Archive for March 11th, 2011

Cruise worker charged with cocaine smuggling

| 11/03/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 41-year-old man from St Vincent has been charged with importation of cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to supply. the man who was arrested earlier this week appeared in court Friday afternoon 11 March. The charges relate to a two kilo cocaine seizure in George Town by the RCIPS drugs task force last weekend. Three cruise ship workers were arrested after a stop and search operation in the waterfront area. Police did not say what has happened to the 27 year old man from St. Vincent and the Jamaican aged 31 who were also arrested, as the cruise ship on which they work haddeparted Saturday evening.

The RCIPS stated that the chief of security on the ship was immediately notified of the arrests and officers had liaised with the cruise line in relation to the enquiry. It is not clear which ship the man had arrived on but there were three ships in port on Saturday — Jewel of the Seas, AIDAluna and Oceana.

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Just change the channel

| 11/03/2011 | 13 Comments

When you see a show on TV you don’t like, you change the channel. Similarly, if you don’t like the proposed projects, such as dredging the North Sound for mega yachts or an oil refinery, you can change the channel as well. Since there are funds out there for such projects, why not steer away from such short-sightedness and build something lasting that is eco-friendly and benefits all of Cayman.

Here are a couple of ideas that cost less than dredging and oil refining but create a huge number of jobs, while at the same time increase our spending power and income. The first project is a solar farm using long parabolic reflectors that track the sun’s rays throughout the day to heat fluids for driving turbines that generate electricity. Florida Power & Light is currently unveiling such a project in South Florida. It won’t replace their nuclear reactor but is will generate a nice percentage of clean low cost electricity. Such a project should be owned and operated by government to avoid the need for being motivated by producing profits. The motivation would be to provide Cayman with the cheapest electricity possible. It would not eliminate our need for CUC but would cut down on our electrical costs substantially. CUC would be allowed to follow suit by building their own solar farm if desired so as to be competitive.

The second idea is to turn the channel from the oil refinery show to the ethanol channel where we grow our own sugar cane to produce ethanol to fuel our vehicles. Brazil has run all of their cars and trucks on ethanol for years. It would cut down or eliminate our dependence on the outside world for our energy needs. Oil field capacities peaked about 5 years ago. As oil wells begin to empty, it becomes harder and more expensive to harvest the oil, thus making it more expensive. An oil refinery would not be of much use in the long run.

By reducing our cost of energy through the above two ideas, we would have more money to spend on other things. And as well, the prices of the things we purchase would be less, which would be like getting a pay raise. Cayman’s cost of living would be lessened, which would make it more attractive to visitors. In other words, it would kick start our economy and produce jobs in abundance as the demand for goods and services increases. These types of ideas are what we should be exploring for lifting us up and carrying us into the future. We will always be dependent on outside sources for our food and other necessities, but our basic energy needs can and should be under our control on our island. Nothing is more basic or more important for the prosperity and economic stability we desire.

Of course, the naysayers will say that government should not be involved in such projects. Let me remind you that government provides the fresh water at a reasonable rate, which by the way would be even less expensive if the electricity used to make fresh water was cheaper. Oil is the enemy and we have the means to free ourselves if we concentrate our efforts this way rather than the short-sighted projects we are fighting now. Now is the time to change the channel, not dredge one.

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Romanian cash card fraudsters get 12 months

| 11/03/2011 | 17 Comments

(CNS): In a case that was turned around it what appears to be record time, two Romanian nationals accused of an elaborate cardscam have been sentenced to one year in prison. Paul Muresan and Vladimir Oprisor were charged with several counts of theft and attempted theft in connection with a cash machine fraud, in which the two men stole bank account information to make withdrawals using local ATM machines to access overseas accounts. The men were arrested on 16 February at the airport as they were trying to leave the Cayman Islands. The two men both pleaded guilty to the charges in Summary Court and were sentenced on 8 March, less than one month after they were first apprehended by the authorities. (Photo courtesy Cayman27)

In the original report the RCIPS Financial Crime Unit said that the men made a number of fraudulent withdrawals from cash machines in the George Town area. The bank involved advised the police that the cards used during the transactions had been seized by the machines. Police said the cards used by the suspected fraudsters were not legitimate bank cards but "poker cards" used in casinos. The metallic strips on the cards had been loaded with potential victims’ account details for overseas accounts.

The fraudsters also used the cards to make purchases at business premises and at the hotel where they stayed while in Cayman.

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Euro parliament threatens banks using tax havens

| 11/03/2011 | 2 Comments

(GFSNews):Bank licenses should be withdrawn from financial institutions operating in offshore tax havens, according to a resolution adopted by the European Parliament. In a vote on Tuesday, MEPs voted in favour of a clampdown on tax havens and transfer price "manipulation" by multinational companies. Parliamentarians agreed with a development committee report that companies should be forced to pay tax in countries in which profits are made, rather than in remote low-tax offshore destinations. The vote, following explosive "Weapons of Mass Distruction” remarks by report author Eva Joly calls for measures to bar companies from "transferring their profits to countries with the most favourable tax regimes".

n a plenary debate, the French MEP claimed that tax havens are "weapons of mass destruction" – reducing fiscal revenues and aiding economic crime – that should be closed down, as she slammed the tax practices of European companies.

