Archive for April 7th, 2009

Tax deals delicate

| 07/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The government has said that negotiating bi-lateral tax agreements is a sensitive business and not something that could have been hurried through because of the rhetoric surrounding the recent G20 summit since what they purpose is to also get something in return. “In good faith, when we negotiate tax exchange agreements we would expect to accrue some benefits for the Cayman Islands in the commercial area,” Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts explained in the wake of the meeting.

The delicate balance of signing the tax information exchange agreements, now perceived to be highly beneficial, is also tied in with acquiring some commercial advantages for the Cayman Islands or getting the jurisdiction removed from country’s own black lists. Not wishing to elaborate on what the government might be seeking with the countries it is currently in negotiations with or what deals it has so far gained, Tibbetts said that without giving too much away the negotiations had focused on Cayman’s developing business in aircraft financing. He said that depending on the country involved, negotiations over commercial benefits would be different on each occasion.

Following the G20 summit, Minister McLaughlin explained that while the government had been criticised for not signing treaties, the PPM administration had, in fact, been engaged in negotiations since they took office, but that did not mean they were able to be successful. For example, in the dealings with the UK, the goal posts continued to change, McLaughlin said, and the government had to be very careful not to put Cayman at a commercial disadvantage.

“One of fundamental issues we face is that countries have us on internal blacklists and the negotiations will be a way to get off the internal lists,” said McLaughlin. The new unilateral law has created a way for Cayman to offer and control the flow of information without the bilateral agreements and the negotiations that go with them but still left the door open for commercial agreements, he said.

The opposition had not signed any tax agreements when they were in office, the minister noted, which he did not mean as a criticism but said it illustrated that the UDP had acted on the best advice, just as the current administration had. “We don’t want to put Cayman in a position of competitive disadvantage. We want to be compliant with OECD tax exchange standards but we don’t want to give away things other countries haven’t and then lose business. “

However, some leading members of the offshore community have questioned the wisdom of holding out on some exchange agreements. They say that there is probably very little commercial advantage that the government can negotiate as in most cases Cayman is already getting all the business it is likely to get from a given nation but that not having tax agreements is more of a disadvantage.

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Lyndon Martin wins appeal

| 07/04/2009 | 50 Comments

(CNS):  Updated Independent candidate for the Sister Islands, Lyndon Martin, has had one of the charges against him quashed and his pending sentence of eight months in prison replaced with 120 hours of community service during an appeal hearing yesterday regarding his conviction for immigration offences.  Martin said that in light of the judge’s decision to reduce the sentences he would not appeal the other convictions. A jury had found Martin guilty in April of last year on three counts of obtaining property by deception involving a total of $1,075 that related to immigration issues.

He was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, but bailed pending the appeal. Yesterday a judge quashed count five, which was obtaining property by deception from Weldon Shaw, because they found the trial judge had erred in admitting the evidence to be read. The sentence on the remaining two charges of 8 months imprisonment, which relate to Clent Myrie, were replaced with community service as the Appeal Court disagreed with the trial judge that these offence constitute a breach of trust.

The three judge Appeal Court heard arguments from Martin’s attorney Trevor Burke QC, instructed by attorney Philip McGhee, who successfully argued that Martin’s trial judge in April had erred by allowing the key witness statement to be read in record without allowing for Martin’s legal team to challenge Shaw.

Welcoming the result, Martin thanked his legal team and the hundreds of prayers that his community had said for him. He said as he is always conducting community service, this sentence is welcome. “I look forward to giving back to my community,” he said.

The result has cleared the way for Martin to get on with his campaign for the May General Election where he will be running on the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman alongside PPM candidate Moses Kirk-Connell, Independent Maxine McCoy-Moore and his former UDP colleague Julianna O’Connor-Conolly.

However, Martin is also still facing charges in the mysterious "Net Newsgate" regarding the Special Police Investigation Team’s accusations that he made a false accusation against a police officer. Martin had made a report to then Commissioner Stuart Kernohan that he believed his former boss at Cayman Net News, Desmond Seales, could be in a corrupt relationship with Anthony Ennis. Originally SPIT made some 17 charges against Martin but all except two have since been dropped.

Martin was due to have his day in court this month. However, the prosecution has asked for a delay until later in the year as they are believed not to be ready and seem to have some issues regarding witnesses.

