Archive for March 1st, 2010

Crown appeals Perez verdict

| 01/03/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Court of Appeal has agreed to hear the prosecution’s case regarding the verdict handed down by Justice Roy Anderson in the trial of Josue Carillo Perez for the murder of Martin Gareau. Justice Anderson found Perez not guilty in October of last year when he said the crown had not proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. As a result, the crown is now seeking to appeal that decision and if successful bring about a new trial. The three judges will hear Trevor Ward make the prosecution’s case to overturn the verdict on 15 March and Anthony Akiwumi, who represented Perez at trial, will defend the appeal.

Ward told the Court of Appeal on Monday morning (1 March) that the crown believed Justice Anderson had in his ruling “engaged in a speculative theory” that another assailant was involved in the murder. Ward also stated that the crown believed it had met the burden of proof. On behalf of Perez, who was not present in the court for the first hearing, Anthony Akiwumi said he would look forward to seeing the crown’s skeleton argument,which had not yet been filed with the court. Akiwumi said that he was surprised that at this late stage the crown seemed to be presenting what were “very bare grounds” for the appeal.

Perez was found not guilty of murdering 47-year-old Martin (Marty) Gareau during his trial in October 2009. At the time Justice Anderson, who sat as judge and jury, said it was plausible that Perez could have killed the Canadian national but the crown had not proved he was the assailant — just that he could have been present.

Aside from circumstantial evidence that connected Perez to Gareau, the crown’s case hung heavily on two bloody prints found at the murder scene on the door jam of Gareau’s home which were matched to Perez. The defence argued, however, that those prints could have been left at an earlier date when Perez had made a social visit to Gareau’s home for a barbeque with mutual friends.

The judge ruled that the crown had not met the burden of proof that Perez had wielded the weapon and killed Gareau. Justice Anderson said he also believed that the evidence pointed to another assailant being present. This, the crown claims, is speculative and it is this issue that will form the grounds for the appeal and what the prosecution hopes will lead to a new trial and another attempt at convicting Perez for the murder.

During the hearing Akiwumi made an application to the judges for a legal aid certificate in order to continue representing his client.

Gareau’s body was found in the garage of his home in Beach Bay, Lower Valley, on 20 May by a family member. The crime scene showed evidence of a considerable struggle and the deceased had received multiple blunt and sharp wounds. The pathologist stated that the fatal wound was a fracture to his skull.

The CI Court of Appeal spring session will sit through until 19 March hearing appeals regarding cases that have been heard in the CI Grand Court. The rulings of the Court of Appeal have considerable significance, not just on the specific cases but to set precedent with regards to the law in the islands. The three judges presiding over this session are President, Sir John Chadwick, Justice I Forte and Justice A O Conteh.

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Cayman gets quake No. 3

| 01/03/2010 | 45 Comments

(CNS): Update 2:30 pm – The earthquake that shook Grand Cayman at 11:05 this morning has been upgraded slightly to a 4.6 magnitude tremor, as posted on the US Geological Survey (USGS) website. Hazard Management Cayman Islands says this is a light earthquake and that no damage had been reported. While this is the third earthquake in the Cayman region this year, all have been small and the island has remained unscathed, in contrast to the fallout in Chile from a massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake on Saturday, which was 500 times stronger than the one that hit Haiti in January.

The latest coordinates for the centre of the earthquake on USGS are 18.921 N, -81.461 W, at a depth of 9.8 km (6.1 miles). The centre was 27 miles (43 km) S of George Town, 28 miles (45 km) SSW of Bodden Town, and 32 miles (51 km) S of West Bay. Some residents felt the tremor and evacuated buildings, HMCI says.

Today’s tremor follows a significant 5.9 magnitude earthquake which hit Grand Cayman on Tuesday, 19 January, 32 miles south of Bodden Town a little after 9:20 am at a depth of just over 6 miles. Grand Cayman also experienced a minor earth tremor of 3.7 at around 2.45 am on Friday, 12 February. The seismic event occurred some 30 miles south of George Town at a depth of 10KMs.

This morning the Seismic Unit in Jamaica issued a preliminary notification regarding the tremor, reporting it as a magnitude 4.5 quake at 11.05 am local time, 18.5 North, 81.05 West, at a depth of 10 Kilometers, approximately 47.5 miles south west of the Frank Sound seismograph.

The Puerto Rico Seismic Network issued a preliminary notification regarding the tremor, reporting it as a magnitude 4.4 quake at 19.0 North, 81.6 West, and at a depth of 16 Kilometers.


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Seven gold medals for Cayman’s Special Olympians

| 01/03/2010 | 23 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Cayman Sports News, Special Olympics(CNS): Cayman Islands athletes shone at the 2010 Special Olympics Latin American (SOLA) Regional Games in Puerto Rico, which took place 20 through 27 February. Bringing home thirteen medals, seven of them gold, the athletes were described as role models by Sports Minister Mark Scotland. Swimmer Andrew Smilley (left) won the 100m individual medley and 400m freestyle, runner Cindy Whittaker was first in the 100m and 200m sprint and won her shot put (3kg) event, Solomon Webster took gold in the individual bocce event and Leon Lambert won gold for his shot put (4kg) event.

