Archive for December 8th, 2008

Another driver in hospital

| 08/12/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Yet again police are appealing for witnesses to a single vehicle crash which happened in the early hours of Saturday morning and has left a man hospitalised with serious injuries. According to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS), the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at around 3:05 am on Saturday 6 December reporting that a car had run off the road and collided with a tree.

An investigation into the car crash, in which the 24-year-old driver was seriously injured, is now underway. Police and medics responded to the scene on Saturday morning where they found an unconscious man in a Black Chrysler PT Cruiser that had been travelling west along Shamrock Road. The car which was in the vicinity of Trumbach Drive had collided with a tree and the driver had sustained injuries to the head and was taken to hospital. Police said that he has since regained consciousness and is in a stable but serious condition.

Scenes of Crime officers processed the scene and an accident reconstructionist is carrying out investigations. Anyone who witnessed the crash or believes they saw the vehicle prior to the crash is asked to contact Chief Inspector Courtney Myles on 926 0649. The RCIPS is reminding drivers to maintain safe driving practices and ensure that their Holiday Season is not marred by carelessness on the roads. Motorists are warned not to drink and drive as offenders will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

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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Dolphinarium opens this week

| 08/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Despite opposition in the community following the transfer of four dolphins to the new Dolphin Discovery facility in West Bay, it is expected to open for business this week. With the dolphins’ arrival in Cayman on Thursday 4 December, the owners of the captive facility, Gene Thompson and Dale Crighton, invited the press to come see the animals settle in to the pools on Friday 5 December.

Showing visitors around the captive facility and showing off the dolphins on Friday, the two owners, who were clearly delighted to have their star attractions safely in the water, said they were expecting to open sometime this week as the dolphins were settling in very well. Acknowledging that not everyone supports the concept, both Crighton and Thompson were at pains to stress the quality of life the dolphins would have.

“We have the highest standards here, the best professional trainers and vets,” Crighton said. “Each dolphin is given a special diet and all the food is restaurant grade. These dolphins will be very well cared for and loved.”

Thompson said that the trainers had laid at the pools on mats and slept by the dolphins’ side during their first night at the facility so they would be there for the animals if they were to become distressed in anyway as a result of the move from Tortola, where they had been held for the last few years, to their new permanent home in the Cayman Islands. According to the World Society for the Protection of Animals, the transportation experience is exceptionally stressful for dolphins.

The owners noted that the dolphins are already used to interacting with people and they do not need to be trained but are ready to swim with visitors. Crighton explained that at any given time, if the dolphins don’t want to interact, their handlers will just let them be. He explained that even when the two extra dolphins arrive and they have the full compliment of 8 animals there will never be more than 190 people swimming in the pools during the course of any given day.

“That’s the maximum, but most days there won’t be anywhere near that number, and if they don’t want to do work, they don’t have to. But for dolphins, swimming and interacting with people is not work, it’s what they love to do,” he said.

According to the owners of the facility, the dolphins don’t perform tricks but interact with swimmers displaying their normal behaviour. Crighton said each visitor is given a comprehensive orientation about dolphins before they are taken into the pools and there are strict guidelines about how visitors can interact with the animals.

Asked about the discharge of waste, which has also caused controversy, Crighton said that with 15,000 gallons of sea water pushed through the pool’s systems, eight dolphins on a diet of fresh fish will produce a negligent amount of waste. He said unlike the turtle farm there is no food waste as the dolphins are fed by hand directly and consume a measured amount of food. He said the ’pooh’ would be entirely diluted and would not cause any problems to the local reefs.

Opposition to this and another dolphinarium, due to open shortly on the North Sound near Morgan’s Harbour, has been diverse. The local Keep Dolphins Free Campaign has raised the issues surrounding the cruelty of keeping wild creatures captive and what they describe as the abusive nature of the industry;environmentalists have raised concerns about waste damage to surrounding reefs; and the members of CITA have noted that his type of attraction, which is being phased out in many other destinations, does not fit well with Cayman’s image of a high-end luxury destination.

