Archive for November 11th, 2009

Cops silent on polling enquiry

| 11/11/2009 | 50 Comments

(CNS): Updated 6:30pm — Despite media requests for updates on the investigations regarding election irregularities on polling day, the police had remained silent for several months about the enquiry until this afternoon.Almost six months after the allegations were made that United Democratic Party supporters were handing out campaign material to voters on the morning of the election, contravening the Elections Law, the public has not been told who was responsible for giving out the small cards to voters or whether the distribution was sanctioned by the party hierarchy. Folllowing the CNS post this morning about the lack of informaiton, police confirmed the enquiry was still ongoing but gave no details.

Complaints regarding possible issues of undue influence were made by several voters as well as other election candidates on polling day, 20 May, to election office officials, who in turn alerted the police. Witnesses said that small cards with each of the four UDP George Town candidates’ names and their corresponding ballot paper numbers were being handed to voters at polling stations by UDP party volunteers in George Town, Prospect and West Bay. Although the cards were seen by numerous witnesses, including the media, party representatives denied that they had been handed to voters on the day of the poll but that they had been in circulation from one of the party’s last elections rallies.

However, a number of witnesses said they had seen a candidate bring the cards to the tent where party volunteers were situated on the edge of the polling station boundary, and were then reportedly seen handing out the cards to people who stopped to make enquiries about the election procedure.

Alden McLaughlin, who was one of the candidates that observed UDP party associates with the cards, brought one to the Legislative Assembly soon after the election and raised his concerns then. “I sat in my car and asked a supporter of ours to attend the UDP tent, where she was handed (this) card with the four UDP candidates and their numbers, and she was encouraged to vote for these four,” he said at the time. “This is a pre-printed card, a clear indication of an organised effort to influence voters.”

He told CNS this week that it was wrong to leave issues like this unresolved. “I know what I saw with my own eyes,” he said. “We have to stamp this sort of thing out as it truly undermines democracy and the election process. It should not be let go without some explanation to the public. If the police cannot find any evidence to conclude the investigations then so be it, but they need to say so.”

In June an RCIPS spokesperson said that George Town Criminal Investigation Department was investigating three separate election related matters, two incidents that occurred in George Town and one in West Bay. At that point, the police said the investigations were in their infancy but the RCIPS would endeavour to the keep the media and the public informed of progress. At the end of July CNS asked for an update and was told that the investigations were nearing completion. Since then, however, there has been no further comment from the RCIPS and despite several requests over the last few weeks, no information has been forthcoming.

McLaughlin said that although he witnessed the cards being handed out, he has never been interviewed. Deputy Supervisor of Elections Colford Scott confirmed on Wednesday that six months on, the Elections Office, which had referred the matter to law enforcement officials, had heard nothing from the RCIPS snce the report was made. In the short statement from the RCIPS today, police asked for anyone who ahd witnessed irregularities on polling day to come forward.

Under Section 92 (3) of the Elections Law, on polling day candidates are not allowed to publish any printed material which invites or induces the public to vote for a particular candidate or group of candidates and anyone contravening this section is liable to a fine of up to $500 or six months in prison.

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Maples scoops another award

| 11/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The tenants of Ugland House announced that they had won yet another award yesterday. Maples and Calder has been recognised as the number one offshore law firm for large hedge funds (over $1billion in assets) and the number two offshore law firm for small hedge funds in Absolute Return + Alpha magazine’s 2009 hedge fund service provider survey and what the firm said was one of the fund industry’s more prestigious awards. These two further accolades add to a number of awards which Maples has bagged over the past few months.

"We are always happy to receive unsolicited awards for the quality of our work, especially where they are based on client surveys," Joint Managing Partner Charles Jennings said.

Maples and Calder was recently honoured by another investment fund magazine, HFMWeek, which presented the firm with its US Hedge Fund Service Provider Award for Best Offshore Law Firm at an awards dinner last month. The Hong Kong office also received Asian Investor magazine’s Best Offshore Law Firm award as well as Asian Legal Business magazine’s Offshore Law Firm of the Year awards for Hong Kong and Japan.

Congratulating and thanking the firm’s staff on these honours, Maples and Calder Investment Funds partner David Brooks said "these awards reflect everyone’s continuing hard work." 



