message to mark the World Health Organization’s International Day for Disaster Reduction, today 6 October, the Minister for Health and Human Services, Anthony Eden said that Cayman’s hospitals and healthcare systems are able to respond to any disaster orcrisis scenario, natural or manmade.

The World Disaster Reduction Campaign for 2008-2009 focuses on making "Hospitals Safe from Disasters" and the minister said that the importance of hospitals and health facilities extends beyond the direct life-saving role they play.

“They are also powerful symbols of social progress and a prerequisite for social stability and economic development, “he said. “Hospitals and health facilities need to remain functional during disasters. The human cost of a possible hospital failure is made very clear in the aftermath of disasters, when the immediate focus is on fatalities, search and rescue, and the need to tend to the injured. “

He added that being aware of their importance the Cayman Islands government has taken measures to ensure the resilience of the local healthcare system.

“Public and private sector coordinate resources, personnel and efforts to ensure a coordinated national medical response to needs which arise in the event of a natural disaster,” the Minister explained. “Steps have also been taken to enhance the capabilities of the Cayman Islands Hospital, being the major healthcare facility on the island. Recently a mobile Disaster Response Unit was purchased to increase the capability of the medical team to set up a mobile medical facility at the scene of any disaster, and render vitally necessary medical care onsite, reducing the need to transfer to the hospital, thereby potentially saving valuable time and precious lives.”

He said the hospital now has flood barriers to protect the main generator to ensure continuity of electrical supply and medical care in the event of a loss of power as occurred during hurricane Ivan.

“Everyone will remember that in spite of the significant toll exacted by Hurricane Ivan on our infrastructure, the two main hospitals and for the most part many of our private sector healthcare facilities withstood the worst of the devastating effects,” Eden added. “As Minister of Health, I assure you that we are doing our part to make our hospitals safe from disasters, and commend all those who work to make them so.”



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OCC to audit Internal Complaints Processes

| 06/10/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Following a three-year programme by the Office of the Complaints Commissioner (OCC) to encourage each government department and agency to implement or review their internal complaints process (ICP), Complaints Commissioner Dr John Epp has initiated an Own Motion Investigation to audit those ICPs.

“Our review of the complaints processes was based on interviews and surveys of the government entities, and at the end of the programme we found that all 70 departments that should have a formal ICP now has in place either a formal or an informal complaints process,” explained Epp. “The purpose of this investigation is to see how those ICPs actually function.”

An ICP gives each entity an opportunity to assess the quality and timeliness of the service that it provides to the public, and provides information about how to improve delivery of its services.
An internal complaints process allows the organisation to gain valuable information from the people it serves, and therefore to improve its reputation. Information given by people complaining comes free of charge and often contains useful criticism, and an organisation that listens and corrects any errors, will be spoken of well by those who once were dissatisfied. It will also gain the respect of the broader community.

It is the duty of governmental organisations to serve the public. It is the role of civil servants to serve in a courteous and competent manner, and an internal complaints process will aid in achieving these service outcomes. All complaints may have value; even frivolous complaints, or complaints made in bad faith, can inform management of the challenges faced by employees.

An ICP must be accessible, with simple instructions about how to make a complaint. These instructions should be made available via websites, posters and/or brochures in each entity reception area, and any other mediums that promote the functions of the various government offices.

The instructions should clearly identify the designated officers handling complaints and explain the process. The various ways in which a complaint may be registered should be stated, such as by telephone, fax, email, inperson or by regular post. If a complainant wishes to make a complaint in person, they should be able to do so in private, and complainants with disabilities and literacy difficulties should be given special consideration.

At all times it should be emphasised that complaints or comments are welcomed by the public body as a means of improving the quality of service provided.

The complaints process should also be simple, with as few stages in the complaint handling process as possible, and targets should be set for acknowledging receipt of complaints and the completion of their examination. Where it is not possible to meet the target for completion, interim letters updating the complainant on progress should be issued. In order to provide maximum efficiency in addressing complaints, a person at a managerial level should be actively involved in complaint resolution.

It is also essential that the process is credible to the public. Complaints that have not been resolved by the original decision maker should be examined objectively by someone not involved with the original decisions or actions.

All complaints should be treated in confidence (except where the complainant wishes otherwise). The public should be assured that making a complaint will not adversely affect their future dealings and contacts with the entity concerned. Correspondence about the complaint should be filed separately from other information held on the complainant as a client of the entity.

The internal complaints process must include a degree of flexibility. The process may not be suitable for some unanticipated reason, for example if the complaint is so sensitive and grave that only the head of the organisation might properly receive it.

Each organisation should include in its performance measurements targets for the addressing of complaints through its internal process. These should include targets such as the number of hours within which a telephone message left at the complaints desk is answered, the number of days within which a letter is sent to the complainant, and the number of days within which the complaint must be investigated. In addition, a target should be set concerning the preparation and communication of the result of the investigation.

“The aim of this audit of ICPs is to review the complaints process each government entity now has in place and to show where it should be improved upon,” said Epp. “The ultimate goal is to provide each department with the tools to constantly provide a better service, which will in turn lead to a more efficient system throughout the public sector.”

The OCC is located on the 2nd floor, 202 Piccadilly Centre, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, phone number (345) 943 2220. The website is

The aim of the OCC is to investigate in a fair and independent manner complaints against government to ascertain whether injustice has been caused by improper, unreasonable, or inadequate government administrative conduct, and to ascertain the inequitable or unreasonable nature or operation of any enactment or rule of law.

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Machete robbery at Esso

| 06/10/2008 | 2 Comments

(CNS): A man armed with a machete robbed a George Town Gas station in the early hours of this morning (Monday, October 6) making it the sixth violent robbery since the end of July in Grand Cayman. Police said that the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call from a security guard at On the Run Esso on Dorcy Drive at around 4:40 am reporting that a man had robbed the store.

Officers responded to the scene and were told that shortly before the 911 call was made a man with his face covered who was carrying a machete entered the store and demanded the cashier hand over money. The offender swung the machete at the worker, who ran from behind the counter to the back of the store. The offender then went behind the counter, took some money that was accessible to him and left the store. Hemade off on a bicycle in the direction of North Sound Road. There were two other workers and one customer in the store at the time. The clerk suffered a minor scrape to his arm which did not require medical attention.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police service said eye witnesses described the offender as 5ft 6ins – 5ft 7ins tall, of medium build and dark complexion. He was wearing a black T-shirt, light blue jeans and white sneakers while his face was covered with a black shirt so only his eyes could be seen but he spoke with a Caymanian accent.

Anyone who was in the area at the time who saw the offender and anyone who recognizes the description should contact George Town CID on 949-4222 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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