Archive for March 4th, 2009

A question of secrecy

| 04/03/2009 | 5 Comments

Make no mistake. The world’s largest ‘G20’ onshore nations, most notably the United States of America, have now openly declared war on the offshore ‘tax havens’.

Senator Carl Levin (championed by President Obama) calls them ‘offshore secrecy jurisdictions’, so called because they have ‘secrecy laws or practices that unreasonably restrict US tax authorities from obtaining needed information’. He names 34 such jurisdictions – the Cayman Islands being one – and has proposed a bill, The Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, which is intended to target the very secrecy that US citizens are said to rely on to evade paying tax.

After all, as he rather chillingly puts it, “If offshore jurisdictions make a decision to enact secrecy laws and support industry practices furthering corporate, financial, and tax secrecy, that’s their business. But when US taxpayers start using those offshore secrecy laws and practices to evade US taxes to the tune of $100 billion per year, that’s our business.”

So how ‘secret’ is Grand Cayman? Where does bank confidentiality (that everyone has a common law right to expect) end and ‘secrecy’ (with all its illicit connotations) begin? The boundaries between the two are blurred. Levin says secrecy laws make it very difficult – impossible even – for onshore countries to find out whether their citizens are cheating on their taxes, but Cayman Island Minister Alden McLaughlin told CNS that Cayman should be differentiated from other ‘secrecy jurisdictions’, that Cayman does not hide information from the onshore world and that there are many ways for the US to get any information it needs.

Indeed, a cursory glance at the confidentiality Section 50 of the Monetary Authority Law (revised 2008) confirms that whilst it is an offence for any individual associated with the CI Monetary Authority to disclose any information other than when required to do so under island law (a conviction on indictment is liable to a fine of $50,000 and three years’ imprisonment), the Authority itself may assistonshore countries with their criminal, civil and administrative proceedings. Has the US ever been denied such assistance, I wonder? Not overtly, I am sure, otherwise Levin would surely have told us all about it.

Nevertheless, the system is clearly open to systematic abuse. The US, it seems, does have a point. In my next report, I look at what the recalcitrant US individuals and companies have actually been doing and how precisely the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act intends to police them.

In the meantime, suffice it to say, there is cause for real concern. All the sabre-rattling is designed, I am sure, to scare the perpetrators as much as it aims to target the offshore centres. But it is not just a question of scare tactics; the US is deadly serious. Having spent $700 billion (and counting) on the Iraq war and the same again (and counting) on bail-outs following the world-wide economic slump that started in their own sub-prime back yard, they need every cent they can get.

Continue Reading

Hospital stable says pastor

| 04/03/2009 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Announcing that Lizzette Yearwood had been confirmed to the post of Chief Executive Officer of the Health Services Authority (HSA) after more than two years of her acting in the role, Pastor Al Ebanks, Chairman of the HSA Board said the Authority was enjoying a period of real stability under her tenure. He also noted that after a great deal of work, the hospital and its finances were finally on track despite the ongoing challenges.

He said that things had come a very long way from when he took over the chairmanship of the board in 2005 when there were almost daily headlines reporting chaos, instability, rapid staff turnover, a loss of public confidence and low staff morale at the hospital. Today, however, significant strides had been made in many areas, he said. Above all, that the HSA’s financial situation had improved in terms of accounting as well as better management and spending.

The chairman praised Yearwood for her contribution to the improvement of the HSA and noted that she had brought strong, capable, compassionate and stable leadership to the hospital. “Along with her track record of accomplishments, in the circumstances the board believed it was the right and reasonable thing to do and agreed to confirm her to the post as Chief Executive Officer of the Health Services Authority; an appointment which has also been endorsed by the Minister of Health,” Ebanks added.

Acknowledging the problems that the HSA had faced over the last few years, he explained that restoring fiscal prudence in the authority’s financial management was a significant priority for the board. He said that when he took over, the magnitude of the problems at the time were aptly described by the auditor general, who had said; “Had this been a business, we would have filed for bankruptcy long ago.”

In the years since, through effective board management and oversight, we have been able to turn-around the finances of organization and are now providing timely financial reports to the auditor general and maintain compliance with the reporting regulations of the Public Management Finance Law,” Ebanks stated.