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Tories tell Mac they’ll back the Cayman Islands

| 11/11/2009 | 18 Comments

(CNS): The former Chief Whip of the Conservative Party, David Maclean, (left) has told the Cayman Islands premier that his party would immediately seek to rebuild Britain’s relationship with Cayman and other Overseas Territories if it is elected to government in the forthcoming UK election. At a meeting in Westminster in London on Tuesday, McKeeva Bush said the current Labour government had soured the relationship between the UK and Cayman. Bush, CIMA Chairman George McCarthy and Cayman Finance Chairman Anthony Travers met what was described as a “delegation of influential Conservative MPs” led by Maclean in the Shadow Cabinet room.

At the meeting, which was organised by Cayman Finance, Premier Bush said the Labour government had attempted to micromanage the Overseas Territories and that it had been detrimental to the relationship between the Cayman Islands and the UK. He emphasised that the Cayman Islands was an international business centre, not a tax haven.

“The relationship between the Cayman Islands and the UK has not always been fraught, quite the contrary, but the current Labour government has chosen to sour relations in order to use Cayman’s tax situation as a distraction from their own,” Bush told the Tories.

Anthony Travers told the MPs that it was a matter of some regret that the truth of the position has been obfuscated by the political grandstanding and the blame deflection of the current Labour government.  “The mischaracterisations that have resulted are not merely unfair to the Cayman Islands but if they persist would provide an unsound basis for United Kingdom’s tax policy,” Travers said. “The truth of the position is not difficult to ascertain. The reports from the onsite investigations of the IMF, Financial Action Task Force and even the US General Accountability Office corroborate the position beyond all doubt.”

According to a release from Cayman Finance, the delegation of the UK’s political right wing assured Bush that he would see a transformation inattitude with a Conservative government, with one MP even stating that the current administration was merely jealous of the Cayman Islands tax regime, noting that tax competition was both desirable and healthy.  Another unnamed MP allegedly pointed out the irony of the Labour government giving Overseas Territories British citizenship then treating them as foreigners, recalling their lack of support in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 as one such example of this, the release said.

“It was unanimously agreed that the current UK government does not appreciate or understand the value of the Cayman Islands or the other Overseas Territories and that a ‘more grown-up’ attitude was required,” Cayman Finance stated.

Maclean called for the UK to get back to the previous relationship they had with the Cayman Islands – one of friendship and mutual respect and an appreciation of the vital role Cayman plays in the global financial markets.

A Conservative member for Penrith and the Border since 1983, Maclean will not stand at the next general election, which must take place by 3 June 2010, as he suffers from multiple sclerosis. The safe Tory seat, which is the largest in England in terms of land size but one of the least populated, will be contested by Rory Stewart. With around six months to go before the election is likely to be held, polls and pundits are predicting a Conservative win. However, during the Conservative party conference, leader David Cameron urged members not to underestimate the scale of the task ahead of them due to the voting system. At the last general election in 2005, the Tories earned 32.3% of the vote with Labour gaining 35.3%. This translated to only 198 seats for the Conservatives and 365 to Labour.

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Jack Rose 1917-2009

| 11/11/2009 | 8 Comments

(CNS): The man who presided over the passing of the law which led to the creation of the Cayman Islands financial services sector has died. Jack Rose, who became the first administrator of the Cayman Islands in 1960, was 92 when he passed away last month. Rose spent four years in Cayman, and in 1961 he commissioned a draft company law, which was approved in London and passed in the islands' legislature. The law provided, among other things, for "exempt companies" and laid the foundation for the development of the offshore sector and Cayman’s economic boom. Born on18 January 1917 in London, Rose was educated at Shooters Hill School before studying Science at University College London.

He joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in October 1938, completing his training as a fighter pilot just before the outbreak of war. Rose flew many sweeps over northern France with Czech and Polish squadrons, and in October 1942 he was awarded the DFC for his courage and devotion to duty. By the end of the war, Rose was one of the very few pilots to survive its first and last days.

He joined the Colonial Service in 1946 and served in Northern Rhodesia several times before arriving in the Cayman Islands in 1960. He served here for four years during a period of immense change for the country. Following the historic 1962 election, which saw the new National Democratic Party under Ormond Panton win seven seats and the first woman elected to the LA, Rose was criticized for appointing three members to the LA without consulting the NDP leadership and rejecting Panton, who had been the people’s choice. This rejection was described by Roy Bodden in his book, The Cayman Islands in transition, as having a lasting detrimental impact on democracy in the country.

