Archive for April 23rd, 2010

Teenage girl missing

| 23/04/2010 | 6 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline News(CNS): Shandi Sandoval has been missing from the Frances Bodden Girls Home since Monday 19 April 2010, police said Friday evening, and urged anyone who thinks they have seen or know the whereabouts of the 15-year-old girl to contact a local police station or Sergeant Doris Morris-Herrera at the Family Support Unit on 946-9185. Shandi is 5-feet, 3-inches high and slim build, weighing about 125 lbs. She has clear brown complexion and shoulder length curly black hair. She was last seen wearing a bright blue and white stripe marina, jeans and purple and black sneakers.


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Giving Head, Chasing Tail

| 23/04/2010 | 9 Comments

The SEC’s civil suit brought against the good (and God-fearing) folk over at Goldman Sachs is a hugely entertaining story of intrigue, greed and good old-fashioned cockiness. The Fabulous Fab Tourre, Master of his Universe at Goldman Sachs and self-confessed naïvette as to the consequence of his esoteric trades, has brought his bosses to sharp attention.

The very ethos of this venerable firm of bankers and market-makers (we do God’s Work) is under close scrutiny. Not that allowing experienced investors to gamble on the outcome of certain trades is in itself a moral problem — both Paulson and IKB knew the rules of the game, and were purported to be experienced players — but that there were certain disclosures not made, and information not disseminated. IKB was led to believe that John Paulson was net long in the investment and had serious skin in. Fab, along with several others (notably Alec Litowitz of the infamous but wildly successful short-specialist fund Magnetar) had realised that the steam in the residential prime and sub-prime mortgage business was rapidly losing its head and were using the synthetic CDO markets offered by Goldman Sachs to bet his hunch accordingly against the long positions held by the mainstream mortgage bulls. No problem here, either — in each trade, there is a winner and a loser, it being a zero sum game. Score? Paulson 1 ($bn), IKB -1($bn). Tough.

Both Iton and Travers miscall this situation. The Cayman Islands’ significance in all of this is slight, thata lot of hot air and wasted energy is being generated over this spat. Both talk up the importance of ‘complicated’ financial engineering carried out in the Cayman Islands — Iton calling it a cheap misuse of the good reputation of the Cayman Islands for a pittance in direct fees earned, and Travers maintaining the erroneous position that the Cayman Islands is a vital cog in the process of complicated financial engineering processes. Both have little to worry about — after all, Fabulous Fab spent less that 0.5 seconds thinking about where the SPV would be domiciled and how it would be structured. This was after all, the second last concern on his mind. Far more important was locking his sales teams into constructing the trades, buying ACB into the deal as portfolio advisors, getting Goldman Sachs’ counterparty structure bedded down for the trade and naturally, throwing those wild parties in his Manhattan apartment. Important stuff, all of it. Whether Cayman was the domicile of choice for the SPV ABACUS 2007-AC1 or not, was of no concern whatsoever. Neither ACB, Paulson, IKB nor Goldman Sachs for that matter, gave a rat’s ass about where or how the SPV was constructed. Who cares?

The Cayman Islands provides the room, the bed, the sheets, the laundry and the janitorial service, that’s all. The room is convenient, there are no cameras and the staff are discreet. What those four consenting adults got up to in that room, in that bed and between those sheets, is entirely their own concern, not ours. Next consenting group, please…

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NGO focuses on Sexual Assault Awareness Month

| 23/04/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation is recognising April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), with a series of promotional activities such as discussions in the media and print materials designed to reinforce the campaign theme: Believe, Talk, Act. The SAAM campaign follows the foundation’s recent ‘5-Steps’ media campaign, a public awareness effort to encourage us all to take simple steps to be the change we want to see in the world. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is supported by organisations all over the world.

Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation Director, SaraCollins, said, “Estella Scott-Roberts was a committed advocate of raising awareness about sexual assault in our community. As Director of the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, she was instrumental in organising the first observance of SAAM in the Cayman Islands in 2005. The theme of Believe, Talk, Act, very much reflects Estella’s own positive and proactive approach to bringing about change.”

The SAAM campaign focuses on myths and facts about sexual assault. Popular myths include the belief that only women can be victims of sexual assault and that most assailants are strangers. Ms. Collins says, ”It is important to raise awareness within the community about sexual assault so we can learn to protect ourselves and our children from it and those who have been victims know the appropriate steps to take. Sadly it is more prevalent than many people would believe.” She adds, “Many people are not aware of what actually constitutes sexual assault. It is a myth that it is not sexual assault if the assailant and the victim are a couple or if the victim did not attempt to escape the situation.”

