Archive for March 1st, 2011

Chicken used to smuggle ganja into prison

| 01/03/2011 | 41 Comments

(CNS): Prison officials continue to battle against attempts to smuggle illegal contraband into the prison. In the most recent incident the chief officer at the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs revealed that smugglers had thrown a dead chicken over the prison perimeter fence, stuffed with ganja. Franz Manderson told Cayman 27 that it was a constant battle to keep cell phones, SIM cards, alcohol, drugs and other prohibited items outside the prison when people are willing to go to any lengths to get them in. One of the biggest challenges faced by guards at Northward is the private road that runs right next to the prison walls which offers smugglers direct access. (Photo courtesy of Cayman 27

Manderson said this is not typical of most prisons and it remains one of the easiest ways for people to get banned items into HMP Northward. However, with changes to the legislation and the introduction of closed circuit television cameras (CCTV), the prison is improving its monitoring and enforcement. “Previously, if someone was found bringing a cell phone into prison, they were basically dealt with by suspending their prison rights and whatever action was being taken against the prisoner,” Manderson said, adding that he hopes the new law will act as a deterrent to smugglers as they themselves will now face a potential prison sentence.

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US in global offshore tax evasion hunt

| 01/03/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The IRS clampdown on Swiss bank UBS could be the tip of the iceberg in its fight against tax evasion and financial institutions in other offshore jurisdictions might be targeted for similar treatment, says Jonathan Sambur, a former IRS attorney who now specializes in Tax Transactions in the Washington, DC office of Mayer Brown law firm. He warns new rules, initiatives and legislation, such as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, present major challenges for non-U.S. financial institutions that do business with U. S. account-holders. These institutions he notes have to take heed of the enforcement activity and consider whether they could be a target of future enforcement efforts.

It’s all part of the push for "full tax transparency", said Sambur who will be discussing the issue at next month’s OffshoreAlert conference. "Recent public statements by U.S. regulators indicate that U.S. tax avoidance and evasion is not limited to Switzerland. This is a worldwide issue and we can expect to see financial institutions located in other jurisdictions be subject to U.S. scrutiny and potential enforcement activity."

The United States has begun to implement new legislation that demands transparency from non-U.S. financial institutions. “Beginning in 2013, non-U.S. financial institutions that invest in U.S. securities will be required to provide information about U.S. account holders directly to the IRS outside of established tax treaty protocols or face substantial penalties,” Sambur told the online offshore watchdog OffshoreAlert.

"The push for full tax transparency relating to U.S. account holders has been coupled with a newly-redesigned voluntary disclosure program designed to bring noncompliant taxpayers into compliance and gather additional information to identify non-U.S. financial institutions that provide services to noncompliant U.S. taxpayers.”

The IRS has also recently reissued a controversial proposal that would provide certain U.S. bank account information to non-U.S. jurisdictions and Sambur said, “it remains to be seen whether this proposal could be implemented in light of the risk of capital flight from U.S. banks or whether this was intended to mute criticism of IRS proposals to compel non-U.S. financial institutions to provide similar data to the IRS."

All of which represents a potential legal and bureaucratic nightmare for financial institutions in offshore jurisdictions and their U.S. clients, says Sambur.

"Non-U.S. financial institutions that provide banking and investment services to U.S. clients must take heed of recent U.S. enforcement activity, assess the strength of their controls for complying with applicable U.S. law, and consider whether they could be a target of future enforcement efforts.
"U.S. clients that engage in unreported banking and investment activities with or through non-U.S. financial institutions should be aware that the IRS is actively looking for them and few places remain where they might remain hidden from U.S. tax authorities."

Sambur and his colleague, Jerome Roche, will explain the problems – and solutions – facing offshore financial institutions and U.S. taxpayers during a session entitled ‘US Tax and Securities Law Issues Associated with Serving US clients’, at the 9th Annual OffshoreAlert Conference.
 

