Archive for December 11th, 2009

Cayman Prep wins schools sailing championship

| 11/12/2009 | 0 Comments

Cayman Islands Sports News(CNS): The primary division in the 2009 RBC School Sailing Championship was won by a team of sailors from Cayman Prep. The school was very excited to win this title as the last time they won this regatta was in 2002. Cayman Prep now holds the title in the primary division of the “Best school sailing team in Cayman”, a title that had been previously held by St. Ignatius. The regatta was sailed on 27 November at the Cayman Islands Sailing Club (CISC) and was sailed in Picos.

A total of sixteen races were held in windy conditions which made for challenging sailing. On average just over ten young sailors per school competed in each team and a points system determined which team won overall.

St. Ignatius came second and Savannah Primary School came third. A total of six schools competed this year, the largest number of primary teams in the championship’s eleven year history with eighty children competing in the regatta.

Unfortunately the strong wind postponed the senior division to a later date.

Cayman Islands Sprots NsMichael Weber, sailing director for the Cayman Islands Sailing Club, praised the children and gave thanks to RBC. “Each year we see more sailors and better sailing. I am delighted that RBC increased its sponsorship for this year’s event.”

Weber also noted the other sponsors. “Special thanks to the Brick House for providing the food for the regatta, the Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports & Culture for continuing to support our school sailing programme and Dairy Queen for some frozen treats for the kids.”

The next major regatta is the Captain Leroy Watson Regatta in East End on the long weekend on 23rd-24th January 2010. Anyone interested in sailing should check out the CISC’s website at www.sailing.ky or the club’s Facebook page.

Final results

1st Cayman Prep
2nd St. Ignatius
3rd Savannah Primary School
4th Red Bay Primary School
5th Prospect Primary School
6th George Town Primary School

For more information on the Cayman Islands Sailing Team, please contact Mike Weber at sailing@sailing.ky

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Pizza man escapes robbers

| 11/12/2009 | 38 Comments

(CNS): Two would-be robbers, who threatened a driver from a local pizza company with a knife, were left empty-handed after their intended victim drove away. Police say that about 10.45pm last night, Thursday 10 December, the driver was attempting to make a delivery to a home in Shirley Towbis Lane, Bodden Town. When he was unable to find the address he was looking for, he asked two men who were standing nearby for directions. The men directed the delivery man to a house in the lane. But when he got there he was informed by the resident that no-one in the house had placed an order.

As he was driving back out of the lane the same two men stepped out in front of the car. One of them produced a knife and demanded cash.

The delivery driver immediately drove off and reported the matter to police. The RCIPS said he was not injured and no money was taken. The men responsible are described as having dark skin and were wearing black sweatshirts and blue jeans. One of them had his face covered with a black bandana, which had a floral design.

CID Detective Chief Inspector Peter Kennett said, “Fortunately the delivery driver was able to evade the would-be robbers and drive off without handing over any cash. However we need the help of the public to find out who these men are. If you have any information which could help us track them down I would ask you to contact Bodden Town CID on 947 -2220, or call Crime Stoppers on 800 – 8477 (TIPS).

“I would also take this opportunity to remind companies offering delivery services to continue to make sure they try to verify that orders being placed are genuine,” Kennet added.
 

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Judge admits evidence

| 11/12/2009 | 0 Comments

Cayman Islands News(CNS): Justice Charles Quin has ruled in favour of the defence team representing Randy Martin over a question of admissibility on certain evidence that it says could point the finger of guilt for the murder of Sabrina Schirn away from Martin and towards another assailant. The Grand Court judge said that in the interests of ensuring a fair trial for the defendant he will allow telephone record evidence — phone messages left on Schirn’s voice mail on the eve of her murder and witness statements given to the police that suggest a false alibi — to be placed before the court.

As a result of the ruling, the judge himself will be calling the witnesses connected to the statements and the phone threats. He explained that he did not feel it was appropriate for him to compel the prosecution to call the witnesses, as it was not for him to tell the crown how to manage its own case, nor, he conceded, was it an ideal situation for the defence to call witnesses that it wanted to cross examine. He therefore said that a production order would be issued for one of the witnesses serving time in HMP Northward and a witness summons for the other.