There are a number of public and private sector organisations in the Cayman Islands, which offer services to sexual assault victims as well as their partners, friends and family members. These organisations include the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, RCIPS’ Family Support Unit, Department of Counselling Services’ Family Resource Centre, and The Wellness Centre. The Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation encourages anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault to seek out support from one of these agencies or a trusted family member or friend.

More information about the Sexual Assault Awareness Month can be found on the foundation’s website, at

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Pensions holiday starts Monday

| 23/04/2010 | 24 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island business news(CNS): Private sector employers, employees, and self-employed individuals now have the option of not paying into their pension fund for a temporary period starting Monday, when amendments to the National Pensions Law take effect. The hiatus for payments must be agreed in writing by both employer and employee and all payments must be up to date for them to participate. The amendments allow a temporary one-year suspension of pension contributionsfor Caymanians and a temporary two-year suspension period for non-Caymanians.

In a government release Minister with responsibility for pensions, Rolston Anglin explained, “In the current economic climate, pension contributions place a considerable financial burden on employers, employees and self-employed persons. With some businesses facing closure, this relief might enable them to survive these tough economic times.”

To participate in the suspension Minister Anglin explained that businesses must be in compliance with the National Pensions Law. “Any employer participating in the suspension term must be up-to-date with their contributions or have made arrangements for the payment of any arrears before participation can begin,” he said. “This is to avoid compounding any existing non-compliance with theNational Pensions Law.”

Acting Superintendent of Pensions Amy Wolliston noted that while participation is voluntary it is not automatic. “Persons who wish to continue making contributions throughout the one- or two-year term may continue to do so,” she said, “But employers and employees must apply to participate.”

She explained that both parties must first agree to the suspension, then sign a written agreement that replaces employment-contract pension obligations. Once those steps are completed a formal application must be made to the pension plan adminstrator, which must approve the suspension before companies can cease making contributions.

Another participatory condition, she noted, is that pension plan membership must be maintained. That is, all employers and employees – regardless of when they are employed – must be members of a registered pension plan. In fact, businesses established during the pension holiday period are also obligated to establish a pension plan and ensure that their employees are members.

Similarly, opportunities to suspend pension payments are extended to self-employed persons. However the same conditions apply. Self-employed individuals must formally apply to their pension plan administrator before suspending payments, and must maintain their membership within a pension plan.

For more information, refer to the National Pensions Law (2010 Revision). A copy is available on the Cayman Islands Government web portal Look for it under the features section.

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CAL & HSA still delinquent

| 23/04/2010 | 18 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island headline News, Cayman government finances(CNS): In his recent updated report examining the dire state of financial accountability in government the auditor general reveals that the national flag carrier, which receives more than $10.5 million from government each year in subsidy, and the HSA, which receives a direct $40milllion subsidy, are still the most delinquent in their accounting. Dan Duguay stated that Cayman Airways is in a worse position today than when he published the 2008 version of the report as its 2004/05 accounts have not been finalized or audited. And although the HSA has made strides with its more recent statements the authority cannot submit any accounts for 03/04 or 04/05.