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PPM: Bush sounds desperate

| 01/03/2011 | 71 Comments

(CNS): The country’s premier is grasping at straws and undermining the credibility of the jurisdiction with the constantly changing announcements over development projects, the leader of the opposition said this week. Following McKeeva Bush’s recent switch of focus from the East End Seaport to the development of an oil refinery and the dredging of the North Sound for a channel, Alden McLaughlin said the premier was sounding desperate. He said the opposition was very concerned about the announcements regarding the channel and the party was opposed to dredging the North Sound as there are real fears about the loss of the Sand Bar. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

“I understand, given the economic hardship that we are facing, the premier feels the need to get a tangible project off the ground to create some stimulus for the economy. I can even sympathizewith that, but these grand announcements from month to month are undermining the credibility of the jurisdiction,” he stated.

McLaughlin added that the premier’s comments that one project after another was due to start before the end of the year were unrealistic as, he added, it takes months and months to get major projects of this scale off the ground and to suggest he can go from an MOU to construction in under nine months on these type of public/ private partnerships was not only implausible but some of the ideas were downright dangerous.

“There is a danger of the government jumping into a major project in the near future as a desperate measure, which could have very serious long term irreversible implications for the country,” McLaughlin warned. He said the issue of dredging was of particular concerned and that at the very least there would have to be an independent environmental impact assessment undertaken because one controlled by government when a policy decision has already been made would be likely to reflect that position.

The new opposition leader added that he was not fundamentally opposed to dredging for its own sake as he said there have been times when it has proved to be successful but, he said, the idea of a channel in the North Sound has always been considered as a very risky proposition.

The premier has recently stated that he intends to dredge the North Sound to create a channel that will allow mega yachts to pass through to a new marina development as it has now become necessary. The project is believed to have been proposed by a group of Chinese investors and will included the creation of two islands, which sources state will be a mile in diameter.

McLaughlin said that the opposition party was not just opposed to this or other projects for the sake of it as, he noted, the PPM supported the development of cruise berthing in George Town and also believed the special economic zone and the proposed science and technology park was a very positive proposal which the opposition would support. He also said the PPM was not opposed to Dr Devi Shetty’s proposed hospital, and although in terms of sheer magnitude there were some reservations, he would like to see the development of medical tourism, but said he still had no idea if it was likely to come to fruition.

Despite offering support in principle to projects that he said could benefit all Caymanians, he said the party remained opposed to the East End Seaport, which along with idea of an oil refinery just did not sit alongside the concept of a pristine tourism product. He also said the announcements regarding the oil refinery were fantastical, and despite claims of it being a state of the art facility by those who have proposed the project to government, McLaughlin said he would still have to be convinced that such a proposal could work in the Cayman Islands.

“The premier is grasping at straws in order to inject some confidence into the economy, which is understandable, but the constant announcements with no action will not help in the goal of attracting investors,” McLaughlin warned.

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Is it a good idea to build an oil refinery on Grand Cayman?

Are you in favour of dredging a channel in the North Sound to accommodate mega yachts?
 

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Libyans have $62billion in foreign banks

| 01/03/2011 | 0 Comments

(Bloomberg): Libyan residents had $62.1 billion deposited in overseas bank accounts at the end of September, according to the Bank for International Settlements. Most deposits were from banks in Libya, including branches of foreign institutions, while $8.2 billion was from non-bank Libyan residents, according to quarterly banking statistics compiled by the BIS and last released on Jan. 28. The BIS statistics are based on reports from 43 countries, including most developed nations and offshore centers such as the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands Antilles and the British Channel Islands. The figures don’t cover direct investments by Libyans in assets overseas.

The European Union yesterday imposed an arms embargo and other sanctions including an asset freeze, and the U.S. said it has frozen $30 billion in Libyan assets. Switzerland on Feb. 24 froze the assets of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and his entourage for three years to avoid the possible “misappropriation” of the funds.

