Archive for December 19th, 2008

Operation Tempura rolls on

| 19/12/2008 | 7 Comments

(CNS): A new advisory team called the Special Investigation Advisory Group (SIAG) has been established by Acting Police Commissioner James Smith to oversee Operation Tempura which includes SIO Martin Bridger, despite calls from elected officials indicated that he and the investigating team should go home. Smith indicated that the investigation would continue and that CS John Jones had been interviewed and plans were in place to interview Stuart Kernohan.

The new committee or group, according to Smith, consists of the Deputy Chief Secretary and Chief Officer for the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs Donovan Ebanks, Solicitor General Cheryl Richards, Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson, Strategic Advisor to the Chief Secretary Peter Gough, SIO Martin Bridger anda representative from Government Information Services (GIS) to advise on media and community relations. 

Smith, who took up the senior post at the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) at the beginning of the month, said he wanted to redress as far as it ispossible the flow of information to the public but still said that in protracted sensitive enquiries delays in providing information are sometimes inevitable for what he said were valid reasons to protect the innocent or because there was nothing to say.

“Let there be no dubiety, in my role as Acting Commissioner of Police that my primary focus is to ensure that the RCIPS is given strong leadership and clear direction with a focus on service delivery and continuous improvement,” Smith added.

He said however that part of his job was responsibility for the team conducting the enquiry known as Operation Tempura which he said would still involve Acting Commissioner John Yates of the Metropolitan Police Service. He also said he would be updating the Governor Stuart Jack regularly. However, he obviously did not feel the same regarding the elected officials who had on Friday afternoon still not seen his statement regarding the formation of the SIAG.

In the statement Smith made no mention of the elected government representatives request for Bridger to leave and for Operation Tempura to be wound up.

He said that since arriving he had spent time with Bridger discussing the investigaiton. At his opening press briefing Smith said he was very familiar with Bridger having worked with him and Yates when he was with the Metropolitan Police.

“I have reviewed both the progress of the investigation and the way they conduct their business.  I am satisfied that enquiries are being made with due diligence and speed and that the quality of the investigative work is to a very high standard,” he said. However Smith did not say how he reconciled that with the Chief Justice’s ruling in February this year and more recently the damning ruling of Sir Peter Cresswell which directly criticized the work of Bridger and his team calling it the “gravest abuse of process.”.

Although Smith said that he was working with the Solicitor General’s office and he hoped that this would assist in a speedy resolution he said investigations regarding the 3 September entry into Cayman Net News’ offices were still continuing. “I cannot set an exact timeframe because of matters out of our control; however I hope significant progress will be reported early in the new year. I can confirm that recently Chief Superintendent John Jones was interviewed in the Cayman Islands in the presence of his attorneys by members of the Tempura team,” Smith explained. “In respect of Stuart Kernohan, arrangements are being made with his legal representatives and officers from the Tempura team for him to be similarly interviewed.” 

Smith then said a formal assessment of the other allegations of criminality within the RCIPS is due by the end of January and decisions on any further investigations and areas for improvement will then be made in light of the facts contained in the report. He did not explain however if this meant therefore that he saw the actions of Jones and Kernohan as criminal.

He said that the service was in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, but as serious allegations have been made he was determined to prove or disprove them.”The people of Cayman need to have confidence in the integrity of its Police Service,” Smith added. “I am still relatively new to the post but with the strong support of my senior staff, I believe we can make a difference to the way we do business and play our part in securing thesafety of the Cayman Islands.

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Operators risk passenger safety at Sand Bar

| 19/12/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Police said today (Friday) that the Marine Unit is currently considering taking action against a number of operators who were found on the Sand Bar on Thursday, December 18 whilst it was pronounced closed. While the Sand Bar was reopened this morning as weather conditions improved, police said that yesterday captains should not have taken passengers out.

Police explained that the Sand Bar was closed for several days dueto bad weather causing large waves to crash across the area. “Weather of this nature is not only a danger for persons in the water handling the stingrays but also causes vessels to pull their anchors, drift onto the Sand Bar and crash into each other,” the RCIPS said.

This is the time of the year that the North Sound is busiest; unfortunately this is also the time of year that weather conditions are often unsuitable for persons to be at the Sand Bar. All agencies involved try to work with the tour operators as best they can, sometimes allowing for a limited amount of boats there at a time.

Other snorkel areas near to the Sand Bar are still suitable for snorkeling most of the time, so those areas we will allow them to do so. Also, conditions may improve throughout the day in order that it may be opened for part of the day.

 “There are a small amount of tour operators working with the RCIPS to ensure that it is fair to all concerned; however our primary concern will always be people’s safety. So far, the cooperation from most operators has been good,” police added.

Any captain who puts his passengers in danger by taking them out into conditions of that nature may find his actions to be considered reckless and negligent.