 

 

 

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Lions receive direct donation from family

| 08/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): One local family has made a very generous contribution of $1,000 to the Lions Club of Tropical Gardens Breast Cancer Programme. Cardinall DaCosta of Puritan Cleaners and Joy DaCosta, Manager of International Travel, said it is important for women to have mammograms on a regular basis and to monitor the changes that take place within one’s body. 

Lion Judith Witter, Chairman of the Breast Cancer Programme accepted the donation and said the funds will be used to make mammograms available to more women in the Cayman Islands.

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Cayman funds face volatility

| 08/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Head of the Investments and Securities Division at the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA), Yolanda McCoy has said that some 340 local funds have been impacted by the problems with Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and AIG. Speaking at a special conference held in New York, she said that fund terminations in Cayman were running at an average of 50 per month.

Speaking at ‘Fighting the Tape’, organized by local legal firm Walkers, McCoy said the total number of hedge fund registrations in the Cayman Islands is still running ahead of the same period in 2007, with 1,441 new authorisations up until September 2008 compared with 1,407 during the same period in 2007. During the month of October, there were 85 new fund authorisations processed with an additional 25 pending.

"The true impact of the US credit crisiswill not be tangible for many months to come," she added and confirmed that to date CIMA was aware of a total of 340 Cayman funds that had been impacted by the problems with Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and AIG, with more than 200 of those affected by issues with Lehman. Fund terminations are still "extremely low," running at an average of 50 per month.

"While we expect terminations to rise, the current situation will not paralyse the Cayman fund industry," McCoy said.The conference was designed to examine the predictions for what the alternative investment funds industry can expect in the months ahead and provide insights on distressed funds.

According to a Walkers’ release, some 200 financial experts attended and discussed the volatile hedge fund market and looked toward a new era of hedge fund regulation, greater flexibility, and broader discretion for fund managers, and continued growth in many of the world’s key economies.

Among the first speakers, Walkers partners Nick Rogers and Ingrid Pierce examined the manager’s perspective with regard to distressed hedge funds. With so many attendees from the asset management community dealing with issues related to significant redemption requests and illiquidity, this presentation became a focal point of the seminar. They outlined an innovative solution that Walkers has developed with US counsel to create the effect of a side pocket, which attracted significant interest from attendees.

"The principal advantage of the ‘synthetic side pocket’ is that it relies on the use of mechanics that are permitted by and disclosed to investors in the fund’s offering documents," Rogers explained.

George Hall, founder and president of the Clinton Group Hall, gave his personal views on the financial crisis and what the market might see under President-elect Barack Obama. He said he hoped the new President would make good choices when selecting his Treasury Secretary and a leader for the SEC and he noted that the US government’s initial offer to purchase "toxic assets" through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was not presented very well, according to Mr. Hall, who said there is no such thing as a toxic asset, only a toxic price.

Guy Locke, senior partner of Walkers’ Insolvency Group, and Scott Lennon, senior vice president at Walkers Fund Services, looked at distressed funds from their perspectives. Locke discussed some of the issues – and opportunities – related to insolvency, while Lennon spoke from his position as independent director to investment funds.  "When a fund is in distress, the investors take comfort in knowing that the board of directors is comprised of persons with the requisite background and experience to deal with the crisis," he said.

Professor Rosensweig closed the seminar with insights into the investment opportunities presented by this current stage in the cycle, shifting the focus from New York and London to emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, China, the Middle East and India as the next growth engine for the global and US economy in terms of jobs, capital, and other areas.

"The world adds 100 people every 42 seconds," Professor Rosensweig said, "and 98% of that population growth is in the emerging markets.” Pointing to the expectation of long-term continued economic expansion in these regions, Professor Rosensweig said this massive population growth, combined with a move out of poverty in these regions, presents real future opportunities for investors.

"I thought it was an excellent seminar and very timely," said David Vaughan, partner at Dechert. "There was a great balance between the very technical and the important big picture issues. The presentations were very well done, and the two hours flew by."

Held on6 November at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers on Seventh Avenue in New York, the session – "Fighting the Tape" – was the first of the ‘Walkers Fundamentals’ series, designed to bring discussions of key financial issues to the investment capitals of the world.

"It was extremely satisfying to receive such an overwhelming response from both the New York business and global investment communities," said Mark Lewis, senior investment funds partner at Walkers, who opened the seminar. "It was standing room only and we received a great response from the major law firms, who were keen to find out more about the innovative solutions to hedge fund problems that we are facing on a daily basis with distressed hedge funds."