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Men getting more depressed warn experts

| 01/03/2011 | 0 Comments

(BBC): Psychiatrists have warned that the number of men with depression could rise because of changes in Western society. An article in the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests economic and social changes will erode traditional sources of male self-esteem. The authors say men will struggle with the shift away from traditional male and female roles. The Men’s Health Forum said male identity was bound up in employment. One of the authors, Dr Boadie Dunlop from Emory University School of Medicine, said: "Women are almost twice as likely to develop major depressive disorder in their lifetime as men, but we believe this difference may well change in the coming decades."

He argues that traditional male jobs such as manufacturing or physical labour are being lost, either through improved technology or jobs moving to other countries.

On the other hand the article states that as women are now more likely to go to university than men so the number of households where the main breadwinner is female will increase. "Men’s failure to fulfil the role of breadwinner is associated with greater depression and martial conflict," the article states.

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Opposition votes down death penalty in Trinidad

| 01/03/2011 | 0 Comments

(Newsday): Trinidad’s opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley rejected changes to the Constitution proposed by the government to enforce hangings but promised to meet Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to draft a better bill. Yesterday in the Lower House, the Opposition stuck to their guns to deny a requisite three-fourths special majority to the Constitution (Amendment) (Capital Offences) Bill 2011. “The Bill has failed. They can reflect on their position and in six months time, they can bring it back,” said Rowley. Complaining of insults from Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, at the committee stage, Rowley rejected Persad-Bissessar’s offer to suspend the sitting to talk.

“The Government’s attitude and behaviour is not what is required in a situation like this,” said Rowley. “If the Government needs Opposition support on a matter like this, you don’t disregard our point of view and then try to bully us into voting.”

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CID bank loans up by 35%

| 01/03/2011 | 21 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Development Bank increased its lending during 2010 by some 35%, the premier revealed recently. The increase is due to a demand for affordable loans and assistance given to Caymanians experiencing serious difficulties with both personal and business finances. In the special financial stimulus programme backed by government the bank loaned just over $4.2 million to 56 customers to help avoid mortgage foreclosures, catch up on arrears, consolidate other debts and for small business financing. The premier said the gravity of debt issues facing residents was apparent from the take up of debt counselling services offered by the bank.

As of 31 January, the CIDB had a loan portfolio of over $40.7 million compared to just over $30 milllion at the financial year end of 30 June 2009, representing a 35% increase, McKeeva Bush told his colleagues in the Legislative Assembly last week. The bank, he said, was continuing to try and raise more financing at affordable rates in order to assist more people and had also restructured its own debt, reducing the interest the bank pays by $800,000 per year.

“Since the stimulus program the bank continues to increase its reach to families, small businesses and students,” Bush told the House. “This increase has been made possible through additional borrowings which were supported by the government. This included two bonds of US $5milllion each.”

The bank gave out seven loans totalling $1.4 million to prevent  foreclosures on people’s homes, nearly $2 million was loaned out for for 29 different debt consolidations, six loans were given for arrears regularisation and 14 small business loans were given, totalling $824,143.

The bank, he added, is actively reviewing all existing loan files to examine ways to reduce the loan delinquencies and to devise restructuring solutions to assist customers where possible. Bush said the bank had been instrumental in assisting those in need during the past 18 months.

“The CIDB has undertaken a rigorous process of reviewing its existing loan portfolio with a view to strengthening its financial position as well as to provide assistance to its clients wherever restructuring of their loans is possible,” he stated. “All of this has been achieved while lowering its cost of funding through refinancing to take advantage of market conditions and maintain low operating costs.”

He congratulated Paul Byles, the bank board’s chairman, for what he said was his “very hard work” in stabilising and strengthening the bank.

The CIDB is a statutory authority owned by the government. It was established in 2002 to raise and provide financing for the economic development of the country. Its role is to supplement the activities of the local commercial banks by lending to small businesses, the housing sector and human resource development.