After being cited as a delinquent authority in the auditor general’s report last year into government accounting (State of Financial Accountability Reporting), Ebanks said that the authority had now submitted the accounting information to the AG for all of the outstanding years and was up to date with its financial reporting.

Auditor General Dan Duguay confirmed that he had received the information from the HSA up to the financial year 07/08 and his office had already completed the audit on year 05/06 and would finish the audit of 06/07 very soon. Although Duguay noted that the HSA probably still had more to do as each year’s accounts cannot be considered complete until the previous year’s audit is done, he said the hospital had made great strides. “I think it is great that the HSA has managed to catch up so quickly, it is a very encouraging sign,” said Duguay. “We are going to continue working with them now to get everything completed and I think it is fair to say they have made a tremendous effort.”

Ebanks and Yearwood both noted that the main challenges the HSA faced now were issues of collections for the services the hospital provides and the impact of a global economic downturn. While the hospital had managed to reduce its operating loss in the last couple of years through better management, the pressures on the service would now be greater and they both expected that to increase again.

Whilst we have been prudent in our financial management, like most other business entities we are increasingly challenged by the current global economic recession and resulting workforce reductions in the Cayman Islandswhich is already evident in declining revenues; increases  in the number of persons being unable to pay for healthcare services; tightening of credit arrangements by suppliers which depletes our cash reserve and requires upfront payment for goods and services,” Ebanks said.

Yearwood noted that as the primary care provider the HSA had to treat first and collect later and that was not always easy to do. She also noted that while it was a goal that everyone had health coverage. Some 20% of the population have no health insurance at all, and of those that do many have only a basic standard health care plan, which she and the pastor agreed was inadequate in terms of real coverage. “The basic plan offers only $100 of outpatient care and as everyone can appreciate that does not go very far,” Yearwood said.

The financial support the HSA receives from government is also crucial to maintaining high quality patient care and Ebanks said that both the board and hospital management had impressed upon the government the need not to cut the money.

The board is already actively reviewing all aspects of our operations to ensure that the quality of patient care is not impacted and we have been in discussions with the ministry regarding the evidence and research that has shown funding for healthcare cannot be sacrificed in times of economic crisis. We are confident that the government will take the necessary action, and even amidst the prevailing difficult economic situation provide the required funding to ensure safe and quality patient care to the people of these islands,” he added.

Continue Reading

Snorkeller dies off 7MB

| 04/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police said Wednesday afternoon that a 57-year-old woman has passed away following a snorkelling trip off Seven Mile Beach. The 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at around 1.30pm from a staff member of Red Sail Sports who reported that a woman was being brought to shore unconscious. Staff from the company performed CPR as the boat returned and the patient was met by medics at Public Beach. She was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead.

Police said that detectives from West Bay CID are now investigating the death of the woman who was visiting Grand Cayman on a cruise ship. The RCIPS said it sends its condolences to the family and friends of the victim.

Continue Reading

Exotic crown exhibition

| 04/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A black tie champagne reception, with all proceeds going to the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, will be held at the Ritz-Carton on Friday, 6 March, to launch an exhibition of the most beautiful and historic crowns from monarchies around the world, together with silver cutlery from Robbe & Berking. The exhibition can be viewed at Ambience on the Strand from 7-21 March, Monday to Saturday, where it will be free of charge to the public. Store opening times will be extended to 7:00 pm with additional opening hours on Sundays from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm.

According to Ambience, historically when the original crowns were created,they were fashioned by the best goldsmiths and jewelers of their time. The crowns have been recreated in part to understand the kind of craftsmanship that must have been involved in making them. Many historical crowns have been lost or destroyed, such as the 12 crowns of England before Oliver Cromwell, which were destroyed in 1649. Many crowns are in safes of the National Banks, or exhibted in many museums around the world.

The VIP reception is presented by Ambience Ltd in cooperation with German silver manufacturing company, Robbe & Berking, one of the finest manufacturers of sterling silver and silver-plated cutlery and tableware. Throughout the firm’s history, Robbe & Berking silverware has been manufactured for many of the ruling houses of Europe and distant lands, used in the residence of the Aga Khan, in the palace of the King of Jordan, the King of Malaysia, the Sultan of Oman, and in the Kremlin, amongst many others. The connection to these ruling houses was the stimulus of the exhibition.

