Archive for November 27th, 2008

Constitutional talks delayed

| 27/11/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Leader of Government Business announced this morning that the second round of constitutional talks has been postponed over fears that the Opposition team may not have shown up followingcomments made by two of its members to radio talks shows. Kurt Tibbetts said that although the opposition had not told government they wanted to postpone Juliana O’Connor Connolly had stated she could not come because she was still needed on Cayman Brac.

Speaking at the live cabinet press briefing on Thursday 27 November Tibbetts said that the position taken by the acting leader of the opposition, (Rolston Anglin)and O’Connor Connolly put the opposition’s presence in doubt.

“Unfortunately, instead of raising its concerns directly with the Government, the Opposition chose to make a public statement. The Opposition knew well in advance of the timing of the negotiations and could have had the courtesy of contacting the Government directly,” Tibbetts added.   “The Opposition’s main concern relates to the availability of the first MLA for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, Mrs. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly.  It is contending that her priority right now should be supporting the hurricane relief effort on Cayman Brac which I can tell you, as the Minister responsible for the Sister Islands, is proceeding  at a  satisfactory pace. ”

Tibbetts said the government recognises that O’Connor’s absence would disadvantage the opposition which was compounded by the Leader of the Opposition’s very recent return to the island following surgery.

“With the clear likelihood of the Opposition not turning up next week and in the absence of direct communication from them, I have spoken to the Head of the UK delegation, Mr. Ian Hendry, and told him thatwe have concluded that it would not be appropriate to proceed with the talks in the present circumstances,” LoGB said.

Rolston Anglin who has been acting as Leader of the Opposition since McKeeva Bush was undergoing surgery spoke with CNS after the briefing and said that the opposition had never said they would not attend the talks, but that O’Connor would not be able to be there and as a lawyer she is a key member of the team.  Anglin said that if the government had not moved to cancel at the eleventh hour the opposition would still have attended

“We thought it was shameful that following the impact of Hurricane Paloma the government didn’t move for a postponement immediately as it was obvious that two of the fifteen members would be otherwise occupied,” Anglin added. “Yet again the opposition has had to take the lead and tell government what needs to be done, this is incredible. The government’s captain is asleep at the wheel and just does not seem to be aware of what’s going on around him.”

LoGB said that the government was disappointed that the situation had forced a postponement and there was concern that the postponement would make it difficult to get through the talks before the dissolution of parliament. “Unfortunately, the situation now is that we are really running against the clock. Government is gravely concerned that this postponement has implications for our ability to complete the process on time, given the reality that the Legislative Assembly will be dissolved in March of next year,” he added.   Despite this, however, we shall do all we can to get the process back on track as soon as possible and as soon as the Opposition returns to full strength and the diaries of all parties, particularly the UK delegation, permits.” 

Tibbetts claimed to have no choice but to cancel as the risk of the opposition not taking part would, he said, have defeated the purpose of talks as the next phase will be to negotiate areas of difference between government and opposition.

“We have repeatedly made it clear that the new Constitution is not just about the Government. It is about the people of the Cayman Islands and, therefore, must reflect a national consensus. Despite fundamental disagreements with Government on the issue of a new constitution, we believe the Opposition must be allowed to fully make its case,” Tibbetts added.

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Cayman ready for review

| 27/11/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The anticipated review of its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies by the UK government has been welcomed by the local body representing the sector here in the Cayman Islands. “This is hardly the first such review that Cayman has gone through” said CIFSA Director Jeremy Smith.  “And each time the conclusions reached are the same – that Cayman is a very professional and well regulated jurisdiction that adheres to international standards as well or better than the most respected financial centres.”

 The UK Chancellor Alistair Darling announced on 24 November in his pre-budget speach that he would be looking at financial service sectors in territories and dependencies. The Cayman Islands Financial Services Association (CIFSA) says Cayman stands ready to fully participate in the process and once again demonstrate to the world that compliance with international regulations and standards in Cayman remains stronger than most financial centres worldwide.

“As long as this review is conducted in good faith, without a politically pre-determined outcome, we are extremely confident that this review will reach similar conclusions,” Smith added.

An independent report recently published by the US Government Accounting Office (GAO) supports the position  that Cayman’s regulatory regime is in good order. CIFSA said that important, and independent, rankings and measurements of financial centres such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) have also credited Cayman with high standards.

 In terms of transparency and cooperativeness the US GAO report said “"U.S. officials from multiple agencies said that the Cayman Islands government has been cooperative in responding to U.S. requests and shared useful information at their initiative related to questionable financial activities that involve U.S. connections."  Rankings from the FATF show that the Cayman Islands significantly outperform jurisdictions like the U.S., Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Switzerland in adherence to internationally agreed anti-money laundering standards.  Yet these facts rarely get much coverage.