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Candidate calls for heads to roll at prison

| 07/04/2009 | 28 Comments

(CNS): In the wake of the announcement that a serving inmate at Northward Prison has been arrested for the murder of Sabrina Schirn, political candidate in the prison’s district of Bodden Town, Sandra Catron, has called for not only an immediate investigation but also the suspension of prison management and staff involved. Catron said it was shocking and abhorrent that someone who was incarcerated because he had already broken society’s laws should be afforded the opportunity to re-offend while in prison.

Although no one has yet been found guilty and no charges have been brought against the prisoner, Catron expressed her dissatisfaction that there was any possibility of any offender committing a crime while serving time. “This is by far one of the most unreal situations I have ever heard of,” said the independent candidate. “How can any of us feel safe knowing that even after incarcerations we are still not safe from criminals.”

The Acting Chief Officer in the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, Franz Manderson, said today that following the judicial process there would be an investigation and a review of what happened. However, Catron said in a statement that the people could not wait that long and an investigation needed to be undertaken now. She said that Commissioner of Corrections and Rehabilitation Dr William Rattray was in post from overseas because Cayman is said not to have the level of expertise, and we should continue to hold him to such a high standard as they are accustomed to overseas and put him on immediate suspensions pending a full independent investigation. “The officers on duty that day should be afforded the same just treatment,” she said.

The prison stated today that the farm release programme had been suspended since Schirn’s body was discovered however, it did not say if other programmes were continuing and whether inmates were still being released into the community for sporting and other local events. Catron called for the immediate suspension of the work release programmes until adequate security measures could be implemented.

She said that before workers returned to the farm, security lookout towers with armed guards needed to be erected, prisoners must be stopped from using and collecting cell phones when on release, and law enforcement tracking bracelets should be attached to all prisoners outside of the prison.
Reacting to Rattray’s comments that the prisoner in question was not a violent offender, she said the general public needed to realize that because someone was incarcerated for a particular crime did not mean they were not capable of committing a more serious offence.

“The fact of the matter is, often the prosecutor is only able to get a successful prosecution on one of potentially numerous offenses. We should not take comfort in this to the point of ignoring all sensible security measures,” she said. “The comparison of teachers to prison officers in my opinion shows a real lack of understanding that the prison is not a school. These are two very different types of institutions and should have internal procedures that reflect that," Catron added, regarding Rattray’s comment at the press briefing on Friday 3 April.

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Police arrest two as disputes turn violent

| 07/04/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Two people were arrested yesterday (Monday 6 April) following separate violent disputes involving weapons. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) said the first incident occurred around 5pm in the vicinity of Eclipse Drive, George Town and resulted in the arrest of a 36 year old woman. Later in the night a man was arrested following the assault of another man with a machete in Impulse Close, Bodden Town.

Police responded to the scene of the first incident in George Town and found that a man had sustained a laceration to his face. The man was taken to hospital for treatment and a woman was arrested on suspicion of assault, actual bodily harm. At around 10.15pm the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call from a member of the public reporting that he had been attacked by another man who was armed with a machete. Police learnt that the two men, both of whom live on Impulse Close, had got into a dispute which resulted in one of the men receiving an injury from the machete. The suspect was arrested on suspicion of assault, actual bodily harm.

The RCIPS said it urges residents not to resort to violence to settle disputes. Anyone who is involved in violent acts will be dealt with under the full force 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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Cayman in volleyball circuit

| 07/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): After a very successful tournament here in Cayman organized by the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation, a male Beach Volleyball team of Kirk Rankin (Shervin) and Olney Thompson (OT) will leave Cayman to compete in follow-up tournaments in the NORCECA Circuit through June 2009.Shervin and OT hope to accumulate adequate points to succeed in being granted a wild card to compete in the Inaugural Caribbean Games 2009 being held in Trinidad & Tobago in July.

According to a release from the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee, other teams competing at the Caribbean Games include Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts & Nevis, and Trinidad.

The CIOC is sponsoring these athletes to attend the upcoming tournament in the Dominican Republic and has provided the athletes with competition gear to use in the Circuit tournaments. The committee said they wish Shervin and OT the best in competition and trust that they will be able to be a part of the Cayman Team to participate at the inaugural Caribbean Games in Trinidad, 12 – 19 July 2009.

