Archive for March, 2011

66 billion $ fund managers still not registered

| 31/03/2011 | 0 Comments

(WSJ): Nearly a third of hedge funds managing $1 billion or more have yet to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission despite a summer deadline, according to an SEC database. Out of the 220 hedge fund managers that made it to AR Magazine’s list of billion-dollar shops, 66 weren’t registered, accounting for about $350 billion of the $1.3 trillion in assets under management by those large hedge funds. The firms that have yet to be registered include well-established names: Billionaire George Soros’ $27.9 billion Soros Fund Management; Brian Higgins and Francis Biondi’s $20 billion King Street Capital Management; Steve Cohen’s.

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US tax office hunts down wealthy tax evaders

| 31/03/2011 | 0 Comments

(Daily Mail): The IRS has dramatically increased the number of wealthy individuals being audited in a clampdown on tax evasion amongst the rich. Investigators inspected the books for 18 per cent of those earning more than $10million in 2010, a near doubling of the 10 per cent investigated the year before. Nearly one in five of the elite now must hand over their accounts for agents to trawl through for evidence of cheating the system. The clampdown is the first fruit of the Global High Wealth Industry unit set up in 2009 to investigate the complex finances of the nation’s wealthiest. Tax evasion has become a major problem in the US in recent years, with the rich paying accountants and lawyers to move their money around to ensure they pay as little tax as possible.

Last week itemerged that General Electric, the largest corporation in the U.S., paid no tax at all last year – and even got a $3.2billion ‘rebate’ from the government.

George Clarke, an attorney at Miller & Chevalier Chartered in Washington said: “The government has an obligation and a duty to make people believe that everybody is paying their fair share. And particularly with respect to the wealthy, there’s a view that they’re able to get out of their obligations.”

The IRS figures show the audit rates for all income groups went up with the second highest rise amongst those who earned between $5million and $10million, who saw a 55 per cent increase to 11 per cent of all those who filed.


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Lagarde says Ireland needs to lose low tax status

| 31/03/2011 | 0 Comments

(Reuters): France’s finance minister has renewed pressure on Ireland to give up its coveted low corporate tax rate after euro zone countries came to its rescue last year with an 85 billion euro bailout. European Union leaders are meeting on Thursday and Friday to try to narrow differences on long-term solutions to the euro zone debt crisis. As part of the talks, Dublin has called for better terms on its bailout loans. France and Germany insist Ireland must first boost its corporate tax rate – the lowest in the region — to bring it in line with the rest of the euro zone. In an interview with Reuters Insider, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said euro zone members "closed ranks" to help Ireland and should not be undercut by its corporate tax rate.

"Clearly there shouldn’t be tax competition between member states and there shouldn’t be a zone for arbitrage, and one that is not an appropriate level playing field," Lagarde said. "It’s a discussion that we will continue to have with our Irish friends."

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Candidates sought for next work training class

| 31/03/2011 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Organisers are now looking for applicants for the next Passport2Success group which is due to start on Monday, 2 May. A free public-private funded initiative, the programme targets young Caymanians aged 17 – 20 years, who are recent high school graduates and who have not yet found suitable employment. Wellness Centre Director and Programme Facilitator Shannon Seymour explained that applicants don’t need high school qualifications or work experience to participate but they must be committed, willing to attend every day, and want to improve their skills. The course has proved popular and spaces are limited so applicants are being urged to submit forms well in advance of the 7 April deadline.

Passport2Success which has had some success getting young Caymanians into the workplace is a twelve-week programme where students are given passports in which stamps are added as they successfully complete goals. Each stamp tells a potential employer that the holder is skilled in a particular area. The more stamps collected, the more employable the individual becomes.

Participants are required to attend classes each day of the twelve-week programme taking part in all the activities to the best of their ability, including daily lessons, group projects and community industry site visits. They also undertake a two-week job placement with organisations in which business relates to participants’ chosen areas of interest and engage in a week-long community-service project.

Candidates earn a weekly stipend. However, it is not guaranteed and must be earned by meeting certain programme criteria. Passport2Success emphasises adult literacy, adopts a practical hands-on approach and uses adult-based group learning instruction methods. Participants may also customise the programme to suit their areas of interest, but must participate in group activities.