Following his time in Cayman Rose was appointed to deputy governor of British Guiana (now Guyana). His tour was cut short at the end of 1964 when his wife became ill. Between 1964 and early 1979, when he finally retired, he immersed himself in voluntary work with the Citizen's Advice Bureau. He was also the honorary treasurer of the Red Cross in Oxfordshire and from 1975 he was secretary of the Salmon and Trout Association. He was appointed MBE in 1954 and CMG in 1963

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Bahamas and Cayman split a pair

| 11/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(Nassau Guardian): In their match over the weekend, the Cayman Islands Masters and The Bahamas Masters cricket teams produced some very exciting cricket, which was enjoyed by the many fans including the 50 supporters from the Cayman Islands. On Saturday, the Caymanians batted first and were bowled out for 188 runs. Anthony Higgins and Joseph Hamilton were their top scorers with 63 and 27 runs respectively. Bowling for Team Bahamas, Venris Bennettand Omar James took three wickets apiece.

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Youth Sailing Championship

| 11/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Variable conditions made for intense racing during the 2009 Scotiabank National Youth Sailing Championship and sixteen year-old Oliver Fogerty proved that he is Cayman’s fastest youth sailor by winning the Byte class. The regatta was held at the Cayman Islands Sailing Club (CISC) on October 24th & 25th 2009. Fogerty won six out of nine races, beating Cayman’s top youth racers, Marina Maffessanti, Chris Delaney and Matthew Courtis, according to a CISC release.Shane Ebanks from Scotiabank said, "Scotibank is proud to be the sponsor of this annual event, and to lend support to the Sailing Club who hosts it."

He continued, "The Youth Sailing Championship not only provides a fun and competitive event for enthusiasts of all ages, but also has a strong link to Cayman’s past and our history at sea. On behalf of Scotiabank congratulations to all of the winners and all of the competitors of the event."

Other winners included eight year-old Prospect Primary student, Allena Rankine, claiming first place in the Optimist division and fifteen year-old Cayman Prep student, Victoria Crawshaw, winning the Pico class.

Seventeen year-old Stuart Jennings beat Alex Walton in the two boat Laser class.

In total twenty young sailors raced in the challenging two-day event which has been held annually since 2004 and determines Cayman’s top under-18 year-old sailors.

CISC sailing director, Michael Weber, noted that the regatta is both a competition and a celebration of youth sailing. “As sailing becomes more popular we are seeing both an increase in the number of participants and an improvement in the level of sailing. The fact that we have sailors of all ages and from different schools is a sign that sailing is a sport enjoyed by a broad spectrum of Cayman’s young population.”

Weber also thanked Scotiabank for its continued sponsorship. “Scotiabank’s generous support for youth sailing over the last few years has defined the regatta as one that young sailors look forward to each year.”

The next youth sailing event is the schools regatta on November 27th 2009 followed by the Christmas regatta on December 20th.

Anyone interested in youth sailing should contact Mike Weber at

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Port EIA radically reduced

| 11/11/2009 | 71 Comments

(CNS): Although government says it is committed to undertaking an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the proposed development of the cruise berthing facilities, the terms of reference have been dramatically curtailed. More than eleven major areas that would have been assessed under the previous project will not form part of the latest study. Crucial environmental issues such as the impact on fish and marine life (including turtles), water quality, as well as the underwater archaeological impact and future flooding problems for George Town are just a few of the issues that will not be considered.

The terms of reference for the EIA on the previous port project were developed based on conceptual plans and following considerable input from various stakeholder groups, including government agencies and the general public. The Department of the Environment (DoE) confirmed that it has not been involved in comprising the revised terms of reference (ToR), which appear to be a sub-set of the original.

When asked by CNS about the department’s involvement in the new project in George Town Harbour, DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said that she had not seen the plans for this current development and had only recently been given the new ToR document. She said the DoE had to assume that the newly proposed berthing facility is similar to that proposed in the previous project and noted considerable changes in the new ToR.

“The title of the revised terms of reference document refers to environmental and coastal engineering studies and not to a comprehensive EIA,” Ebanks-Petrie said, confirming fears by local activists that this new EIA will be extremely limited in its scope and leaving many question marks on the overall environmental impact of the new project.

In comparison to the EIA the DoE had put together based on wide consultation, many important elements have now been omitted.  Notably, there is no longer going to be any analysis of project alternatives or definitions of need for the project. During the previous consultation project there was considerable concern among a diverse range of stakeholders about the project’s impact on the natural, human, built and business environment of the island, but most now will not be considered.

