Archive for July 22nd, 2011

Blaze destroys unfinished house in Swamp

| 22/07/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police have stated that no one was hurt Friday when a home which is currently under construction in the Swamp caught fire. The house on Greenwood Drive, George Town was damaged by the early morning blaze at about 3.11 am. After emergency services received the report police and fire service personnel arrived on location and found that the detached two story property was engulfed in flames. The occupants of the house were not at home at the time of the incident and the fire was extinguished by fire officers. 

At this time there are no suspicion circumstances, however, the Cayman Islands Fire Service is investigating the cause of the fire. Anyone with information pertaining to the fire should contact CID on 949-4222, or the confidential Crime Stoppers number 800-8477 (TIPS).

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Mother renders teen defendant into custody

| 22/07/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A Grand Court judge remanded a teen charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm into custody on Friday morning after his mother told the court she could no longer provide surety for him. Charles Ebanks who was on bail awaiting his trial was returned to Northward as Justice Alex Henderson said following his mother’s decision to render him into custody he would have to make a new bail application.  The young defendant was arrested in March this year near the LI nightclub and was later charged with having an unlicensed Ruger 44 revolver in his possession.

Ebanks told the court he could raise new surety on his bail after his mother said she was no longer prepared to put up the $5000. Part of the teen’s bail conditions were that he resided with his mother and the crown raised its concerns that even if the defendant was able to raise the bail money elsewhere there was now a question over his future residence until his trial which is scheduled to take place in March 2010.

The judge noted however, that once his mother had rendered the defendant into custody an entirely new bail application must be made and he cancelled the existing bail order.

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Sea search for missing vessel

| 22/07/2011 | 13 Comments

(CNS): A 37-foot vessel, the Miss Janice, with six crew on board has gone missing on its way to Swan Island and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service says it has launched a combined air and sea, search and rescue operation to find it, with the assistance of a visiting Navy ship's helicopter. The 911 Communications Center  was alerted that the boat was missing yesterday, 21 July, with four Caymanians and two Honduran nationals on board. Miss Janice departed Grand Cayman on Saturday,16 July, destined to Swan Island, Honduras, but has not yet arrived. Officers from the RCIPS Marine Unit and Air Support Unit, assisted by from the Linx helicopter from the HMS Wave Ruler  are currently searching for the vessel.

The Honduran Coast Guard has been notified and is also searching their waters, and all shipping has been advised to be on the lookout for the vessel.

“We are obviously very concerned for the safety of all six persons on board, and we are doing everything we can to locate the vessel by utilizing all assets available to us,” said Chief Inspector Malcolm Kay, who is overseeing the search and rescue operation.
 

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Premier overseas for regional OT conference

| 22/07/2011 | 47 Comments

(CNS): The country’s leader was not in the Cayman Islands yesterday when the governor revealed to the public that it was the premier who is at the heart of an investigation by the RCIPS into “financial irregularities.” McKeeva Bush has not yet responded to the governor’s revelations and is currently in the British Virgin Islands. The premier is attending the 2011 Pre-Overseas Territories Consultative Council (OTCC) meeting which began this morning. The premier’s office said the meeting brings together the leaders of British Overseas Territories to plan for the annual territories meeting in London that is scheduled for November.

Once the leaders of the Caribbean territories and Bermuda have agreed, they present a proposed agenda to the UK for the UK meeting.

At the opening ceremony of the meeting which the premier’s press secretary said lasts until Sunday 24 July the BVI premier, Ralph O’Neal welcomed the delegates and Bush spoke on behalf of the Overseas Territories.
 

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Chamber asks government to pull equality bill

| 22/07/2011 | 21 Comments

(CNS): The gender equality law which is due to come to the Legislative Assembly in the next few months is too onerous for business, the Chamber of Commerce has claimed. The Chamber, which represents local business, as well as the Cayman Islands Law Society are calling on government to withdraw the bill so that amendments can be made to it before it becomes law. The proposed bill was gazetted last month and deals with a variety of issues relating to equality, discrimination and the rights of employees. It also includes protections regarding sexual harassment in the work place.

The long awaited law has been in discussion for many years, and although many elements of it have been contained in other pieces of legislation, the bill provides for tribunals to hear cases of discrimination on a variety of issues that are not just gender related. However, the Chamber has said it wants to see the law revised to make it more practical, easier and less costly for employers to implement.