Application forms are available online at www.passport2success.ky/apply or from The Wellness Centre located in Unit D5 at Cayman Business Park on Thomas Russell Way. Completed online forms may be submitted via email to info@wellnesscentre.ky or be printed and mailed to: Passport2Success, The Wellness Centre, P.O. Box 10462, Grand Cayman, KY1-1004, Cayman Islands. For more information, visit www.passport2success.ky , email The Wellness Centre on info@wellnesscentre.ky or call Shannon Seymour on 949-9355.

The Passport2Success Programme is co-sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Training and Employment, CML Offshore Recruitment, Butterfield Bank (Cayman) Ltd. and LIME Communications.

 

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Mayor says Barclays HQ would be welcome in NYC

| 31/03/2011 | 0 Comments

(Reuters): New York would welcome Barclays if the bank decided to move its headquarters from Britain, the city’s mayor said, in comments that suggested the Big Apple might be courting the bank. Barclays is considering moving its headquarters from London to dodge British capital rules, which the bank sees as onerous, people familiar with the matter said. The loss of the more than 300-year-old bank would be a blow to London’s prestige as afinancial center. Other banks are also considering leaving the City. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city is not offering any special incentives for Barclays to relocate, but would be delighted to become its new home.

"It would be a great move for them to move here," Bloomberg said at a press briefing. "I hope they move here; it’d be great for us.

At a conference in London, Barclays Chief Executive Robert Diamond said the bank is looking at options. "It’s our obligation on behalf of shareholders to look at the alternatives," he said.
But Barclays hopes not to move. "This is home and where we want to stay," he added.

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Premier signs new cash

| 31/03/2011 | 48 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) has issued new bank notes, which will be hitting the streets next month carrying the signature of the country’s premier in his role as minister of finance. The new D series of banknotes represents the first complete redesign of Cayman Islands banknotes since local currency was introduced in 1972. Besides looking different, the new notes incorporate features to significantly increase protection against counterfeiting and to make the notes more durable. All six denominations – the $1, $5, $10, $25, $50, and $100 banknotes – have been redesigned, carrying new images, patterns and, in the case of the fifty dollar bill, a new colour – purple.

In keeping with the change brought about by the 2009 Constitution, the signature of Minister of Finance McKeeva Bush now appears on each note, rather than that of the financial secretary, as was the case with the C series of banknotes. The signature of CIMA’s managing director also appears on each note.  Bush, who welcomed the new issue, described the notes as stunning.

“I am pleased with the design of these new banknotes, which are a stunning reminder of our i,slands’ natural treasures. I am happy too that the new series is being issued under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance. This serves as a marker of our recently updated constitution while the Queen’s portrait acknowledges our continued British Overseas Territory status,” Bush added.

CIMA said many of the familiar elements of the previous notes have been kept for continuity. The D series places heavy emphasis on the Cayman Islands’ environmental heritage, with most of the notes featuring indigenous fauna and flora from the three Islands. The jurisdiction’s expansion from its sea-faring tradition into a modern financial services centre is also depicted. Each note bears an updated portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, along with the Cayman Islands crest, and all the notes now carry an outline of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman

The new family of notes has been in development since 2007. CIMA Chairman George McCarthy explained the need for the new cash.

“The board felt that it was timely to carry out a complete update of the banknotes, first, to modernise a design that had not changed substantially since the initial 1972 design, and, second, to take advantage of the latest security features available,” he said. “Both the previous and current Cabinet agreed to this initiative. The length of the process, from conception to issuing, reflects how extensive the redesign has been and the many components of sucha project.”

As with all CI currency, CIMA will issue the new D series through the local retail banks. The issuing will be done on a phased basis.

Managing Director Cindy Scotland explained that the public will see the $5 and $25 notes first. “The other denominations will follow as the notes that are now in circulation are gradually withdrawn from circulation. All previously issued banknotes continue to be legal tender,” she said. “Much thought and work went into enhancing the security elements and increasing the number of different features on each denomination. While counterfeiters will always try, the new notes will be significantly harder to forge, especially if people know what to look for and are vigilant. I urge everyone to take time to get really familiar with the notes so they can better identify attempted counterfeits.”