The two witnesses have already been cited in the court during other testimony as having left threatening voice messages on Schirn’s voice mail service, and include an ex-boyfriend of Schirn’s and a nephew of Randy Martin, who is currently serving a twenty year sentence for attempted murder. The ex-boyfriend is also said to have visited Schirn’s place of work and physically threatened her in front of customers in the Blockbuster store.  

The defence wishes to cross examine both the witnesses about what they say are the threats, the opportunity and motive to commit the crime and, above all, their conflicting alibi statements that make it clear one or both were not entirely honest about their whereabouts at the time that the prosecution says, and the defence agrees, Schirn was murdered in East End close to the prison farm.

Prior to Justice Quin’s ruling that the evidence would be admitted, Adam King, junior counsel on the defence team along with David Evans QC, also told the court that he andhis senior counsel had considerable concerns about the problem of disclosure that was continuing during the course of the trial. He explained that, again, the defence had been served with relevant documentation just a few days ago, which raised a number of questions about the culpability of others in this crime and the innocence of their client.

Suspicions by other witnesses and police officers that Schirn was under threat from her former boyfriend because she had knowledge of another serious crime he had committed were contained in police notebooks, which they had only just got sight of and had not yet had time to scrutinize properly..

King explained, however, that while he had not been able to examine all the evidence thoroughly as yet, he had already come across some 25 notable points, many of which the defence would have like to have had the opportunity to cross examine witnesses on, but he said that those individuals have already come and gone through the witness stand, which placed the defence in a difficult situation.  

In the afternoon’s session King then cross-examined an expert witness on telephone records and established that the witness statements given to the police by Schirn’s former boyfriend, establishing his alibi, was almost certainly false. Although he had told police he was in West Bay with his girlfriend during the morning of the murder, his cell phone records clearly indicated his phone was in use in Red Bay until 10:30am. After being used and picked up by a cell site in Red Bay around 10:30, his phone is then completely inactive for two hours before the cell signal is activated again around 12:30pm in the same area.

The prosecution will continue with its case against Martin on Friday morning with police witnesses. The two witnesses that are to be called by the judge are likely to make their appearance in the court on Monday. Although originally scheduled to last three to four weeks, it is likely that this murder trial will now stretch into the New Year.    

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Hurricane forecasters hedge their bets for 2010

| 11/12/2009 | 21 Comments

Cayman Islands weather news(CNS): Admitting their December forecasts have been less than spot on over the years, the hurricane forecasting team at Colorado State University (CSU) is offering a wider window of opportunity to get it right for its first prediction of the 2010 season. Less than two weeks after the close of the uneventful 2009 Altantic hurricane season, Dr Phil Klotzbach and Dr Bill Gray are calling for above normal levels of tropical cyclone activity with 11 to 16 named storms and six to eight hurricanes, three of which are likely to become major hurricanes. Klotzbach and Gray also said they expect a major hurricane landfall in the US and Caribbean.

Being less specific the famous duo are hoping to get nearer the mark.

The CSU team is one of the few to issue hurricane season forecasts so far in advance of the June to November ‘official’ hurricane season, but these early preditions tend not to be exact and have often ben revised several times but they believe this year the skill in preiction has ben improved. “We believe our new early December forecast scheme will begin to demonstrate forecast skill in the coming years,” they stated.

This year the two hurricane experts have said the range of storms could be between 11 and 16, giving them considerable leeway in this early prediction and moving away from the tradition of calling a set figure. But they did say that they will narrow down the number in April.

“Everyone should realize that it is impossible to precisely predict next season’s hurricane activity at such an extended range,” the hurricane duo stated in their report. “There is, however, much curiosity as to how global ocean and atmosphere features are presently arranged as regards the probability of an active or inactive hurricane season for next year.”

Klotzbach and Gray explained that they issue the early forecasts to satisfy the curiosity of the general public and to bring attention to the hurricane problem. “There is a curiosity in knowing what the odds are for an active or inactive season next year. One must remember that our forecasts are based on the premise that those global oceanic and atmospheric conditions which preceded comparatively active or inactive hurricane seasons in the past provide meaningful information about similar trends in future seasons.”