Special Olympics Cayman Islands (SOCI) sponsored a 14-person delegation to this year’s games, according to a GIS release. The ten athletes, three coaches and delegation head Ms. Antoinette Johnson, participated in preparation for the 2011 Special Olympics Summer World Games in Greece.

“We are extremely pleased with all our athletes. The exposure and experience that the team gained in Puerto Rico will assist them in future regional and global competitions,” said SOCI National Director Kim Landry.

Their next big event will be the Cayman Islands National Games, to be held 5 June this year at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex. “Our athletes rely on support from volunteers, sponsors, friends, family and their communities and we hope to see everyone filling the stands this summer,” Landry added.

“We are very proud of our athletes’ performances. Not only are they proving that Cayman is a Special Olympics powerhouse in the region, they are also role models for us all,” said Sports Minister Scotland.

Results for Cayman Islands Special Olympics Delegation
Gold 7
Silver 2
Bronze 4
Participation Ribbon 15

Cayman Islands News, Cayman Sports News, Special Olympics

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Hedge funds in recovery

| 01/03/2010 | 0 Comments

(Reuters):  Private equity and hedge funds that were hit by the storm of the financial meltdown are now benefiting from a return of bank financing, deals, and pockets of opportunity to exit investments. Buyout firms have benefited from higher valuations for their portfolios and the ability to take some of their deals public, as seen by earnings released this week from Blackstone Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. Hedge funds, which were hammered by losses of 19 percent in 2008, rode last year’s market rally to return 20 percent in 2009, according to Hedge Fund Research. Still, executives face a challenge in generating returns and meeting investor demands for lower fees and more information from their portfolios.

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Pension holiday coming

| 01/03/2010 | 36 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news, Cayman Pension holiday(CNS): The government’s plan to offer a voluntary break for employees and employers from the mandatory obligation to pay pensions will soon come into effect. The minister with responsibility for labour, Rolston Anglin, opened the debate on the amendment to the bill on Friday afternoon. Once law, the change will allow Caymanian employees and their employers a 12-month holiday from making contributions and a two-year break for non-Caymanians or work permit holders. The aim is to offer people some economic relief and hopefully inject some cash into Cayman’s struggling domestic economy.

Anglin explained to the Legislative Assembly (26 February) that the break would be voluntary and employees with contracts that include pension benefits cannot be forced to take advantage of the break. Employers will have to show their staff have signed an agreement. Given the economic situation and the fact that employees as well as employers are obligated to make the payments, government believed a considerable number of people would still take up the offer.

The minister also emphasised that those employers who are delinquent in their payments must continue to make those contributions and they will not get a holiday from their obligations. The minister said, however, this would give an opportunity to many employers to catch up with their legal obligation to pay into funds.

The latest report from the National Pensions Board 2007/08 revealed that as of mid-June 2009 when the report was being composed, the number of non-compliant employers was far more than the 481 cases revealed by the statistics given to them as pension firms were not up to date on their statistics. Moreover, the sums owed by employers were considerable — in one case an employer owed the fund $600,000 of its workers money.

Anglin said that these employers would still be obligated to continue paying into their employee pensions schemes but the employees would be exempt should they agree.

Explaining the difference between the ex-pat holiday and the Caymanian holiday, Anglin pointed out that in most cases government knows that Caymanian workers will become pensioners in this jurisdiction. Therefore, if the holiday period for local workers became too great, future pensioners may not have enough to draw down from their funds to live on and place a burden on future CI governments. However, in the case of ex-pats, most of them would not become pensioners in the Cayman Islands so government could risk a longer holiday for those workers. He also said key employees and other people on work permits that had applied for PR, etc, would also get access to the two-year break.

He said this would not make foreign workers any more attractive than Caymanians as they would not be cheaper because the difference in cost in the second year for a foreign worker would still be offset by how much employers had to pay for work permits.

The minister said he believed there would be a considerable uptake on the voluntary provision for employees as there had been a lot of support for the idea from the community and pressure from small business for some help. He emphasised the fact that the decision had to be voluntary since, if an employee signed a contract that included pension benefits, then that contract was binding. However, with the consent of the employee, who would also save money, Anglin hoped it would offer relief for both employers and employees and help boost the domestic economy.

“This measure is to try and put people in a position to have more money in their pockets and should result in a general easing of pressure,” the minister stated.  With no direct taxation in the Cayman Islands, Anglin pointed out that government did not have many tools to manipulate the economic pressure on its people in the same way other governments did and this offered a way to give the people a small economic break.

“Given the economic hardship at the moment, people have been asking for some form of relief,” Anglin told the LA. “We don’t have an income tax that we can use to manipulate the economy … we needed to find a mechanism by which we could help and we will see if a change in this law will have the desired effect.”

He also acknowledged that there would be some negative impact on fund growth in the long term, but for those with considerable time to pay into the funds, there would be time to recover.

According to the NPB report of the many difficulties facing the pension system, the funds have also been performing poorly during the economic crisis. This is an issue for many employees who resent paying into funds which are declining. Moreover the NPB has also revealed that there are still some pension providers taking contributions which are unregulated and some that have already encountered severe financial difficulties and in some cases have gone into liquidation.

Having presented the bill to the House, the debate will take place on Monday 1 March before the law is passed by government. Anglin confirmed that once the bill is assented, the pension holiday will take immediate effect for those employers who are up to date with their existing pension contributions for employees and where employees have signed their agreement.

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