Archive for June, 2009

MLAs say challenge too late

| 30/06/2009 | 26 Comments

(CNS): In an ironic twist, the two Bodden Town MLAs challenged by voters in the district have filed a response to the election challenge against them asking the court to strike out the proceedings because they claim the challenge was filed too late. Minister Mark Scotland and backbencher Dwayne Seymour responded to the summons with their own legal documents, stating any challenge to their election should have been filed under the provisions in the Election Law which says an election petition must be brought within 21 days of the poll.

The summons by Gordon Solomon, Sandra Catron, Ronald Ebanks, Jean Ebanks, Roxanne Basham-Ebanks and Michael McLaughlin was filed in the Grand Court on 16 June (around 26 days after the poll), and suggested that neither Scotland or Seymour were qualified to be elected under Section 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution as they had missed the deadline to file their interests in companies that had business contracts with the government.

Both responses to the challenge filed by the defendants’ attorney Thorp Alberga on 29 June state that the originating summons was not filed in accordance with the either the Election Law or with rule 93 of the Grand Court Rules and should, therefore, be struck out.

Seymour and Scotland both set out in their affidavits that they were elected to the Legislative Assembly in the 20 May Election in the district of Bodden Town; that they were declared as successful candidates by the returning officer and their writs of election have been submitted in evidence. The two UDP MLAs state that the plaintiffs are alleging that they were unduly elected and that their election to the LA is not valid.

However, the summons submitted by the six Bodden Town votes actually alleges that the two candidates were never qualified to be elected and asserts the challenge under the Cayman Islands Constitution and not the Elections Law.

It is evident from the challenge and the response that right out of the gate the first legal argument will focus on whether the challenge is or is not brought under the Elections Law or the Constitution itself. With the constitutional requirement for qualification coming after the Elections Law’s requirements for nomination, the dispute is far from clear cut and likely to lead to legal gymnastics before either side sees the inside of a court room.

The controversy surrounding the disqualification under the Constitution of Seymour and Scotland because of their failure to meet the criteria laid out in Section 19 (1)g regarding the declaration of public companies before the general election in May, has not abated since the two MLAs were voted by the electorate as first and third elected members for the district.    

None of the losing candidates chose to make a challenge and People’s Progressive Movement Leader Kurt Tibbetts said it was the role of the governor and the attorney general to uphold the Constitution. Both Stuart Jack and Samuel Bulgin said it was a matter for the courts to decide and chose to abdicate whatever lawful responsibility they may or may not have for ensuring the Constitution is upheld. The Election’s Office has, from the very beginning, stated that it was not a matter for their office as the alleged breach was of the Constitution and not the Elections Law.

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Woman attacked by intruder

| 30/06/2009 | 24 Comments

(CNS): A 26-year-old woman was attacked in her home in West Bay during the early hours this morning (Tuesday 30 June). Police said the woman was seriously shaken and left with minor injuries after she awoke at around 4:10am to find an unknown assailant in her home in Boggy Sands Road holding something in his hand that she thought could have been a gun. The woman managed to escape from the intruder and police are now appealing for witnesses. The attacker has been described as a dark, tall man of stout build who was wearing short pants.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) said it has now started an investigation into the attack. “We are working hard to identify this man and are following up a number of leads. We would like to hear from anyone who was in the area around the time of the incident who may have seen this man before or after the attack. Did you see someone running from the area? If you did, please get in touch,” said Detective Sergeant Colin Oremule.

Following a call to the 911 Emergency Communications Centre from a resident of Boggy Sands Road, West Bay, reporting that a neighbour had been attacked, police responded to the scene.

Officers found that the victim had been attacked in her home by an unknown assailant. The lady has told police that she was asleep on the sofa when she awoke to find a man in the room. She said the man was holding something covered in his hand, which she thought might have been a gun. He said if she did what she was told and did not scream she would not be hurt. Fortunately, the woman was able to break free from the man and make her escape from the house. She ran to a neighbour’s property to raise the alarm, injuring her arm and ankle in the process. Police carried out a full area search but the offender was not located.

Scenes of crime officers processed the scene and it is believed the offender gained entry through an insecure door. Detectives from West Bay CID are investigating the incident and are following up a number of leads. A cell phone was taken from the premises which has since been recovered.