The effects of grey water discharge, noise, solid waste, oil spills and the probable effects on maritime stakeholders, including shipping companies, tour operators and tendering operations, will not be examined, nor is there a requirement for a definition of need for island-based resources such as water, electricity, fuel and waste disposal facilities.

Ebanks-Petrie confirmed that an analysis of predicted traffic as a result of the project and recommendations for roadway improvements or traffic management strategies has not been included. She also said the impact of the development on storm water and the development of design or operational alternatives to minimize flooding and water quality impacts are not mentioned.

Human and natural environment assessments on the impact of construction and dredging activities on port and cruise operations, including tendering, watersports businesses, marine habitats and fisheries, due to dredging and blasting are not included in the latest ToR either.

Water and sediment quality will not be examined, so turbidity and sedimentation impacts during project construction and operation and other possible damage to water quality will not be measured. The previous ToR included biological assessment of fish and other marine organisms during construction and operation, an air quality assessment during dredging and pier construction, a noise level impact assessment and a socio-economic analysis, which would have included key sectors of the economy affected by the project and the consequences, none of which are now planned to be included. Nor will the overall impact on George Town itself or the harbour’s wrecks and other archaeological sites be examined.

“It appears that the coastal engineering studies have been scaled back to look primarily at the impact of constructing the project on sediment transport and potential effects on Seven Mile Beach,” Ebanks-Petrie stated.  

The previous ToR established the need of a local numerical model to handle wave diffraction and reflection associated with structures and wave energy focusing due to navigation channels, but Ebanks-Petrie confirmed that there is no reference to the development of this more detailed model in the revised ToR.

“The original ToR also proposed a physical modeling of wave energy impacts as state-of-the-art numerical models have limited accuracy in dealing with the complexity of wave transformation conditions at this site during extreme wave conditions,” she added. “All references to mitigation measures and aspects relating to hazard vulnerability, natural hazard impact assessment and climate change impacts also appear to have been omitted.”

Although Cline Glidden told CNS last week that the previous terms of reference had never been completed, Ebanks-Petrie confirmed that the Environmental Advisory Board had approved the ToR document in late May and it was were delivered to the Port Authority by CH2M Hill on 29 May.

Last week Glidden told CNS that the government was committed to protecting Seven Mile Beach but that there was no question that Cayman needed cruise berthing facilities. He did not say exactly what government was prepared to sacrifice in environmental terms but confirmed that no government that wished to be elected again would risk Seven Mile Beach.

The National Conservation Bill, which if it had been passed would have provided legal protection of the environment and forced a more comprehensive assessment before this projects gets underway, remains in draft form.

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Miller rejects key staff plans

| 11/11/2009 | 139 Comments

(CNS): The independent MLA from North Side, Ezzard Miller, has confirmed that he will not back the UDP government over any legislative changes to the current immigration law on requirements for key employee status applications. Criticising the premier’s decision to offer all senior professionals in the financial services industry key employee status if they wanted it, without any burden of proof on their part, Miller said it was tantamount to giving away Caymanian status again. Miller told CNS that while he was all for rolling out the red carpet to business and reducing work permit bureaucracy, key employee status should only be given in the rarest of circumstances.  

“The whole point is that they are key, that they are exceptional,” Miller said, and explained he was particularly concerned by the directives which have been issued to immigration and the relevant boards that senior personnel working in the finance sector would no longer have to prove that they are key. “It proposes that the boards will need to prove they shouldn’t get it rather than the other way round, altering the burden of proof, which is wrong,” he added.

Among the government’s revision of immigration policy, designed to attract new business and old business back to the Cayman Islands, is a new initiative regarding applications for key employee for senior professionals. The premier, McKeeva Bush, said last week that in the case of senior finance staff there would be a presumption that the applicant meets the requirements in the law unless this can be rebutted.

Miller, however, said this was the wrong approach as it would usher in a significant number of people that would be entitled to permanent residency and therefore Caymanian status without having to prove their worth to the island. These changes, he suggested, would make key employee designation the norm rather than the exception.

The independent and outspoken MLA said that he had always believed that every application for key employee should have to meet all of the criteria in the law and not just one or two. “Those given this should prove that not only are they in short supply here and around the world but that they are fundamental to the business in question and, most of all, that they can train Caymanians.”

Miller said that under the proposed changes, to which he objected, people would now be awarded this privilege, which would put them on the road to Caymanian status, without demonstrating their value or their ability to train Caymanians into the roll which they had been designated as key. “Never mind the glass ceiling, this is converting it to a concrete ceiling,” Miller exclaimed.