Gray said the conditions for this season show warm sea surface temperatures, which will contribute to the above-average activity predicted for 2010. The 2009 season was quieter because of high wind shear over the Atlantic and the global weather pattern shift due to El Niño. A total of nine storms developed during 2009, three became hurricanes.

The Colorado forecasters will issue updates in April, June, and August.

Go to the season’s first prediction

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Walkers looks East

| 11/12/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Local offshore legal firm Walkers appears to be singing from the same hymn sheet as Premier McKeeva Bush as the firm turns its focus to the Asian market. The firm said that over the past five years there had been significant growth in foreign direct investment in Asia, and particularly in the Peoples’ Republic of China. In that time, thousands of companies have been incorporated in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the Cayman Islands to facilitate such investments. During the last meeting of the Legislative Assembly Bush promised to help promote Cayman in the Far East and open an arm of the CIB in Hong Kong.

Walkers explained that, due to differences in legal frameworks and financial markets around the world, achieving success for shareholders, investors and creditors can sometimes prove challenging. The dependability of the legal systems in the BVI and the Cayman Islands is often a key factor in the decision to use incorporated companies in one or both of those jurisdictions in Asian corporate structures.

“Arguably, the enforcement of domestic security in Europe and North America is more dependable than domestic security in developing markets,” said John Rogers, head of the Finance and Corporate team for Walkers’ Singapore office. “However, where there is some uncertainty about the enforceability of domestic security, which is sometimes the case in developing Asian markets, offshore security and structuring are integral.” 

Walkers said that the recent economic downturn has systemically changed financial centres around the world and materially impacted Asian finance. These changes will likely result in changes to financial agreements moving forward. 

“Only a few years ago, borrowers had enormous power. Wielding this power to hamstring banks, borrowers were left to essentially structure deals by their own terms. We now have a Brave New World, where power is back in the hands of the lenders who have renewed leverage to increase their collateral and security positions,” said Andy Randall, head of the Finance and Corporate team for Walkers’ Hong Kong office. “As creditors and shareholders continue to fight for their rights in financial agreements, this trend could be a game-changer in Asia and around the world.”

In the developing Asian markets, Walkers has seen increased utilization of offshore security packaging, restructuring and the use of offshore insolvency-related remedies as a means to achieving onshore solutions.

“The financial crisis has forced a shift in the offshore markets to focus on rights, remedies and enforcement options for creditors and shareholders, financial and corporate restructuring, and the resolution of shareholder and investor disputes,” said Randall “In addition, many hedge funds have been looking at restructuring to survive lower returns, liquidity concerns and other market challenges. This shift has created opportunities for implementing solutions that combine onshore and offshore elements.”

Achieving the right outcome involves working together with the onshore lawyers in the relevant market from the outset. The offshore enforcement strategy for an Indonesian asset, for example, may be different than the strategy for a Chinese asset or an Indian asset.

“Offshore-onshore interaction has become a necessity to favorably resolve restructuring and insolvency issues, particularly in the Asian markets. When it comes to pre-emptive enforcement of offshore security, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands are seen as creditor friendly jurisdictions,” said Antonia Hardy, head of Walkers’ Global Finance & Corporate Group. “Offshore services often provide part of the solution. However, the strategic analysis prior to the enforcement is absolutely crucial.”

This is a view shared by Fraser Hern, the head of the Walkers’ Hong Kong Restructuring and Insolvency team. “Strategic analysis prior to an enforcement or restructuring is critical, and should involve both onshore and offshore counsel. There is a wide range of differing options available as a matter of BVI or Cayman Islands law which can assist stakeholders involved in distressed scenarios onshore.  Determining which is appropriate in any given scenario requires a thorough analysis of key issues at an early stage, including the location of the underlying assets, identity of key creditors, attitudes of local courts, future liquidity issues, and identifying the client’s ultimate objectives.  Strategies differ widely depending on the specific details of the matter in hand."