During this week (28 March to 1 April) CIMA is partnering with the Chamber of Commerce on Grand Cayman and District Administration on Cayman Brac to host training sessions on the new series for banks, retailers and law enforcement.

A representative of the banknote printers, De La Rue, will lead these presentations. Throughout the coming weeks, CIMA will also disseminate informational material through the news media and in public places. This includes posters showing the denominations and flyers highlighting the notes’ visible security features. The posters will be on display in post offices and other high-traffic locations and the material will be accessible on CIMA’s website.

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PRs proposed for jury duty

| 31/03/2011 | 40 Comments

(CNS): The government is considering expanding the jury pool to include people who cannot vote. A new bill proposes to add permanent residents and Caymanian status holders (with or without naturalisation) as well as reducing the list of exempted professions and people. Members of the public are being asked to submit comments to the Attorney General’s Office for the Judicature Amendment Bill 2011, which suggests widening the list of persons eligible to serve as jurors in the Cayman Islands courts beyond the registered voters list. At this year’s official opening of the Grand Court the chief justice had drawn attention to the difficulties of finding people to serve on juries because of fear of intimidation or worse.

Rather than attempting to eliminate jury trials, as law enforcement officials had suggested last year, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie suggested that expanding the pool would be a more appropriate and just solution.

He said the legal profession was advising that the roll of jurors be widened from the voters list at present to include all adult persons lawfully resident in the Islands. “This would not only greatly increase the number of potential jurors, it would also spread all the burdens and responsibilities of jury duty across that wider base,” the country’s top judge had stated. “And it follows, there would be even less to be gained for those with criminal intentions in seeking to intimidate jurors, if they were assured that the society at large refuses to be intimidated.”

There are only 15,267 people on electoral list, which is just over a quarter of the current population of almost 55,000 people, as revealed by the preliminary census results earlier this month. From those who are eligible as voters, people over sixty are excluded as well as doctors and lawyers and even poor people, reducing the available pool by thousands.

Currently the governor, politicians, magistrates and justices of the peace, recognised pastors and ministers of religion, people working at the courts, medical practitioners, police officers and registrars are exempted, as well as those who can’t attend by reasons of poverty. People previously convicted before any court of an offence for which they were sentenced to prison and who have not received a pardon also cannot serve.

Officials are now considering removing some of the exemptions as well as including all permanent residents and increasing the current age limit from 60 to 70 years old. Lawyers too are being considered for inclusion, exempting only those attorneys who are actively engaged in litigation. The proposed bill further suggests remove the exemption for medical practitioners, registrars of land, births, marriages and death and those exempted by reason of poverty.

While the suggestion to widen the pool has been welcomed in some quarters of the community as a sensible solution, in particular increasing the age limit and removing some of the professional exemptions, the suggestion of adding permanent residents to the pool has, however, raised the question of their lack of democratic rights. The responsibility of serving on a jury works, in most democratic jurisdictions,hand in hand with the right to vote.

Anyone wishing to add their thoughts to the bill still being drafted should contact Tesia Scott in the Attorney General’s Chambers, 4th Floor, Government Administration Building or by email tesia.scott@gov.ky by Friday, 6 May.

See draft amendment bill below.

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Three car pile-up results in two DUI arrests

| 30/03/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police have arrested two men on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol following another early morning collision in the harbour front area of George Town. A three-car collision occurred at about 2.10am this morning, Wednesday, 30 March on North Church Street when one of the drivers veered into the opposite lane. Police said that investigations had revealed that the smash happened after the driver of a Honda Accord travelling north on Church Street lost control of his vehicle, entered the south bound lane and collided into two oncoming vehicles causing extensive damage to all three vehicles. Officers from Traffic Management and other units responded to the scene. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

One of the two drivers arrested was treated for a broken leg while the two other persons involved in the collision, a male and a female, received minor injuries.

Traffic Management said officers are still continuing with the investigation into the cause of the crash.
 