"We need to make sure that profits are not manipulated – that transfer pricing is fair. Look at what has been done inter alia by European companies – they are really abusing the system as it currently is," Joly said.

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US approves more airports for Cuba flights

| 11/03/2011 | 0 Comments

(Jamaica Observer): The United States has approved eight more airports for charter flights to and from Cuba, permitting more Cuban Americans to travel to the Spanish-speaking Caribbean country. Obama administration officials said the airports include Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, the world’s busiest, and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The other airports approved include those in Baltimore, Maryland; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Tampa, Florida; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Prior to Wednesday’s decision, flights to Cuba were only allowed from Los Angeles, California; Miami, Florida; and New York.

The expanded flights are in keeping with President Barack Obama’s decision, announced earlier this year, to further reach out to the Cuban people.

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Miller packs in PAC

| 11/03/2011 | 93 Comments

(CNS): The chairman of the Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee has handed in his resignation as a result of the persistent failure of other members of the committee to turn up to scheduled meetings. Ezzard Miller said he can’t do the work of getting government’s accounts in order as he wanted to without the support of all members and when not one of the other members of the committee turned up to this month’s meeting on Tuesday 8 March, Miller said it was the last straw. “I didn’t accept this because of the prestige,” the independent member for North Side said of his chairmanship. “I accepted it to do a job on behalf of the people, and if no one turns up I can’t do that job.” (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

He handed his resignation to the speaker today, (Friday 11 March) to give government time to place the election of another chair on the agenda of the next meeting of the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.

“I am very disappointed and feel I have let the people down but I refuse to be ‘Ozzerized’,” Miller added referring to the last chair of the PAC, Osbourne Bodden, who also struggled with members not turning up to meetings during the previous administration.

The North Side MLA, who was elected chair by all members of the House in June 2009, explained that an email had been sent out by the clerk last week to PAC members, which was a round robin approval of the Auditor General’s Office January bill, but with the exception of the Cayman Brac and Little Cayman member, Moses Kirkconnell, not one of the other members had answered the email. He said that this had happened too frequently over the almost two years since the committee was elected.

Miller added that if the committee did not have confidence in him as chair, which must be the case as the members were simply not showing up despite the dates being set at their convenience, then he had to step down as there was nothing else he could do. The law says there must be at least three members present, including the chair, in order to form a quorum.

“It is one of the most important standing committees in the Legislative Assembly and we all accepted a place on it to do a job,” Miller noted. “I do not believe anyone else in the LA will have the enthusiasm for getting the problem of government accounting sorted as I have. I think most people would agree that I have worked very hard on tackling the backlog of accounts. The only person that seems to have the commitment to getting these accounts up to date is me.”

He pointed out that he had drawn attention to the problem of members not turning up for meetings last year in his first report on the work of the committee and suggested government change the membership after two of them, Elio Solomon and Cline Glidden, had been appointed as councillors, but his report had fallen on deaf ears.

With government accounts still behind and facing further delays, Miller wondered if it wasn’t in government’s interest to continue to allow the delays as it would mean they could avoid accountability for public spending during their term. He added that although many statutory authorities were catching up, most of the ministries were still woefully behind.

Miller said the auditor general had informed him that as of 28 February, the last deadline set by the committee, four of the ministries andportfolios had not submitted their accounts for 2009/10 to the AG and, ironically, the Ministry of Finance had not even finished 2006.

Miller also revealed that the Attorney General’s Office had advised him that he did not have the authority as PAC chair to bring any legal action against chief officers or chief financial officers in the ministries for their failure to comply with the Public Management and Finance Law. The AG, Miller stated, had revealed that the responsibility for compliance with the PMFL was with the premier in his role as Minister of Finance. 

For more on PAC and the list of members go to the Legislative Assembly website.

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Tsunami alert across South America

| 11/03/2011 | 0 Comments

(Bloomberg): Chile, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador put communities and ports on their Pacific coasts on tsunami alerts after Japan was hit by its strongest earthquake in at least a century. Coastal areas of Easter Island will be evacuated today, Chile’s state television station TVN reported. Colombia’s biggest port, Buenaventura, is on alert after the 8.9-magnitude quake in Japan triggered a warning from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, Luz Amanda Pulido, head of the country’s disaster prevention agency, told radio station RCN. Peru and Ecuador’s Pacific coast are also on alert, authorities in both countries said.

Waves generated by the 8.9-magnitude quake may reach Easter Island, located 3,500 kilometers (2,100 miles) off the Chilean coast, about 6 p.m. New York time and the mainland about 9:30 p.m., Chile’s emergency reaction authority Onemi said on its website. Waves may reach Peru’s coast about 7:30 p.m. New York time, newspaper El Comercio reported, citing the local Navy.

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