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K9 meets 5k in dog jog

| 01/03/2011 | 0 Comments

(CARE): As the saying goes – Every dog has his day – and for many of Cayman’s dogs, that day was Sunday, 13 February.The occasion was the presentation of the 2011 K9/5K FUN RUN/DOG JOG, organized by Cayman Animal Rescue Enthusiasts (CARE), in association with St.Mathew’s University School of Veterinary Medicine and the SMU Chapter of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition. There were dogs everywhere, many breeds and sizes,some spirited, some lackadaisical, but all were under control. Excitement was in the air prior to the start, with some owners and handlers more flustered than their charges.

40 canine starters joined approximately 140 two-legged participants in a five-kilometer frolic…. and the results proved as intriguing as the activity itself. Derek Larner took first-place honours in a time of 19:04, a mere second ahead of running partner David Shibli. Third-place also went to David Shibli – David Shibli Jr,that is. Junior trailed Dear Old Dad by a substantial margin,as he clocked 20:46. Marco Miranda’s 22:15 mark was good for sixth spot, and Brad Marquardt garnered the final men’s performance award one position back in 22:35.

An extraordinary effort was turned in by race favorite Wiggles, who led Shaun Green to a fast-paced 21:31 performance and the fourth overall posting.

Emily Davies crossed the line fifth overall to lead the lady finishers. Her time was 21:36. Other performance award winners in this category were Emma Byrnes (9th-22:46), Saskia Lawrence (14th-25:00), Sarah Bourke (17th-25:27) and Maria Leonce (20th-26:48).

Claire Hughes, accompanied by Koda, also turned in an outstanding placement in finishing eighteenth in 25:52, to end the contest as fastest lady with a dog attached.

Quickest SMU student was Tom Walsh, sixteenth overall with a 25:17 effort, with Tiffany Gisel claiming that honour in the ladies division(28th-31:59).

All participants were eligible for random prizes and a large number were awarded to lucky recipients. Everyone present enjoyed post-event refreshments.

Lesley Agostinelli of CARE was enthusiastic in her remarks about the event, proceeds of which will be used to continue the spay and neuter programmes of the organization. She thanked BRITCAY, sponsors of the unique shirts, CAYMAN ANIMAL HOSPITAL for the fantastic prizes and other contributors to hydration and various other requirements. Additionally, she expressed her gratitude to the many volunteers and officials, and to all participants-residents and visitors – and spectators.

 

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Family seek help for reward fund for missing mother

| 01/03/2011 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Anna Evans has now been missing for more than one month and her family is trying to establish a reward fund in order to encourage people in the community tocome forward with information regarding her disappearance. Anna was last seen around lunchtime on Thursday 27 January at the George Town landfill, where she worked. Since then, despite an extensive police search with the assistance of an international canine unit and the wider community, there has been no trace of Anna. No arrests have been made and no information about who is responsible for her disappearance has come to light.

The family and friends of the mother of five will be hosting a fund raising event on Saturday morning at the public beach on West Bay Road and are asking people to make a $5 donation to the reward fund. A spokesperson for the family said that Anna was a “great, loving mother who has been taken from her 5 children, mother and siblings, who are heartbroken.”

“We are inviting Grand Cayman to come join hands together at the Public Beach and make a small donation of $5.00 towards this worthy cause. To date there has been no arrests or information of those responsible for her disappearance,” they added.

Reward donations can be made at CNB #01210099
 

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Former resident writes song of lament for Cayman

| 01/03/2011 | 13 Comments

(CNS): Canadian Reggae musicianand poet, Daniel Doucet, who grew up in the Cayman Islands, has written a song lamenting the loss of natural resources here. Doucet said he wrote “Where are the mangroves?” in reaction to what he sees happening in his childhood home. Disappointed with the rise in crime and what he says is the out of control development, Doucet is hoping his song may get people to stop and think about the precious resources which are being lost forever. He says that people have to realize how important mangroves are to the local eco-system and the protection they offer to the islands’ coastline.“

Overbuilding, dredging and digging canals, killing mangroves, oil refineries, I can’t believe any of this,” Doucet said, hoping that something can be done to turn things around.

Go to Doucet’s song
 

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