Dates Hosting Country and City Competition Division
8-April-13 Boca Chica, Dom. Rep. III NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit M/W
13-May-18 Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico III NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit M/W
20-May-25 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico III NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit M/W
27-May/june-1 Pachuca. Mexico III NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit M/W
3-June-8 Verascruz, Mexico III NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit M/W
17-Jun-22 Trinidad & Tobago(Port Spain) III NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit M/W
24-June-29 Jamaica III NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit M/W

Photo: (L-R) Olney Thompson, Donald McLean (CIOC President) and Shervin Rankin.


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Handgun lands man in court

| 07/04/2009 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Rohan Marshall (29) of West Bay, has been charged with two counts of possession of an unlicensed firearm — one relating to a handgun and one relating to ammunition– possession of ganja and failing to provide a urine specimen, following a stop and search last week. (The arrested man is not the Rohan Marshall who works with the Department of Employment Relations.) Marshall who, appeared in court today (Tuesday, 7 April ) was arrested after the vehicle he was driving was stopped and searched by police on Tuesday, 31 March.

The discovery of the weapon was reportedly made at 4:50 pm in the afternoon when as USG officers (a team specifically trained in the use of firearms) stopped and searched a vehicle whilst on patrol along West Bay Road. Police say the man, who was the only person in the car, was arrested on suspicion of possession of an unlicensed firearm.

Superintendent Kurt Walton, who has responsibility for the USG, said at the time that the Police are committed to preventing criminal acts that disrupt the lives of law abiding members of our community. “Addressing the use of illegal firearms is a key priority and anyone found to be in possession of an illegal weapon will be prosecuted. A firearm conviction before the Grand Court in the Cayman Islands attracts a very lengthy period of imprisonment and as such we appeal to those persons who have thoughts of possessing such illegal weapons to quit,” he warned.

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 eligiblefor a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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Cayman offers helping hand

| 07/04/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Children in Jamaica living with HIV/AIDS were dealt another blow to their young lives when their home was destroyed by fire on Monday, 16 March. However, after a plea from Father Gregory Ramkissoon, the founder of charitable organisation Mustard Seed Communities, a container in Grand Cayman has been filled with toys, clothes shoes, bedding, and many other essentials and will soon be leaving for Jamaica.

Fortunately, none of the thirty children living at Martha’s House, one of the Mustardseed homes for children, was hurt, though two employees suffered injuries while rescuing the children. According to Father Ramkissoon, a caregiver, Dawn Mansfield, broke her leg while jumping through a window with two of the children and is currently hospitalized. A security guard was treated for minor burns to his legs and hands.

However, the damage was estimated at $15 million and neither the building on North Street downtown Kingston nor its contents were insured. Responding to the needs of these children, the Catholic Church on Grand Cayman, which was approached by Father Ramkissoon through some parishioners here, and local charity, the I AM CO Foundation, agreed to finance the container to take donations to Jamaica next week. Donations are being received up to Wednesday, 8 April, at 535 South Church Street between Pure Art and the Montessori school of Cayman, and the Jamaican Consulate will accept goods at their offices. Anyone wishing to donate can email Bron at or contact the Jamaican Consulate office between 8:30-2:30 Monday through Friday.

Items needed are: used clothing sizes 2 to 16, small toys, shoes, towels, sheets, shampoos ointments, toothpaste, soaps, crayons, plates, cups or canned meat, etc.

The children have been relocated to Dare to Care and Matthew 25:40, temporarily, until the charity is able to build a new home for them. According to Father Ramkissoon, they are trying to settle in their new environment and are receiving counseling after having watched their home being destroyed by fire. “We have done everything to assure them that they will always have shelter and food and will not be abandoned a second time,” he said in an appeals letter.

For more information, visit

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Hurricane forecast falls

| 07/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Hurricane experts at Colorado State University have scaled back their earlier predictions for this coming season in the Atlantic and now say it will be an average season with 12 named storms, including six hurricanes but warn two of them could be major. Researchers William Gray and Phil Klotzbach earlier predicted an above-average season with 14 named storms — seven of them hurricanes and three major.

Today, Gray said the forecast was dialed down because of improved chances of El Nino conditions that suppress hurricane formation. This is Gray’s 26th year of forecasting hurricanes and his predictions are watched closely by emergency responders and others but critics say such long-range forecasts have little practical value beyond focusing public attention on the danger.