Area Commander, Chief Inspector Angelique Howell commented that this was a very frightening situation for the victim and no resident should ever have to go through such an experience. “This was a hugely traumatic experience for the victim and we are making sure that counselling is available should she want it,” she said. “These types of incidents really highlight how important it is to have safety at the forefront of our minds.”

Residents are reminded to keep homes and vehicles secure, be aware of their surroundings at all times and report suspicious activity to police or Crime Stoppers. Chief Inspector Howell said that anyone concerned about their safety or anyone who would like security advice is welcome to contact her at the West Bay police station on 949- 3999.

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

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LIME sponsors hotline

| 30/06/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Continued development on the island has resulted in an increase in wildlife issues and the Wildlife Emergency Hotline 917-BIRD(2473) is needed more than ever. Alison Corbett of Cayman Wildlife Rescue, who is Project Manager for the hotline, said, “We are receiving more calls on 917-BIRD than ever before. So far in 2009 our call volume on the Hotline has gone up 160%.” To help CWS run this much needed service, LIME has renewed its sponsorship of the hotline.

“This LIME sponsored Hotline is a lifeline for wildlife in trouble, providing the public with 24/7 support for wildlife in crisis,” Corbett said.

This sponsorship also coincides with LIME’s new commitment to the environment. Tony Ritch, Country Manager, LIME Cayman Islands, stated “I am pleased that as a company we can provide support for this organization to continue their very important task of saving Cayman Wildlife for future generations.”

Cayman Wildlife Rescue is a programme of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, tasked with the rescue of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife for releaseback into the wild. It is financed by donations from the public and staffed entirely by volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering please contact Alison Corbett at caymanwildliferescue@gmail.com. For more information you can also visit www.caymanwildliferescue.org.

What to do if you find injured wildlife – Call 917-BIRD(2473) for all wildlife emergencies. Cayman Wildlife Rescue has a team of experienced and trained volunteers ready to assist in wildlife emergencies. The public are reminded to NEVER attempt to care for a wildlife animal themselves as they required special diets and veterinary care.
 

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CIMA tells British American to stop issuing policies

| 30/06/2009 | 6 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority has issued a cease and desist order to British American Insurance Company Limited, publicly known as BAICO, prohibiting BAICO from issuing any new insurance policies of any kind. BAICO is part of the collapsed regional firm CL Financial which also owns CLICO. CIMA stated that the order significantly expands BAICO’s reporting requirements and directs it to maintain all assets in the Cayman Islands to ensure the satisfactory coverage of all policy holder liabilities and prohibits the company from transferring any of its assets without the Authority’s approval.

The order states that BAICO is to, “maintain at all times an adequate asset level in its Trust as required by section 7(1) of the [Insurance] Law.” (Section 7(1) of the law requires an insurer carrying on domestic business to place and maintain on trust sufficient funds to meets its policyholder liabilities as determined by an actuary.” CIMA has also asked the company to submit specific information on its policies namely health insurance, policies with investment features, life insurance, pension and annuity, property, personal accident and any other policies in its remit

CIMA explained that it has issued this cease and desist order to safeguard the public interest and to protect the Company’s policyholders while the Authority continues its examination of BAICO’s affairs. The Authority also said that it expects BAICO to continue to honour its obligations to its policyholders as the ongoing examination of the Company by the Authority does not preclude the Company from honouring these obligations.

 “The situation with BAICO is an ongoing matter and, as such, the Authority is restricted in its ability to provide any additional details on the matter to the public at this time. CIMA will provide further updates to the public as and when it is in a position to do so,” CIMA stated in a release.

However, BAICO a long standing financial institution in the region and is reportedly on the brink of collapse and last week governments in the /EasternCaribbean region met to examine their risk exposure regarding the firm. The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Monetary Council has sought legal counsel in order to protect the interests of regional stakeholders from further risk posed by what was described as the insolvent insurance company. British American Insurance Co Ltd began operations in the Cayman Islands some 46 years ago back in 1963.

 

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LA approves further deficit

| 30/06/2009 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Members of the Legislative Assembly voted on the government’s stop-gap budget yesterday, which predicted a deficit for the four month period of more than $50million. Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson explained that as the four month expenditure predictions and the anticipated revenue predictions were based on the same period in 2008, government spending would once again outstrip government earnings, leaving a significant shortfall between the two that would be made up out of the government’s new borrowings.