After decades of work, the jewelers Juergen Aberler from Wuppertal, Germany and associated workshops have succeeded in creating perfect replicas and have brought them all together in a unique exhibition.

This exhibition has been featured all over the world in countries such as Russia, Japan, Dubai and throughout Europe. The collection of crowns and insignias has been enriched by a number of originals, including the Blue Faience Crown of the Pharaoh Echnaton (18th Dynasty 1365-1349 BC, a 17th /18th Century ritual Lama Crown, and the Torah Crown.

From Egyptians crowns such as the Double Crown of Upper & Lower Egypt, the Crown of William the Conqueror, the Crown of the Prince of Wales, the Russian Imperial Crown, and the tiara of the Shahbanou Farah Diba to the gem of the collection, the Cap of Astrachan – here, the 5,000 year old history of the most magnificent insignia in the world are exhibited.

The exhibition is rounded off with the full range of Robbe & Berking tableware and cutlery, the symbol of masterly silver craftsmanship.

Following the exhibition, an art competition themed “A Crown Event” willbe held for children 6 years and up, with an exhibition featuring their work to be held on 25 April, which aims to develop an appreciation of the detail of artistry and craftsmanship found in these crowns, along with the accompanying history of kings and queens from around the world. Prizes for the competition were supplied by Picturethis.

Ambience points out that children listen to many stories of royalty, but few have actually seen them or their crowns and insignias, and this exhibition is the perfect opportunity to walk them through some of the world’s richest history.

Tickets for the black-tie event are limited and are CI$125 each.

Please contact (345) 945 – 0115, email or visit for further information on this event.


Continue Reading

Deutsche Bank voted best private bank

| 04/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): For the third year running, Deutsche Bank was crowned best private bank in Cayman for the third year running at the prestigious Euromoney Private Banking Awards Dinner 2009, held in London on 19 February. The Awards ceremony was based on the Euromoney Private Banking Survey 2009, the results of which were announced at the beginning of February. The survey reflects the opinions of private banking professionals across the globe and takes into account a variety of factors including assets under management, profitability, ratio of clients to relationship managers and the range of services offered.

According to a release from the bank, the award was presented to Janet Hislop, Chief Country Officer of Deutsche Bank Cayman, before an audience that included pre-eminent figures from the world’s best private banks, fund houses and private client stockbrokers.

Hislop said, ““It is a very pleasing to accept this prestigious award on behalf of the incredibly hard working team I have the privilege of working with in Cayman. It acts as official recognition of their dedication to consistently providing the highest level of service possible. That this is the third consecutive year Deutsche Bank has been named best private bank in Cayman reflects our commitment to long-term relationships with our clients. As we celebrate our success in retaining our leading position, I look forward to building on what we have achieved through 2009.”

The award comes at a particularly significant time for Deutsche Bank in Cayman, as it has recently launched a foreign exchange desk locally and continues to build on its range of specialist services to help make Cayman an attractive centre for booking business.

Photo: (left to right) Clive Horwood, Editor of Euromoney Magazine; Janet Hislop; Jeremy Vine, presenter at the Awards Dinner.

Continue Reading

Workshop for mathematics teachers

| 04/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Next week, the Cayman Islands Mathematics Association will be hosting a two-day workshop for teachers. Among the topics that will be covered are teaching and learning strategies, weaknesses among Caribbean students and specifics regarding the CXC mathematics examination. The workshops will take place at St. George’s Anglican Church Hall on Monday 9th and Tuesday 10 March, starting at 5:00 pm. The cost is $10 for members of the Mathematics Association and $40 for non-members. Refreshments will be provided.

Nicole Thompson, President of the Association says, ‘This is an exciting opportunity for teachers at all levels. Anyone with an interest in the teaching and learning of mathematics is encouraged to come along.’

For more information, and to preregister, please call 925-4376 or 916-0597 or email

Continue Reading

Obama supports conservation, science

| 04/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(New York Times): A few weeks before he left office, President George W. Bush told federal officials that, in effect, they did not have to bother getting the advice of wildlife experts before taking actions that might harm plants or animals protected by the Endangered Species Act. On Tuesday, President Obama said that, in effect, they did. At a visit to the Interior Department marking its 150th anniversary, the president said he had signed a memorandum directing the Interior and Commerce Departments to review a regulation that the Bush administration issued Dec. 16.