Attracting new business was important, he acknowledged, but it was equally important to protect Caymanians in the financial services sector as well and those who would want to be a part of it in the future. He accepted that offering the key employee status to partners who were bringing investment could be beneficial, but he suggested some kind of quota or control of these numbers.

The North Side representative made it clear that he would not back this change and said that, more importantly, government could not just make such a fundamental change to the immigration law without legislative amendments, and he would certainly not vote for it.

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Armistice Day memorial

| 11/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(Telegraph): The nation fell silent at 11am today as the passing of the First World War generation was marked at a moving Westminster Abbey memorial service for Armistice Day. The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, senior politicians and the heads of the Armed Forces gathered for the ceremony in central London. Former and serving military personnel joined members of the public in standing for the traditional two-minute silence to remember the sacrifice of those who have died for their country. The service was held following the deaths this year of the final three British veterans of the Great War. William Stone died in January, aged 108, followed in July by Henry Allingham, 113, and Harry Patch, 111.

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Mac pitches to moneymen

| 11/11/2009 | 38 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands road show got underway on Monday when the premier, McKeeva Bush, made a major pitch in London to members of the financial services community to relocate to the Cayman Islands and bring their business and families with them. Explaining that government has created an incentive package, which includes significant immigration changes and rolls out the red carpet for investment managers, Bush said he intended to take the Cayman Islands financial services sector to another level.

A release from the Ministry of Finance said over 60 members of the industry were present at the special presentation when Bush outlined what would be on the new red carpet to encourage them to move to Cayman. Wishing to expand the traditional administrative arm of the Cayman fund industry, the road show was going all out to encourage the moneymen to move their business and settle in the jurisdiction.

Bush promised a significant package to potential investors, including dedicated people within the Immigration Department to expedite work permit applications and investor relations officers to help them relocate. He also offered exemptions from standard term limits for work permits of senior leaders of financial services firms, such as CEOs, managing directors or other senior staff, under the existing ‘key employee designation’ programme. The premier said he was issuing directives to the Immigration Department to structure three to five-year work permits for professional staff of accredited investors, as well as a guarantee not to increase work permit fees for four years for permits under the new programme.

A proposed amendment to immigration legislation, Bush said, would also offer a 25-year direct investment certificate for investors with a net-worth of CI$5 million who have invested CI$2 million in the Cayman Islands, entitling the holder to work within the business in which they invested in and residencefor family members. He also outlined the support services that would be offered by the investment bureau and CIMA’s commitment to expediting the turnaround of time-sensitive applications.

Setting out Cayman’s proverbial stall for the London financiers, Bush said the initiative was all about encouraging the investment management arm of the fund business to move to the jurisdiction.

“Many of you in this room are direct members or are tied in some way to the global investment management sector – as we are in the Cayman Islands, given our position as the world’s leading hedge fund domicile. We see great potential to welcome this sector to our financial services community,” he said, asking them to give Cayman serious consideration as the new incentives would make it quick and efficient to relocate operations.

With a number of hedge fund mangers jumping ship from the City of London in the wake of major tax increases, the current government is extremely keen to place Cayman on the list of alternative locations.

“These incentive programmes are a first step in what we hope will be a significant global initiative to present the Cayman Islands as an ideal place to live, work and do business for the investment management community,” Bush told the gathering. “We firmly believe that the Cayman Islands will continue to be an attractive and globally-relevant financial services sector.”

Speaking to the international news agency Reuters, Bush said he wanted those in the fund business to make Cayman their home. "It’s what I encourage, it’s a new drive. You bring your children," he said. "People are running from the UK and metropolitan areas because of the tax regime."

Bush told the agency that he was hoping to see investment in Cayman reach $2.7 billion over the next three years.

Also helping to sell Cayman on the road show are a number of representatives from the private sector, including Cayman Finance chair Anthony Travers, who has spent a considerable part of this year fighting the anti-tax haven battle and who commended Bush for taking the message directly to London.

“It is encouraging to see the premier take the new Cayman message to the financial markets,” he said. “When the message is delivered in person it has a good deal more credibility. A revised immigration policy is overdue and is needed now to revitalise the financial industry and a revitalised financial industry will secure many more job opportunities for young Caymanian professionals than exist currently.”

The road show moves on later this week to New York, and then to Hong Kong and Singapore. A fifth destination has yet to be named.  

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