Speaking in the debate on Monday, 29 June, Jefferson explained that of the $573.6 million the government was asking the House to approve, actual government operational costs would be around $185 million, while earnings were expected to be only around $134 million, creating the deficit.

As the government had to approve some form of financing in order to pay bills, meet debt payments, as well as payments on capital projects, the financial secretary has said this budget is simply a continuation of the previous government policy direction, based on last year’s statistics that will provide the current government with lawful funding until it creates its own policy statement and new budget.

He emphasised again that it was not a reflection of what would be the full 2009/10 budget, which would come before Finance Committee once the government had defined its policy objectives, probably in September. He noted that some of the pre-appropriations were for outputs (spending) that had to be paid now but could cover the full year or a substantial part of the entire year’s spending, such as scholarships or payment for the Government’s Office Accommodation project.

He said, too, that civil servants would not necessarily spend the entire appropriation, but warned that government earnings could be even less than predicted given the state of the global economy.

Answering some of the questions raised by members, Jefferson noted that the Special Police Investigation Team’s appropriation of $1.5 million was based on a third of last year’s spending as he said the Portfolio of Internal Affairs was unable to provide any information on what was happening with SPIT and what they would need, but Jefferson said as the investigation is continuing it was prudent to allocate some funding for it.

Although Jefferson answered some of the criticisms hurled at him from the opposition benches on Friday regarding his sudden revision of government finance for this financial year (see Jefferson hits back), he did not address the fundamental question which had been raised. He did not explain why he had stated on 5 May to the then Cabinet that predictions for the financial year 2009/10 were holding true and government was on course for a $29 million deficit but then, around one month later, had offered entirely different statistics to the incoming administration. Jefferson, however, said he would offer a statement in due course.

Continuing his own speech about the appropriations, Education Minister Rolston Anglin insisted it was not a budget and not a reflection of what the government intended to spend over the year. He warned however, given the economic situation, that there would be a deficit in any budget the new government creates because of the costs, borrowings and global situation, and he said people could not expect the new United Democratic Party to sort out the problems overnight.

Despite his comments on Friday that the civil service and his own ministry in particular was over manned, he said there would not be any personnel cuts and he said the government was not prepared to send people out to find work in a soft private sector market. However, he said the government would work diligently to cut costs.

Before the motion was put to the vote, Jefferson noted that as government borrowing and revenue had now surpassed the net-debt ratio limit of 80% and cash reserves had fallen below 90 days, the House would have to seek approval from the FCO for any new borrowings from 1 July.

Following thecall from Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush for a division, the members approved the appropriation by a vote of 15 ayes and one abstention from the third elected member for George Town.

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Madoff not going down alone

| 30/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(AP): In one of the highest-profile financial fraud cases in history, a judge firmly sided with Bernard Madoff’s thousands of victims when he gave the disgraced financier a sentence long enough for him to die in prison. (150 years) But the probe does not end there. A person familiar with the investigation said 10 more people would face federal charges by the time the probe is completed. So far, only Madoff and an accountant accused of failing to make basic auditing checks have been criminally charged.

 

 

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School rules

| 30/06/2009 | 25 Comments

Uniform polices that are completely unneeded and bear no academic educational purpose keep bombarding our school. For example, starting September students will be expected to wear plain black shoes only. Why? There’s nothing wrong with plain white shoes, or white and black, or blue.

This pointless rule will cause moreproblems than it is “intended” to solve. Parents will be forced to waste money for no real reason at all.

It is the same with haircuts. Students are hassled constantly about the upkeep of their hair. Even if a student’s hair is longer than what the school expects, it shouldn’t be a problem if it is kept neat. It is absolutely ridiculous to apply punishment for something this trivial.

From research and interviewing I have found that the reason for these rules is to prepare young students for the uniform codes of the working world. Why is it so vital to put so much emphasis on something that can be learned in a day?

The school board must take us for a bunch of idiots. Anybody applying for a decent job will know what and what not to wear. It’s like they expect someone who has a position in administration to show up in a swim suit and sandals if these rules are not enforced. Also, a company or business will tell employees what they expect of them, so years of practice are pretty much meaningless. Furthermore, I’ve yet to see their words reflect in the teachers’ wardrobe. I don’t see every teacher wearing black shoes in school and I certainly don’t see only one or two different colours. So tell me, if the uniform is so crucial, why isn’t it like that in the working world?