“The Cayman Islands is constantly being asked to prove itself in terms of professionalism and ethics in ways that other financial centres are not,” explained CIFSA Chairman Eduardo D’Angelo P. Silva. “And many of those other jurisdictions could not stand up to the kind of scrutiny we routinely deal with here.  We are far from the secretive enclave that some try to label us.  We have always encouraged foreign press and legislators to visit us and experience what Cayman is all about.  And without fail they come away impressed and with a completely different perspective on our industry.”

He added that the Cayman Islands financial industry plays an important role in the world’s finances, providing services and products that help residents on-shore in ways that many are not even aware of.  The current financial crisis has its roots firmly on-shore, but the Cayman Islands will prove a valuable ally in the fight to solve this crisis.

 

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Recovery fund still needs support

| 27/11/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With so many house s destroyed or badly damaged on Cayman Brac following Hurricane Paloma the  generous donation of  CI$25,000 from IAMCO was greatly appreciated by the Cayman Islands National Recovery Fund. “The Fund, once again, is extremely grateful to IAMCO’s continued financial support,” said Dr Mark Laskin. “ The immediate financial support from the public and corporate firms has been outstanding however we still have a long way to go.  

The NRF is tasked with helping people who are either uninsured or under insured, and itappears that a number of families that suffered severe losses in the hurricane storm are without insurance. Laskin, Executive Director of the fund said it is still in need of money and asked for support from Grand Cayman.  Relief accounts have been set up at Bank of Butterfield and Cayman National Bank.  Any monetary donation would be greatly appreciated,” he added.

Since IAMCO’s establishment in 2004, they have worked closely with the Recovery Fund in providing materials and significant funding to Grand Cayman after the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan.  This recent donation will be used to directly benefit the Sister Islands after the passing of Hurricane Paloma.

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Fight crime for free

| 27/11/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Residents are being given an opportunity to learn how to ‘design out crime’ as a result of a joint venture by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) and the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI). The two organisations have joined forces to help spread important safety messages and address issues around fear of crime within the community by offering a free presentation to all members of the public this weekend.

Although mainly targeted towards the business community and home owners, all members of the community would be sure to benefit from the seminar. Devised by RCIPS Inspector Anthony White, who holds a PhD in Criminal Justice, the two hour presentation aims to increase awareness of crime prevention measures, highlight to companies, businesses and home owners what they can do to protect themselves, their customers and their property, and give all Cayman Islands residents some general advice on how to stay safe and protect themselves.

“There is much we can do to help protect ourselves and those around us,” said Dr White. “Some of the steps we can take are relatively simple and low cost but can have a large impact upon how safe people are and how safe they actually feel. It is true that the fear of crime often outweighs the chances of becoming a victim of crime and addressing how safe people feel is key to improving people’s quality of life.”

UCCI came onboard with the projectto offer their facilities and services at no cost, stating that it’s important these messages are disseminated into the community as wide as possible. “We all have a duty to take personal safety seriously,” said UCCI President, Dr. Brian Chapell. “After some of the events that have taken place recently this is an opportune time to get some of these messages out and the UCCI is more than happy to help facilitate this. The more people who attend, the better.”

The presentation covers many aspects of ‘designing out crime’ covering topics from environmental design to situational crime awareness. Members of the community are encouraged to attend one of two sessions taking place on Saturday, November 29 and there will be no cost to those attending. Additional sessions will be added as necessary to meet demands.

Two sessions are available on Saturday, Nov ember 29: 12pm – 2pm or 6pm – 8pm. To ensure that organisers can accommodate all those wishing to attend, people are asked to register in advance by sending an e-mail to fightcrime@ucci.edu.ky with the words “fight crime” in the subject line and indicating a preference for the lunchtime or evening session or they can call Leigh Smellie on 526-5045.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station 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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New appeal court judge takes oath

| 27/11/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal now has a fifth sitting judge following the appointment of Hon. Geoffrey Vos, QC, who took oaths of office and allegiance in the presence of H.E the Governor, Stuart Jack,  this week (Monday, 24 November). A leading member of the English Bar, Vos is also a judge of the Courts of Appeal of Jersey and Guernsey.

He also sits as a deputy high court judge in England and Wales, and was chairman of the Bar Council in 2007, according to a Governor’s Office release. Both the Chief Justice and Acting President Forte congratulated Justice Vos on his appointment and welcomed him to the jurisdiction, with the Chief Justice observing, “Justice Vos is no stranger to the Cayman Islands, having appeared as leading counsel in a number of cases here in the past.”