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Kidnappers given 10 years

| 30/03/2011 | 24 Comments

(CNS): Following the guilty verdict delivered to Honduran nationals Allan Kelly and Charles Webster on Wednesday morning on six counts relating to the kidnapping of Tyson Tatum, the judge handed down a ten year sentence in the afternoon to both men for the crimes. He also ordered that Wespie Mullins, the third man involved in the abduction conspiracy who had both pleaded guilty and given evidence against the other men, serve five years. The judge had rejected the defendants’ claims that they had committed the offence under duress and found that the crown had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. The three men were part of a conspiracy to kidnap the victim for a ransom of $500,000 last March, which the judge said was masterminded by Richard Hurlstone, who absconded from the jurisdiction while on bail.

The case was the first ever abduction for ransom in the Cayman Islands and when handing down the sentences to the guilty men, Justice Harrison said there was a need to be more resolute to stamp out such crime so it would not spread.

"This sort of behaviour can only be met with a heavy sentence," he added, before listing the sentences for each of the six counts against Kelly and Webster and the four against Mullins, all of which he said would run concurrently.

All three men had conspired to abduct, keep in confinement and assault Tyson Tatum and blackmail his mother Angelique Tatum who the men had called to make the ransom demands during the ultimately foiled kidnapping.

During the trial the court heard how Tatum was lured to an address in North Side in March 2010 by Webster who was posing as a customer wanting work done on some wave-runners. When the victim arrived at the property, where Mullins was the caretaker, the three men attacked Tatum and eventually bound and gagged him before tying him to a chair.

During the more than 24 hours or so that he was held by his kidnappers the men attempted to extract a ransom of $500,000 from his mother who had despite the kidnappers warnings reported the crime to the police. The three men eventually left Tyson alone in the house, and although bound and gagged and tied to a chair he still seized the opportunity to escape.

All three men, as well as Hulrstone, the man believed to be the ringleader were arrested soon after the bungled kidnapping and Mullins entered an early guilty plea. Hurlstone who was given bail absconded before the trial and is now believed to be in Honduras. Kelly and Webster both pleaded not guilty to the crimes claiming that they were forced into the conspiracy by Mullins whom they said had threatened their lives and the lives of their families. The judge however, said he did not believe that Webster and Kelly had acted under duress and dismissed their claims as a result of the evidence he had heard during the trial and the fact that the defence of duress was entered by the men very late in the proceedings against them.

When he sentenced the kidnappers, Justice Harrison told the court that the offences warranted a severe punishment as they had planned the crime, used force, demanded a significant sum of money and threatened to kill the victim. “The crime was committed purely out of greed,” the judge said. “The victim in this case was treated with brutality and terrified.” Justice Harrison went on to say that the trauma he experienced will take a long time to be erased and that his mother was put through the agonising, anxiety during the abduction.

Giving both Kelly and Webster ten year sentences for the abduction he also handed down six years for the count of blackmail, ten years for keeping in confinement, three years for assault five for the robbery of Tatum’s jewellery and a further two years for threatening to kill their victim. The judge said the sentences would be served concurrently and the year that the men have already served on remand would be counted.

Meanwhile, Mullins was given a discount for his very early plea, his full disclosure of the crime and his cooperation with the prosecution and giving evidence against his co-conspirators. He was given five years for his part in the abduction, five for the keeping in confinement, three years for the blackmail and two years for his part in the assault. Mullins was also told that the sentences would be served concurrently and that his time on remand would also count.
 

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Bronx Zoo’s missing cobra ‘speaks out’ on Twitter

| 30/03/2011 | 0 Comments

(BBC): A tongue-in-cheek Twitter user giving "updates" on a missing deadly Egyptian cobra now has some 35,000 followers. The 20in (50cm) venomous snake escaped from New York City’s Bronx Zoo on Friday, and is yet to be found. In one tweet, BronxZoosCobra says: "On top of the Empire State Building! All the people look like little mice down there. Delicious little mice." In its Twitter account, The Bronx Zoo – whichhas some 6,000 followers – admits it is currently "the snake’s game". The identity of the person behind BronxZoosCobra’s tweets has not been revealed.

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