If you ask me, less focus should be put on uniforms and more should be put on education. Not just via grades, but also through furthering academic studies by scholarships and programs like A levels. Education at that level is so important in the world right now. With the standards rising constantly, it is now the minimum requirement for people to earn a bachelor’s degree. Proper uniform code won’t get you into college, grades will. I mean, colleges look at your transcript not your picture.

The school has become so obsessed with maintaining “perfect dress code” that they have turned a blind eye towards the result of the matter. Since the school is implementing such unreasonable decrees students are responding by simply not obeying. This causes the school to applystricter discipline. The students will start to bear hatred towards staff, which in return will make the school believe that they are doing the right thing. In the end, all that is accomplished is resentment and maybe even tarnish someone’s permanent record. The school has to break the illusion that we are really getting something out of this.

If someone does not speak up soon, the school board is going to wipe out any individuality left. We have to right to express ourselves to a certain point.

 

Toby Watson is a Year 11 student at Cayman Brac High School

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Mac outlines more new deals

| 30/06/2009 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Reviewing his recent overseas trip to Europe, Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush outlined, on Monday, the current state of ongoing negotiations for tax information exchange, as well as the start of new talks with a number of countries. He said the government would be signing a deal with the Netherlands on 8 July but had reached technical agreements with several others.

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on 29 June, he gave an update on what had happened over the last two weeks and what was in the pipeline. He noted that under his government’s new approach Cayman could look forward to signing with Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Italy and Mexico in the near future and that negotiations were well advanced with both Portugal and France. He also related that expressions of interests to sign TIEAs had come from the Czech Republic and Japan and the Cayman government had expressed its willingess, through the OECD, to enter into negotiations with other OECD member countries.

He noted the successful completion of agreements with the United Kingdom and Ireland, giving Cayman ten bilateral treaties in place. The signing of the Netherlands agreement in Holland next week will leave the Cayman Islands only one agreement short of the OECD’s requirement of twelve TIEAs.

Bush acknowledged the work that had been carried out by the previous negotiation team but said it was regretful that the former administration had not moved more quickly. “As a result the country was placed on the OECD grey list after the G20 meeting in April,” he reminded the House. He said when the new government took up office at the end of May, the OECD considered Cayman not to be fully co-operative as it did not have the minimum 12 agreements, which was negatively impacting the financial services industry, he said.

“Being on the grey list, particularly when some of our competitors were not, was causing damage to the reputation of the financial services industry,” he added. “It was also understood that not only did being on the grey list damage our international reputation as a financial services centre but that it also had some direct negative commercial effects as some clients were considering doing business elsewhere because of the attention the jurisdiction was getting due to being on the grey list.”

Given that financial services and the wider economy was already facing significant challenges due to the global downturn, being on the grey list made things worse, Bush said.

“The UDP administration decided to take a new approach to the negotiations on tax information exchange agreements with a view to being removed from the grey list as soon as possible, while at the same time ensuring that any new agreements were consistent with the interest of the Cayman Islands as a leading international financial centre,” he said.

Bush claimed the proactive approach was consistent with the commitment given to the OECD by the Cayman Islands, but was also necessary to demonstrate to the international community that Cayman is serious about engaging in cooperation with other countries in the exchange of information for legitimate enforcement of their tax laws.

“The Cayman Islands has no direct taxes and this government has no intention to change this situation. We want to, however, send the message that we are not a ‘tax haven’ but, on the contrary, we continue to be a responsible member of the international community that adheres to relevant international standards of compliance with respect to tax cooperation and hence should be properly recognised for what we are: an international financial centre that happens to be a small but significant country in the Caribbean – the use of whose regime adds significant value to the global economy,” Bush added.

He accused the opposition of playing politics while he was in Europe working on the agreements, but the fact was the Cayman Islands is on the OECD grey list and he said it was the new government’s job to do what is necessary to remove this jurisdiction from that list and restore its reputation.