Go to article

Continue Reading

For Swiss banks, an uncomfortable spotlight

| 04/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(New York Times): ZURICH — Banking has long been to this tidy city what cars are to Detroit and computers to Silicon Valley, only more reliably. For while fortunes swung wildly in those places, quietly serving the world’s wealthy made growth here as predictable as a fine Swiss watch. Until now. With Switzerland’s biggest bank, UBS, staggering beneath a tax scandal that has undermined this country’s vaunted banking secrecy — as well as $53 billion in write-downs on American subprime securities — not only is Switzerland’s reputation for stability threatened but so is the industry that made it one of the world’s wealthiest countries.

Go to article

Continue Reading

Man wanted for fraud could be in Cayman

| 04/03/2009 | 16 Comments

(CNS): A man said to have duped churches and church-goers in Central Florida of at least $450,000 by presenting himself as a wealthy businessman from a religious family in Jamaica might be hiding out in the Cayman Islands, according to America’s Most Wanted. With a warrant for his arrest in Orange County, Florida, 44-year-old Jamaican Lerron Carlton Heslop (left) claims he is trying to fund the establishment of Bible colleges and churches in the Caribbean for a bogus religious group, Pioneer Caribbean Team.

AMW says that to entice them even more to donate he promises big cash in return. He says he’ll invest the money in Jamaican land used to grow sweet potatoes, and police say he claims the investors will not only see a ten-fold return on their money, but they’ll also help revitalize the area. However, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, a return on investment never materializes, and since Heslop asks for cash only, there’s no paper trail.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement believes that Heslop could also be living in the Cayman Islands, and he has family in Toronto, Canada and Jamaica. Police are also searching for Heslop’s wife, Thelsa "Telly" Saleta Fearon-Heslop (right), for the same charge of Organized Fraud. Police think Heslop has pulled this scam in Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma, New York and Canada, possibly making as much as $1m since 1996.

Investigators say Heslop drives a fancy car, like a Jaguar, and shows professionally-produced slide shows. He stays in the churchgoers’ homes and makes them dinner. Detectives say he also invites investors to come to the Caribbean and work with his ministry, asking them to contribute $4,000 to pay for a private jet. But he’ll disappear before the trip ever happens.

America’s Most Wanted reports that investigators say they know Hesloplived in Dallas, Tex. last, but he has been tracked to Yonkers, NY.

Continue Reading

Bogus email makes false warning about texts

| 04/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): LIME has completed an investigation into an email that has been circulating which claims that text messages sent through the telecommunications company can be intercepted and read by a third party. LIME warns customers through a counter email that the original is making false statements about its network security. The circulating email has in the subject line “Beware of sending Text Messages – VERY IMPORTANT INFO”. It begins with “Hello All” and is signed by “Friend!!!!”

It says: “I am just letting you know that you need to be very cautious when sending out text messages in the Cayman Islands. A text message that I sent from my personal cell phone was intercepted and read by an unintended 3rd party this week. I contacted LIME and was told that the person (3rd party) has all my text messages that I generate forwarded to a particular phone even though the number is NOT the intended address. The kind customer service representative and LIME told me that it is NEW and they were not aware that it could even happen! LIME is currently investigating this matter and I will update you as I receive information. Until this issue is resolved, please do not send any sensitive info via text. It looks like we are not safe any where. Send this message on to all those you consider to be family and friends.”

LIME has now released its own email, and ask people to send to anyone who has sent the bogus email. It says:

“There’s an e-mail that’s currently circulating regarding someone who sent a text message to a friend which was then received by someone else. This e-mail is making false statements about LIME’s network security. This has nothing at all to do with LIME and we have advised this person to contact the police as their handset may have been accessed or compromised by a third party.

"Our investigation has been completed and we want to assure you that all information sent via text, e-mail or voice is totally secure. Remember to lock your handsets and don’t let anyone have access to your personal information including user names and passwords. Finally can I please ask you to forward this e-mail to anyonewho sent you the original one.”

Continue Reading