Despite the critics however, the prediction goes on and various other forecasters have predicted the Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30, will be less active than last year but busier than an average season. Last year was one of the most active seasons on record, with 16 tropical storms. Eight of those became hurricanes and five grew to Category 3 or higher, the most destructive type.

NOAA, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will issue a pre-season forecast on 21 May 21. Gray and Klotzbach will update on 2 June 2 and the UK Met Office will issue a forecast in June.



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Drive to stop sexual assault

| 07/04/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Talking about the issue of sexual assault is one of the messages that the Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation (ESRF) wants to get across to the Cayman Islands community as it joins with other groups around the world this April to support Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2009 (SAAM). “To increase public awareness about the problem of sexual assault and to encourage community involvement, ESRF has adopted the theme: Believe, Talk, Act,” the foundation said.


Estella Scott-Roberts was the first Director of the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre (CICC), and instrumental in organising the first observance of SAAM in the Cayman Islands in 2005.  “By choosing the theme – Believe, Talk, Act – the ESRF is honouring Estella’s memory as she epitomized the strength it took to believe in something so passionately that she always talked-the-talk and was never afraid to act when necessary,” the foundation said in a statement.

“The theme of – Believe, Talk, Act – is also a strong message to our community that we must not only believe, and understand, that sexual assault is taking place in our country at an alarming rate against our children and women; but we must also talk about the issue with our friends and our family, and we must join together as a community to stop this horrific crime.”

The foundation notes that sexual assault has long been kept a secret in the Cayman Community. In families, churches and schools people remain silent however, believing, talking and acting are the first steps in supporting sexual assault survivors, holding perpetrators accountable, and preventing sexual assault from continuing.

“There are organisations in the Cayman Islands such as the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, RCIPS’ Family Support Unit, Empowerment and Community Development Agency (formerly Women’s Resource Centre), Department of Counselling Services, and The Wellness Centre which offer services to sexual assault survivors and their significant others, friends or family members. Whether the assault happened last night or 30 years ago, whether the perpetrator was a stranger, an acquaintance or a family member; whether it happened in the victims’ home or in some unfamiliar place; whatever the circumstances, help is available,” the foundation said.

Rayle Roberts, Estella’s husband and Chairperson of the ESRF said that Believe, Talk, Act applies to the community we live in.  “Until we are able to believe survivors, talk about issues surrounding sexual assault, and come together to take action against this crime, we will be unable to continue to change the attitudes that have made this crime acceptable to so many,” he said.

The ESRF said it has a number of initiatives arranged for Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2009 such as co-hosting with the CICC a ‘Breakfast with the Candidates’ event on 25 April and other public awareness initiatives that focus on this month’s theme; details will be made available to the community shortly.



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Manderson warns of prison investigation

| 07/04/2009 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Although silent for several weeks regarding the issue that the prime suspect in Sabrina Schirn’s murder was a serving prisoner at Northward, the HMCIPS is now breaking the silence and, according to Acting Chief Officer in the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, Franz Manderson, prison officials are affording their full cooperation to the ongoing police investigation into the brutal murder of the twenty-one year old last month and indicated that an investigation would take place into what happened.

“Prison officials are fully supporting the police investigation,” Manderson said yesterday. “Once the police and judicial proceedings are complete, all events and actions taken by prison officers will be reviewed to determine whether any further action is necessary within the prison service. In the meantime, we are respecting the process which is underway, and allowing the law to take its proper course.”

The inmate arrested on suspicion of murder was one of the prisoners allowed to work on the prison’s farm, located in East End. In a statement from GIS, it was revealed that following the discovery of the victim on a nearby property on 17 March, the use of prisoners on the farm was discontinued on 18 March and has not resumed. Commissioner of Corrections and Rehabilitation Dr William Rattray said that inmates working on Wilderness Farm have been reassigned to other programmes within the prison and stated that administrative procedures at Wilderness Farm are being reviewed as a separate exercise from the RCIPS investigation.

Speculation that a prisoner could be responsible for Sabrina’s death was raised within days of the murder but the inmate was not arrested until 3 April. The announcement was then made to the media by Acting Police Commissioner James Smith later that same day.

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