Walkers will further develop its ‘Fundamentals’ series of events, with plans in place for a seminar from the Management and Finance groups at Walkers in the first quarter of 2009 and further hedge fund events in London and Hong Kong over the next 12 months.



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Bars get more time

| 08/12/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): With none of this year’s holidays falling on a Saturday night, visitors and locals alike will be able to bring in the year 2009 in Cayman with drinking and dancing without falling foul of the law. All valid liquor license holders may remain open for one hour beyond their regular permitted time on New Year’s Eve to allow the celebrations to take place island-wide.

Chairman of the Liquor Licensing Board Mitchell Welds said that the extension applies to all seven categories of holders, adding that different category premises have different closing times. “Whatever is a premise’s closing time according to their licence, they are allowed to remain open for one hour beyond that,” he said. In relation to night clubs, this extension only applies to liquor sales, as music and dancing must end at the normal time of 3:00 am.

Welds also reminds licence holders that certain stipulations of the licence remain in effect.  These are that the sale of liquor and the playing of music should cease during the last ten minutes of permitted opening hours, and all patrons must be vacated before the closing hour.

For further information licensees and members of the public may contact Marva Scott at the Liquor Licensing Office at 946-5446 ext. 5

 

 

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Post Paloma forum for Brac businesses

| 08/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Investment Bureau (CIIB) will be hosting a Post Hurricane Business Forum in Cayman Brac on Wednesday, 10 December, 5:30pm at the Kirkconnell Supermarket parking lot. This forum will offer Cayman Brac businesses information on vital post-hurricane information from a number of key recovery partners and provide an opportunity for business owners to have critical questions answered and meet with forum participants.

This free business forum is open to all existing business owners and anyone interested in starting a new business. Participants include speakers from the following entities: CI Investment Bureau, Planning Department, Department of Environmental Health, Department of Employment Relations, Chamber of Commerce, Insurance Industry representatives and Financial Providers.

Minister of Investment and Commerce, Charles Clifford, notes, “This forum is another example of the government’s commitment to assist the recovery of small businesses on Cayman Brac, which make up the backbone of the Cayman Brac economy.”

CIIB Executive Director Dr Dax Basdeo stated, “The Investment Bureau views this forum and an opportunity to provide essential information to the business community as they make crucial business decisions during this very difficult time. Accurate, relevant information is an important part of the business planning process especially as the rebuilding process continues.”

Business owners in the Sister Islands can also call the CIIB Toll Free Number: 1-800-534-0004 for information on business initiatives, resources and progress updates or email info@investcayman.gov.ky

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New top cop views long term

| 08/12/2008 | 16 Comments

(CNS): In sharp contrast to his immediate predecessor, the new Acting Commissioner of Police, James Smith, may be more inclined to stay in the Cayman Islands, not just to fulfil for his short term contract as the ‘temp top cop’ but perhaps for the long haul. Smith applied for the senior position at the same time as the recently fired Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, and he says he has not ruled out applying again.

Smith, speaking at his first media briefing, admitted that he had previously applied for the position of Commissioner of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and been disappointed when he lost out in 2005 to Kernohan, who was recently fired by the Governor. Smith said he was still interested in the job and his temporary posting would allow him to find out if he would be suitable. Asked if he would be formally applying for the post, Smith made it clear it was a consideration.

“Let’s wait and see. It is important that I like what I see and the people like me and the way I work,” Smith said. “I have been very interested in the Cayman Islands.”

Smith also admitted that he was well acquainted with Martin Bridger, the Senior Investigating Officer in Operation Tempura, as he had been Bridger’s boss when he served in the Metropolitan Police, but he said he had not worked with him since 2006.

“There are 50,000 staff in the Metropolitan Police service, and at one point as part of the senior team one of my jobs was to supervise uniform policing for North West London at the time Martin Bridger was a Chief Inspector in one of the seven boroughs in that area,” he said, adding that he supervised him for around 9 months before Bridger was moved to another more challenging borough.