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Police nab East End burglars

| 19/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police have arrested several men in the eastern districts in relation to a number of break-ins to property. A 19-year-old man remains in police custody  over a break-in which occurred at East End Primary School in November and anotherman has been arrested in connection with various other East End break-ins. Two men have been charged and remanded in custody over burglary relating to offences committed in Bodden Town and a fifth man was also arrested in relation to an attempted break-in which also occurred in East End.

 Police said some stolen property has also been recovered as well as the arrests and charges, as a result of the work of officers from the Criminal Investigation Department.   “We have been working hard with the community to tackle offences of burglary,” said Inspector Ian Yearwood, (pictured) second in charge of the eastern districts. “Aside from issuing burglary packs and spreading crime prevention messages, detectives have been diligently working on cases to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.”

The RCIPS is reminding residents that they should do all they can do prevent becoming a victim of a break-in. Doors and windows should always be locked and valuable items should never been left on display. Residents should keep an eye on their neighbourhoods and report any suspicious activity to police or Crime Stopper 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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Hedge fund report bleak

| 19/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNN Money): A record number of hedge funds went bust during the third quarter, a report showed Thursday, as shaky markets and tight credit drove investors away from risky investments. Hedge Fund Research, a Chicago-based information company, said the number of hedge funds liquidated in the third quarter rose to 344, which is more than three times the 105 liquidations in the third quarter of 2007. It’s also 77 more than the previous record of 267 liquidations in the fourth quarter of 2006. Go to article.

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Cresswell back in town

| 19/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): All eyes will be on the Grand Court on Monday when Sir Peter Cresswell is expected to return to the Cayman Islands to hear the case to have the arrest of Justice Alex Henderson (left) overturned. In the same way that he quashed the search warrants in October in his first damning ruling, Henderson’s legal team will be hoping Cresswell will declare the arrest itself unlawful.

Literally days before Christmas, on 22 December, Henderson could see his wish list fulfilled when Ramon Alberga QC, Shaun McCann and Kirsten Houghton appear on his behalf to have the decision to arrest him by Martin Bridger, the Senior Investigating Officer for the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT), quashed just as the warrants to search his home and office signed by Carson Ebanks, JP, were also quashed.

In his first ruling against SPIT, Cresswell described Bridger’s decision as a “nuclear option” and said it was the “gravest abuse of the process."

Given both Cresswell’s opinions over Bridger’s actions and the governor’s recent admission of mistakes in the investigation, one legal expert told CNS that it is unlikely that the legal representatives for SPIT would be able to defend the arrest, although they are likely to insist that the mistakes were as a result of poor advice rather than bad faith. However, it is usual in such cases for the presiding judge to request an open apology from the respondents in court, which would go someway to mitigating the damages, the legal expert said.

If Henderson is successful in the quest to have the arrests declared unlawful, his legal team will be seeking to have a consolidated damages hearing for both the arrest and the warrants, CNS has learned. The costs for Operation Tempura, as the investigation has been dubbed, are already said to be in excess of $4 million and any damages awarded to Henderson will be added to the already hefty bill to be paid from the coffers of the Cayman Islands government, which is already beginning to feel the financial pinch of the global recession.

Meanwhile, James Smith, the new Acting Commissioner who took up the post on 1 December, has still not offered a statement regarding the continuation of Operation Tempura and whether or not Bridger and SPIT will remain in Cayman any longer. While David George, the previous Acting Commissioner, believed himself to be unconnected to the investigation until he found himself in front of Sir Peter at the last hearing and realised that he was an additional party, Smith declared that he has full decision making power over SPIT. CNS has learned that Smith, who was Bridger’s senior officer at the Metropolitan Police in London, has been in extensive consultation with the SPIT leader and a statement is expected before Christmas.

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Hedge Funds Care Raises over $300,000

| 19/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS):  Members of Cayman’s financial industry raised an impressive $300,000 for kids facing abuse and neglect. Hedge Funds Care Cayman (HFCC) raised the sum at itsfourth annual ‘Open Your Heart to the Children’ benefit.  “We were pleased with the turnout, and the funds raised exceeded expectations especially amidst the difficult time that the hedge fund industry and the broader financial services sector are experiencing,” said Cayman Committee of Hearts Chairman Peter Cockhill.

 

“We are very grateful for the generosity of the sponsors and attendees and have now begun the grant application process, so that we can put the funds raised into action here in the Cayman Islands.”   

To start the grant making process for 2009, HFCC is officially requesting funding proposals from local organisations for initiatives that demonstrate alignment with the Hedge Funds Care vision regarding the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect, and that satisfy its selection criteria.

“The grant selection process is purposely lengthy and thorough,” explained Cockhill.  “There is a vigilant screening process where the committee conducts site visits and requests that the potential grantees present the details of their proposals. This is an important part of the overall process because Hedge Funds Care is committed to ensuring that the donations made by the companies and individuals in good faith are directed towards effective projects directly address the issues of child abuse and neglect.” 