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Benefits of JA’s CARICOM membership questioned

| 11/12/2009 | 0 Comments

(Jamaica Observer): Arguing that Jamaica’s involvement with Caricom has done more harm than good to the country, Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) president Omar Azan has said that Government needs to re-evaluate its membership with the regional umbrella group. Caricom is a group of 15 Caribbean nations and dependencies, aimed at promoting economic integration and cooperation among member states. However, speaking at the JMA’s Annual Christmas Appreciation Luncheon yesterday, Azan said that more negatives than positives have arisen out of Jamaica’s membership with the group since its inception in 1973.

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SPIT lawyer disbarred

| 11/12/2009 | 25 Comments

Cayman Island News(CNS): The Bar Standards Board of the United Kingdom has disbarred the former legal advisor of the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT) as a result of his role in the unlawful arrest of the Cayman Islands Grand Court judge, Justice Alex Henderson, during Operation Tempura. The penalty was handed down to Martin Polaine by the Board’s Disciplinary Tribunal in the UK on Wednesday, 9 December, following a hearing earlier this year in which Polaine had admitted all seven charges against him of professional misconduct. The hearing was convened as a result of a complaint filed by Justice Henderson.

According to the details revealed on the Bar Standards website, all of the charges related directly to the advice that Polaine gave to the lead investigating officer of SPIT, Martin Bridger, regarding the unlawful arrest of Henderson and the warrants obtained to search his home and office.

“Martin Polaine … advised the Cayman Islands authorities that there was reasonable suspicion that The Honourable H, a Judge of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands, had committed the offence of misconduct in public office, in circumstances where there was no such reasonable suspicion and Mr Polaine, as a person not qualified to practise as a lawyer in, or with expert knowledge of the law of, the Cayman Islands, knew or ought to have known he was not competent to give such advice…,” the disciplinary findings stated.

The board noted that Polaine failed to advise that applications for the warrants should have been made to a judge and not a justice of the peace (JP) and that he also failed to advise on the need for disclosure.  This meant that important facts were not placed before Carson Ebanks, the JP who signed the warrants, such as the chief justice’s earlier refusal to issue search warrants in connection with this element of Operation Tempura.

The UK’s legal tribunal also found that Polaine was not qualified to practise as a lawyer, or offer expert knowledge of the law in the Cayman Islands, and knew or ought to have known he was not competent to give such advice. He also allowed himself to be introduced as a lawyer to Carson Ebanks, the JP, without telling that him that he was not qualified to practisein Cayman, and the board said this created a “misleading impression” about the search warrants which Ebanks ultimately signed.

The counsel revealed that Polaine was also offering his legal services in Cayman when neither he nor Amicus Legal Consultants Limited, his employer, was covered by insurance against claims for professional negligence.

The Bar counsel said that Polaine had brought the legal profession into disrepute when he expressed a personal opinion to the press that the advice he had given to Bridger in relation to the arrest of Henderson was correct in the wake of Sir Peter Cresswell’s October judgment, which found that Henderson had been unlawfully arrested, inferring that ruling was wrong. Cresswell presided over the judicial review that Justice Henderson applied for within a short time of the controversial arrest. After the five day hearing, Cresswell ruled in Henderson’s favour and accused the Operation Tempura team of “… the gravest abuse of process” when he found the arrest unlawful.

Prior to his own disciplinary hearing, Polaine had formally apologised to Justice Henderson in writing. “I deeply regret my failures in the above regard and, again, wish to express my unreserved apologies,” he wrote.

Following Henderson’s official complaint, the Bar Standards Board convened the disciplinary hearing, during which Polaine admitted that, while he had given advice in good faith, he had to concede, in the light of that ruling, that his judgement had been shown to be poor. “I recognise that my erroneous advice has had a profound effect on Justice Henderson, his family, and the Cayman Islands as a whole.  I apologise unreservedly.  I also accept that my poor standard of professional conduct in this regard has had a detrimental effect on the reputation of the Bar of England & Wales in the Cayman Islands.  Again, I offer my sincere apologies,” Polaine told the board.

Despite his admission and apologies, however, Polaine has now been stripped of his right to practice his profession as a lawyer, but he is the only person connected to the discredited Operation Tempura investigations to face any kind of formal accountability.

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