“The reason why the opposition is where they are today is because they played politics with such matters and I have no interest in going that road. My job as leader of this government/Premier Designate, or whatever they are going to call me, is to get this country out of this mess, and my government is going to achieve that,” Bush added.

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McCarthy new CIMA Chair

| 29/06/2009 | 23 Comments

(CNS): Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush has announced that Chief Secretary George McCarthy, who retires from his position as head of the Civil Service tomorrow, has been offered and accepted the chairmanship of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA). Paying tribute to the First Official Member in the Legislative Assembly on Monday afternoon (29 June), Bush said that his talents were too great to lose and he had asked him to take on the role after a quick respite.

Bush said that there was too much need and too much work to be done to dispense with the kind of experience and sage advice that McCarthy could offer. The LoGB said he didn’t “like this 60 thing”, referring to the retirement age. He said McCarthy was not too old to continue helping to keep the good ship Cayman on course and there was too much to do for him to go away and rest.

He noted McCarthy’s contribution over the years to the Cayman Islands’ financial services, from his past role as financial secretary, his involvement in crafting the legislation that has helped keep Cayman competitive, and most recently as head of the new taskforce spearheading the work to get Cayman off the OECD grey list.

Bush said McCarthy had made a distinguished and invaluable contribution to the islands during his career in the civil service steering Cayman through turbulent financial waters and he looked forward to working with himin his new role.

Leader of the Opposition Kurt Tibbetts said that McCarthy had already played a significant role in the country’s success in financial services and the development of the civil service, and noted that his understanding of public service was because he had worked from the ground up starting as a clerk in the education department back in the late 1960s.

McCarthy, in his closing speech to the House, said he was humbled by the comments and he said the attorney general had told him not to cry. He said it had been a privilege to serve in the House since 1992.

Bush made no mention of the future role of the current chairman, Carlyle McLaughlin, who was appointed as the Chairman of the Board less than 12 months ago on 27 July 2008. McLaughlin’s appointment was met with considerable controversy when he replaced Tim Ridley, who had served as chair since 2004.

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Rapist gets 12 years

| 29/06/2009 | 5 Comments

(CNS): Christopher Omar Samuels, who pleaded guilty to the 2002 rape of a visitor to the Cayman Islands in the rest rooms of the Westin Casuarinas Resort, was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Friday, 26 June. Thirty-three-year-old Samuels was charged in January 2009, nearly seven years after the offence was committed, after DNA evidence linked him to the case. The victim of this crime commented on CNS in January, "First I’d like to say to the person who has a great sympathy for Mr. Samuels that I do as well. I feel very sorry for him."

She continued, "It seems pathetic to seek sex by breaking down a toilet stall door and putting a knife to the throat of a 48 year old woman. But there is also the possibility that he was seeking to find pleasure in inflicting pain and humiliation. In this case I would have to say I truly despise him, and he deserves no sympathy from anyone but the devil himself.

"For the last seven years I have been trying to ‘feel normal’, but am stillfearful of leaving my home, especially at night. I also need an operation to repair internal ligaments that were torn in the attack. But at least I can now afford health care.

"I used to be a ‘career woman’, but lost my job, and eventually used up all my savings,etc. I got very ill, emotionally and physically, and couldn’t eat for days at times. Eventually even losing half my hair due to poor nutrition. In no particular order….I came down with PTSD, sleep apnea, melanoma, shingles, meningitis, fungal sinutis and sudden onset menopause. So if you think rape victims need to just ‘snap out of it’, think again. Once a downward health spiral starts, you can feel overwhelmed. And if the rapist isn’t caught, the world feels so dangerous that you can lose all desire to thrive.

‘Well, it’s taken 7 years, but finally I feel the healing power of Justice, The news of the arrest made me more whole than any medicine or settlement could. I was overjoyed to hear from RCIPS that day. I cried and cried. I now have great admiration for the perseverance and professionalism of the RCIPS major crimes division. They said they would never close this case until it was solved, and they were true to their word," the victim concluded.

“This was a terrible attack which had a huge impact on the victim,” said Head of CID, Acting Chief Superintendent Marlon Bodden. “We hope that this sentence will help bring some closure to the victim and demonstrate our commitment to thoroughly investigating such heinous crimes.”

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) said it is committed to bringing offenders before the court and will continue to examine old cases and utilize all available new technologies to assist in solving crimes.

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