Smith refused to comment directly on Operation Tempura as he said he needed to spend more time assessing the circumstances, but he was already looking at it closely. Although David George, the former acting commissioner, was not given decision making supervision of the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT) and Operation Tempura, Smith said that he had been given sole decision making over the investigation and as soon as was practical he would make an announcement. He said he had considerable experience dealing with the press and he intended to keep the community informed regarding this investigation and what could be expected once he had got a better idea of the current circumstances. However, he said he was very impressed by how well the local police were dealing with this very challenging situation.

“I arrived on Saturday (29 November) and expected to see a police force on its knees, despondent and demoralized, finding it difficult to police the community, but nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “I thought the focus would be on this investigation but I think the focus of my job is to support these officers and to ensure that the people of the Cayman Islands get the police service they need.”

He did say, however, that Operation Tempura would be a major challenge to address and he had a number of significant briefings coming up this week regarding the situation, and he stated very clearly that he would be as forthcoming as possible about the details of the investigation and he intended to let the public know exactly what was happening.

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Cops take aim at Christmas crooks

| 08/12/2008 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Hitting the ground running, the new Acting Commissioner is already immersing himself in local police operations in an effort to make the Christmas season as safe as possible with the launch of the annual Christmas policing operations Caspian II, Python II and Thor II in Bodden Town, George Town and West Bay respectively.  

“The operations will include a variety of initiatives to keep the community safe and target those who break the law,” Smith said.

The aim of the operations is to provide a safe environment for shopping, travel and celebration and to warn those who attempt to spoil the festivities by engaging in criminal acts, that they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The operations will focus on ensuring people are safe when travelling on the roads or out enjoying themselves. Property owners are also encouraged to ensure their homes and businesses are secure.

“For many the Christmas Season gives an opportunity to socialize and relax with friends,” said Smith. “However we expect people to behave responsibly, particularly in respect to driving. Drivers are warned that they will be prosecuted if they drink and drive.”

The operations will be characterized by high visibility policing, increased foot patrols and swift responses to reports of crime. Members of the community are asked to play their part in combating crime by reporting suspicious activities, being aware of their surroundings and maintaining a high level of personal safety measures.

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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Ogier wins major decision

| 08/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Claims brought against Arthur Andersen LLP concerning Trade and Commerce Bank have been struck out in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands. Local law firm Ogier, representing the beleaguered accounting firm which acted as the bank’s auditors between 1988 and 2000, has succeeded in striking out the claims made against it. The claims, for over $800m, alleged that Arthur Andersen had negligently failed to detect the allegedly dishonest behaviour of the bank and the massive fraud perpetrated against South American depositors. (Chris Russell of Ogier pictured left)

The court decisively struck out the claims at a preliminary stage of the action, on the basis that the alleged fraud, if it had occurred, had been perpetrated by the controlling mind of the bank, and, following a recent decision of the English Court of Appeal, the bank could not be permitted to benefit from illegal conduct of which it was itself the perpetrator.  

Chris Russell, head of litigation at Ogier who acted on behalf of Arthur Andersen, said it was an important decision.  “If the claims had been allowed to proceed, it would have paved the way for other companies to sue their auditors if they failed to spot and report a fraud committed by the company itself.  It may seem unfair to creditors and shareholders but the logic is unassailable; put shortly, you can not have the right to sue an auditor for failing to inform you that you are yourself committing a fraud.”

Russell recently acted on behalf of Carson K Ebanks JP in the judicial review into the lawfulness of applications for warrants issued by Ebanks and applied for by the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT), headed by Martin Bridger to search Justice Alexander Henderson’s home and office.  Sir Peter Cresswell, in a decision highly critical of members of SPIT, made no finding of fault or criticism of Ebanks, who he suggested had been a victim of the circumstances.

 

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Pope attacks tax havens

| 08/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(Guardian): A hard-hitting Vatican report has laid the blame for the global financial crisis at door of ‘offshore centres’. It is a message sent from on high to the world’s financial and political elite. The Roman Catholic Church is calling for the effective closure of secretive tax havens as a ‘necessary first step’ to restore the global economy to health. In a policy paper from the Holy See, Pope Benedict pins the blame for the international financial crisis largely on ‘offshore centres’, many of which, such as the Channel Islands, are British dependencies. Go to article.

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