HFCC is committed to funding activities that strengthen vulnerable families, build community resources for at risk families, preserve the integrity of the family without jeopardising child safety, enhance permanency planning, improve foster care and adoption, and provide clinical treatment to victims as well as support to non-offending family members. HFCC is also committed to enhancing general awareness within the community and increasing the awareness of children to the problem of abuse in order to facilitate disclosure and break the cycle.  

Grants will be awarded according to strict selection criteria that require full disclosure of the purpose and structure of the intended projects and upon assurance that the organisations are solvent. Individual local organisations are asked to present specific project proposals to the HFCCGrant Committee and funding will be donated on the basis that the funds will be utilised as per the approved proposals. To obtain a grant application form, contact Ann Garland at Hedge Funds Care in New York at agarland@hedgefundscare.org or by telephone at + 212 991 9600. 

Since its inception in 2005, HFCC has raised over USD $950,000 that has sponsored local agencies to combat the issue of child abuse and neglect in the Cayman Islands. The 2008 HFCC grantees include: the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, the CAYS Foundation, the Human Rights Commission, the Ministry of Education and the Nadine Andreas Foster Home (operated by the NCVO). 

Hedge fund industry professionals established Hedge Funds Care (HFC), a charitable organisation focused on assisting young victims of abuse, in 1998.  Since that time, chapters have opened in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Toronto, Cayman, and most recently in London.  The organisation comprises those companies with interests in hedge funds, including investment managers, investors, prime brokers, attorneys, accountants, administrators and information providers. 

 

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Police targeting drunk drivers

| 19/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police have said that they will not tolerate drink driving over the holiday period and have joined forces with the National Drug Council (NDC) and local taxi operators to urge all drivers to act responsibly and not drink and drive. The 2008 campaign will see strict, proactive enforcement by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS). “Drinking and driving is like playing Russian Roulette,” said Head of the Traffic Management Unit, Courtney Myles.

“All drivers need to be aware that if they drink and drive at best they risk prosecution, at worst they risk injury or death.”

Leaflets and flyers are being distributed to bars and clubs giving contact details of taxi operators so anyone out and about can easily find safe transportation home. Burton Ebanks of Burton’s Taxi and Private Drivers Service is one of the companies onboard with the campaign. “We hope to achieve less accidents and a safer holiday season for all,” he said.

The NDC endorsed the initiative, saying that the council is happy to support all efforts in this area. “Accidents caused by drink drivers are avoidable,” said NDC Prevention Officer, Simon Miller. “We want people to think about their actions by designating a driver or arranging for a taxi – it could save someone’s life.”

Chief Inspector Courtney Myles stressed that the RCIPS takes drink driving extremely seriously. “Wedon’t tolerate it and will not accept any excuses, including Christmas celebrations and festivities,” he said. “In order to protect road users, motorists should expect heavy enforcement including the use of road blocks and stop checks.”

The message from the RCIPS is clear; if you drink and drive you will be brought to justice. The advice to motorists is simple. Any amount of alcohol can affect your judgment. If you are going to drive, don’t drink a drop.

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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Cubans land in East End

| 19/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): At the end of another year which saw a significant number of Cuban migrants passing through the Cayman Islands, the Immigration Department said on Wednesday afternoon, 17 December, that two more Cuban migrants had landed in East End earlier in the day and were taken to hospital.

Immigration officials said that the migrants landed on the morning of 18 December in the vicinity of the Royal Reef Hotel in East End after their vessel was damaged on the reef. Both migrants, who said they had spent about nine days out at sea, were taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital for treatment of minor injuries and dehydration. The migrants are now being held at the George Town Police Station.

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Police crack down on crime

| 19/12/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Police said that they arrested eleven men in a twenty four hour period for a number of offences from burglary to drug dealing in Bodden Town, George Town and West Bay. Between Wednesday morning (December 17) and Thursday morning (December 18) 11 the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s (RCIPS) operations Caspian II, Python II and Thor II saw a crack down on crime.

The men were arrested for various offences including possession and consumption of ganja and cocaine as well intent to supply, burglary, theft and drunk driving and the all male offenders varied widely in age from 18 to 66 years.  Police said that these Christmas operations were launched at the beginning of December with a view to deterring offenders, catching those who do commit criminal acts and helping to keep residents and visitors safe during the festive season.

“By carrying out proactive operations we aim to not only catch those responsible for crime but also ensure people feel safe as they go about their business,” said Acting Commissioner of Police, James Smith. “This is a great start to the campaign and should act as a warning to those intent on committing crime. If you haven’t been caught already, chances are you will be soon,” he said.

The RCIPS is also making efforts to educate the community on what they can do to help protect themselves and lessen their chances of becoming a victim of crime. “We have carried out a number of crime awareness meetings and presentations within the community, Public Service Announcements have been launched on Radio Cayman and crime awareness messages will continue to be spread through the media,” added Smith.

Residents were also asked to continue to support the police through keeping and eye on their neighbourhoods and reporting any suspicious activity to 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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