“The management of the HSA decided that they could not prepare financial statements for 2003/04 and 04/05 because of the deficient accounting records,” Duguay stated in his report, The State of Financial Accountability Reporting 2010. “While we cannot condone the practice of HSA not preparing critical financial accountability reports, we believe that the dire state of accounting records during these years necessitated this extraordinary action.”
Duguay said the Legislative Assembly had been informed of the departure from the Health Services Authority Law as well as the Public and Management Finance Law. Moreover, the HSA has made some strides, and while it has never completed an annual report it has completed its financial statements for the financial years 05/06 and 06/07 and has started work on 07/08 but is yet to start 08/09.
No reasons were cited as to why Cayman Airways, which had not completed its 2003/04 annual accounts when Duguay made his last assessment in July 2008, had still not completed that year’s annual report. The AG said that, as far as his office could tell, the airline has never submitted an annual report to the LA. This means that the Cayman public has not been able to scrutinize how the airline, which it owns,  uses the more than $10 milllion it receives each year from the public purse or why it runs at such a significant loss. The airline has submitted financial statements for 03/04 and 04/05 but no reports.
Despite the appalling delinquency of some statutory authorities and government entities, Duguay did highlight some improvements in his report. He said that the National Housing Development Trust, which was three years behind, and the Electricity Regulatory Authority, which was two years behind in 2008, were now both current. The Public Service Pension Board had also moved from three years behind to only one.   
Duguay said, however, that the improvement was no where near as much as he had hoped when he made the 2008 report. Speaking to the press earlier this week when the report became a public document, Duguay said that, given the seriousness of the situation when he first made his report in 2008, he had genuinely expected a serious effort would be made to improve, but instead some authorities, such as UCCI, have fallen further behind or, as in the case of the Turtle Farm, another entity receiving significant public funding, have only manage to complete two sets of delinquent financial statements, so have essentially stood still.
There were only three entities Duguay said that were up to date. The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority has completed all of its annual reports up to and including the 2008/09 financial year. CINICOand the Water Authority are also up to date and have only to submit their annual reports for 2008/09 to the Legislative Assembly in order to make them public documents.
Of the various portfolios and government ministries, all except the Education Ministry, which has a budget of more than $75 million, had completed annual reports for 2004/05. Duguay noted that the Ministry of Education remains the only ministry or portfolio in core government not to have tabled its 2004/05 annual report in the Legislative Assembly.
A number of the smaller independent government offices, such as the Office of the Complaints Commissioner, Judicial Administration, and Legal Affairs have tabled reports up to 2006/07. However, there is only one core government department which is compliant with the PMFL in having completed its annual reports, and that is the Office of the Auditor General.
While a number of the government departments have over the last few years criticised Duguay for pointing out their delinquency as they say they have completed financial statements, the issue is that until a government department, authority or company completes its annual report the public cannot access the information.
 And while Cabinet may be informed of the details of public spending across the various entities of government, the people of the Cayman Islands cannot scrutinize the spending of government without annual reports being tabled in parliament.
These audited reports contain the ‘hows and whys’ of government financial management of the money it gets from the public purse. Annual reports also contain the auditor’s reports, in which his office states if the books balance and if not what the problems are through qualified statements. Duguay notes in his report that there are more than 73 sets of financial statements that have not been moved to the annual report stage.
“This means that the financial reports and the audit opinions prepared by my office cannot be made public,” Duguay said. “This lack of transparency and public scrutiny is an effective avoidance of accountability by government officials.”
Of those financial statements that have been completed, Duguay says he has offered a number of qualified and in some cases adverse opinions, which means that there are questions about the quality of the information. “In other words the financial statements lack the credibility required to be relied upon by a reader of those financial statements,” he added. However, Duguay and his team are not able to reveal those concerns and questions until they become public documents via an annual report being given to the LA.

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Ming’s case formally shut

| 23/04/2010 | 5 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline News(CNS): The death certificate of Damion Ming was formally handed to the Grand Court this morning and the outstanding legal proceedings against him closed. Ming was shot and killed on Thursday, 25 March, on the eve of his return to prison following the failure of his appeal regarding a drug offence. Literally days before Ming was murdered in his home in West Bay in what police believe is a gang related killing his appeal had been denied. Although 2 men had been arrested in connection to the shooting, CNS understands they have both since been released and no charges have yet been brought in Ming’s killing. The killing was particularly ironic as he was due to be returned to jail the next morning.

Ming was on bail at the time he was killed pending his privy council appeal, but once the result was conveyed from London the bail was revoked and Ming had been ordered to appear in court at 10:00 am on Friday, 26 March, some 12 hours after his murder.

Justice Howard Cook on the morning in question said he could not close the Ming case until a death certificate had been produced. Consequently, it was left to Justice Charles Quin to close the file against Ming for possession and intent to supply cocaine.

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C&W to get costs from Digicel after failed claim

| 23/04/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Cable & Wireless Communications said today in a statement that it has now been awarded its costs for defending the claims by its Caribbean competitor, Digicel, in the UK High Court. Last week the court dismissed the claims by Digicel that Cable & Wireless Communications had unlawfully delayed its entry as a competitor in Caribbean telecoms markets. The court has now ordered Digicel to pay Cable & Wireless Communications and defendant parties’ costs, the telecoms firm said Friday morning.

“The defendants expect to recover the substantial majority of their costs – which ran to at least £15.5 million (US$24 million). Cable & Wireless Communications’ costs recovery will be accounted for as an exceptional gain in its 2010/11 accounts. The case was heard over 77 sitting days in the High Court in London, UK, and heard evidence from 43 witnesses,” Cable & Wireless stated.
Digicel issued its proceedings in July 2007, the day before the Cable and Wireless plc AGM, and at the time announced its claim amounted to “several hundreds of millions of pounds” of damages.
In his costs judgement, Mr Justice Morgan, made a number of comments criticising Digicel’s conduct of its case. The judge said Digicel’s serving of the claim and press announcement were intentionally timed “so that those matters would be potentially damaging to Cable & Wireless plc” and the damages figure quoted in Digicel’s original press statement was “grossly exaggerated”.
C&W also said the judge stated that Digicel had “massively over claimed”, had “put forward an excessive number of allegations of unlawful acts” in its claim and that its claim that Cable & Wireless plc had acted in a conspiracy was “always improbable".
The case involved claims that the Cable & Wireless Communications Group had breached the telecoms statutes in six Caribbean territories (Barbados, Cayman, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Grenada and the Turk & Caicos Islands) which Digicel was entering as a competitor to Cable & Wireless Communications between 2002-06. Similar allegations were also made against TSTT, the Trinidad & Tobago-based telecom operator, in which Cable & Wireless Communications holds a minority stake.
The High Court ruled Cable & Wireless Communications was entitled to costs in six out of the seven jurisdictions on an enhanced “indemnity basis”. The seventh jurisdiction is Trinidad & Tobago, where the court ruled Digicel to pay 87.5% of its recoverable costs. The Court further ordered Digicel to pay the defendants £8 million (US$12 million) of the costs within 28 days on account of its ultimate liability for costs.