Justice Vos joins Ian Forte and Elliott Mottley for the court’s November to December session. Of the three new appointees to the Court, he is first to take office. The other two are the new President of the Court, the Rt. Hon. Sir John Chadwick; and Justice of Appeal, Dr the Hon. Abdulai Conteh. The new appointments take the Appeal Court’s strength to five justices.

 Also present at the swearing in were the Chief Justice Hon. Anthony Smellie, QC;  Acting President of the Court of Appeal,the Hon. Justice Ian Forte; Justice of Appeal, the Hon. Justice Elliott Mottley, QC; and Court of Appeal Registrar Audrey Bodden.

 

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Instability challenges RCIPS

| 27/11/2008 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Speaking to the people of the East End community, Area Commander of the district Richard Barrow admitted that the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) was still facing challenging times as a result of the instability at the top leadership level in the service, but that his officers were doing a good job given the circumstances. He said they were all getting through because of the support of the community.

“We are still facing troubled waters,” Barrow said, “but with your support and that of our MLA we are dealing with these issues.”

Given the circumstances surrounding the suspension of the RCIPS senior officers and the cloud of suspicion hanging over the entire service as the secret investigation drags on, Barrow admitted that it has been difficult for his officers.

MLA for East End, Arden McLean, was present at the meeting and said he was hoping to see some stability in the force now that Stuart Kernohan, the former Police Commissioner had been sacked.

“I think the RCIPS will get over this and now Kernohan is gone, well I’m happy with that. We can’t be on a temporary leash forever; we need to get back to getting some confidence in the police,” he said. “There needs to be some permanence and I hope we see it.”

 Although the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT) has been in Cayman since September 2007 reportedly investigating the RCIPS, so far aside from two misconduct charges brought against Deputy Commissioner Rudy Dixon (who is still suspended from duty on full pay) for offences allegedly committed in 2003  no other officer has been charged with any offences.

Kernohan was fired by Governor Stuart Jack earlier this month in the wake of the publication of an open letter he had sent to the Governor asking for reinstatement, but he was never formally interviewed regarding the investigation.  Meanwhile, Chief Superintendent John Jones remains suspended on full pay but no charges have been brought against him, nor has he been interviewed regarding the enquiry which has been going on since September of 2007.

Besides the instability with regards police management, Barrow said he also faced staffing problems with a relatively new force in the eastern districts and a shortage of bodies due to a number of officers not renewing contracts.

During the meeting, the problems of young people committing crime, the law being too soft and traffic offences were raised, but most of those in attendance at the small meeting were supportive of their local officers.

Barrow confirmed that he and his staff would be back in the district for another meeting soon following the arrival of yet another temporary acting commissioner, James (Jim) Smith, at the beginning of next month.

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FCU still faces scam victims

| 27/11/2008 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Despite persistent warnings a number of people in the Cayman Islands still appear to be falling for frauds and scams generated through email and faxes taking up the valuable time of officers within the Financial Crimes Unit (FCU) which has dealt with some five victims this year alone. While the unitis tasked with dealing with the reports from those defrauded by online, email or fax scams, there is, in virtually all cases, nothing officers can do to recover lost funds.

Detective Constable Adrian Neblett from the FCU gave a special presentation last night, (Wednesday 26 November) as part of the East End District Police meeting hosted by area commander Richard Barrow. Neblett said that too many people were not looking closely at these scams and were just seeing the numbers. “We are all human and we make mistakes but these are scams and people need to know that we cannot help them when they fall prey to these international, internet based frauds. Once you send money to these people it’s gone,” Neblett warned.

The Detective said that the scammers use a variety of tricks and scenarios to con people out of money, selling expensive and rare breeds of puppies which they promise they can ship to Cayman, some pretend to be charities seeking help for disasters or the needy around the world, others use official institutions such as the IRS to hide there scams behind and many tell the email recipient that they are winners of a lottery, prize draw or even an inheritance.

Many originate in West Africa usually involving requests to transfer money to your bank account to get large sums of money out of the hands of a corrupt governments and other such nonsense. Neblett said that people should not send money as a result of solicited invitations on the internet or open emails from anyone they do not know. He said invariable while the deceptions may be dressed up in different guises they all request personal information such as dates of birth or banking details and inevitably money.

The FCU is a relatively small unit and is currently dealing with a number of complex financial cases not least the collapse of the Grand Island Fund earlier this year which has resulted in the arrest of one man so far, as well as the fraud alleged to have been committed by the former president of the UCCI, among others.

However, Neblett did say that despite persistent warnings the unit was having to deal with reports from victims in the community regarding these internet based crimes which they are powerless to address and which could have been avoided if people took more care and exercised caution rather than just seeing the big tempting numbers.  “We do have to give some attention to these reports but we can’t do much more than take the details we can’t solve the crime,” he added. Neblett said while the unit was not spending a lot of time on it the unit cold not simply ignore the victims.

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