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British tourists request no black waiters at US hotel

| 23/04/2010 | 2 Comments

(Times-online): A family of British holidaymakers were accused yesterday of telling the management of a five-star Florida hotel that they did not want to be waited on by black staff. Court papers say that the family, whose principal member was named as Rodney Morgan, left the instruction when they checked into the beachside Ritz-Carlton in the city of Naples on February 28. The family, whose other members are not identified, allegedly informed the hotel of their preference not to be served by “people of colour” or staff with “foreign accents”. A note of their demand was allegedly made on behalf of Edward Staros, the hotel’s vice-president and managing director.

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Demise of plastic bag draws near as campaign takes off

| 23/04/2010 | 31 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island science & nature news(CNS): Since the local environmental organization Cayman BECOME launched its campaign to make the plastic bag a thing of the past the Green Team Network has been getting out and about to ensure its demise will come sooner rather than later. With Cayman shoppers using some 12 million plastic bags annually and no official ban on plastic bags in place, the team is doing its best to persuade shoppers to use alternative means of carrying their shopping, such as re-usable shopping bags, helped by the supermarkets’ promise to introduce a fee for bags by June.

“The amount of solid waste we generate and the lack of recycling options are among the network’s biggest environmental concerns. To tackle this problem, the decision was taken to target the excessive use of plastic bags,” explained Alee Fa’amoe, Chief Operating Officer at Deloitte Cayman, who helped set up the network with the Department of Environment.
The DoE and the Green Team Network are promoting reusable shopping bags at supermarkets. Foster’s Food Fair, Hurley’s and Kirk Supermarket have also agreed to discourage the use of plastic bags by charging a five cent fee per single-use plastic bag – an initiative that will start this June
“A similar fee introduced in January in Washington DC has already reduced monthly plastic bag use from an average of 22.5 million to 3 million. We hope to see similar results in Cayman,” said DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie.
Minister for Environment Mark Scotland was present as the local activists launched the campaign in stores.
 “Most people don’t think twice about the plastic bags that hold their groceries, but the fact is, they add significantly to our already overflowing landfill,” said the minister.  “Charging for plastic bags is a strategy that is successfully used elsewhere. What is more, the plastic bag charge will be used for local environmental initiatives and finding more environmentally-responsible options to other supermarket packaging.”
So far Cayman has no legislation in place to protect its environment, and with no government recycling programmes to reduce waste it is down to people power to encourage the community to think about their environment and the damage the waste we generate can cause.
In other countries legislative efforts have had a great impact. In Uganda and Bangladesh all plastic bags have simply been banned. Taiwan, Kenya and South Africa have introduced charges on the use of plastic bags. China announced a nationwide ban on stores distributing free plastic bags from 1 June 2008. Thereafter, supermarkets were required to charge for plastic bags. Ireland now levies a 15 cent per bag charge, which reduced plastic bag usage by up to 95 percent. In America, San Francisco became the first city to ban plastic bags from large supermarkets and pharmacies. Several UK urban centres banned plastic shopping bags,but the ban is not yet nationwide.
Plastic bags cause the deaths of over 100,000 sea turtles and other marine animals every year; animals can mistake them for food. The manufacture of plastic bags adds tons of carbon emissions into the air annually. Approximately 60-100 million barrels of oil are needed to make the world’s plastic bags each year. Most plastic bags take over 400 years to biodegrade. Some figures suggest that plastic bags may take over 1000 years to break down.

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Hedge fund showdown in Europe

| 23/04/2010 | 0 Comments

(Reuters): London and Paris face a showdown over new rules for hedge funds within weeks of British elections, with both sides refusing to budge on a controversial law to control the secretive industry, diplomats said. Spanish Economy Minister Elena Salgado is preparing to ask European finance ministers at a gathering next month to give the green light to new curbs on hedge funds and private equity, one diplomat said. The move is set to escalate a long-running Anglo-Frenchspat over the treatment of foreign funds under the new regime.

It will also fuel tensions between Brussels and Washington, which fears the rules will stop U.S. funds operating in Europe. Privately, Paris has threatened to use EU voting rules to push through the law over the objections of Britain.

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