“The Chamber supports anti-discrimination legislation but the bill as drafted will increase the cost of doing business and adds more red tape at a time when businesses are struggling to keep their costs under control,” said Chamber President James O’Neill. “We strongly recommend that government withdraw the bill in its current form so that additional time can be given to consider the changes proposed by industry associations. Adding more bureaucracy and costs for employers at this time should be avoided at all costs,” he stated in a release from the Chamber.

The business representative body is not the only group that appears to be concerned about the bill, which essentially offers greater rights to workers in general and not just women.

The Cayman Islands Law Society has drafted a letter listing nine areas of concern, and aside from being supported by the Chamber of Commerce, the Caymanian Bar Association, the Insurance Managers Association of Cayman and the Compliance Association have all offered their support to the society’s correspondence. Meanwhile, the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association has also submitted a separate letter expressing similar concerns over the law.

“The business community as a whole is largely ignorant of this law and its effect. We do hope that the opportunity for wider consultation is given to the private sector to enable it to be able to air its concerns about the legislation, and for those concerns to be given due consideration and acted upon,” wrote Charles Jennings, President of the Cayman Islands Law Society has said in his letter to government.

 “While in principle we wholeheartedly support anti-discrimination legislation such as this, we fear that it may hinder employment and add to employers’ costs as they endeavour to implement it – at the very time of high unemployment, when every effort should be made to encourage hiring,” he adds.

Jennings and others are questioning how the new legislation will work alongside the Labour Law for maternity leave and discrimination, as well as the definition of remuneration, indirect discrimination, vicarious liability, paternity leave, harassment, and composition of the tribunal, forms and agreements.

However, local legal firm Walkers said responsible employers have nothing to fear from the bill but firms will have to ensure they are compliant. Nicholas Dunne, an associate with Walkers dispute resolution department, speaking on the new CML-TV said that the law offers more protections to employees by enabling them to take discrimination issues to a tribunal rather than having to pursue their cases through the courts.

He said it would affect all employers who need to familiarize themselves with this law which is expected to come to the Legislative Assembly during the next meeting.

See law here  and see CILS letter below.

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Cruise ship pulls up to George Town dock

| 22/07/2011 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Passengers on the Adriana, which called into George Town Thursday, enjoyed the unique experience of disembarking straight on to the dock as the small cruise ship was able to berth at the South pier. The ship, which arrived around 8am in the morning and left in the evening, brought 270 passengers who were able to walk off the ship. At only 4,490 tons and with the right size draft, the little cruise ship was able to berth as oppose to anchor out in the harbour. The ship was dwarfed by the Carnival Conquest, which was also in port in Thursday. By comparison that ship carries some 2974 passengers and has a tonnage of gross tonnage of 110,239. (Photos Dennie Warren Jr)

In turn the Conquest is now dwarfed by the introduction of the generation of mega cruise ships now sailing the oceans. Royal Caribbean’s Genesis carries 5,400 passengers and weighs around 220,000 tons.

It is the move by the cruise industry to using ever more enormous ships in the Caribbean region that is driving the desire by local tour operators and the government to develop cruise berthing facilities in George Town that can accommodate these ocean going giants.

The Adriana which was originally built in Greece in the 1970s is a dying breed among ocean liners. The ship normally sails in the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas but does the occasional tour of the Caribbean.

 

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North Side MLA’s office hit by burglars

| 22/07/2011 | 24 Comments

(CNS): The office of the independent MLA for North Side was the target of burglars earlier this month, Ezzard Miller has said — not the usual type of business premises favoured by villains as the office does not hold any cash. Miller said the only thing taken that he could be certain of was a camera but the computers and other electronic equipment were not stolen by the people who broke in. The MLA said the break-in occurred over the holiday weekend when he was off-island and he did not know whatthe motive of the criminals would be to break into a politician’s office.

When asked, the police confirmed that they had received a report on 5 July that sometime over the holiday weekend someone had broken into the premises and stolen a camera and enquiries were ongoing.

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Miller: ‘I achieved objective’

| 22/07/2011 | 38 Comments

(CNS): The independent member for North Side said he is content with the governor’s decision not to open a commission of enquiry regarding the premier as it is now clear that the issue which Ezzard Miller raised with the governor is already the subject of a police investigation. Miller said Thursday that had the governor or the commissioner been more forthcoming with the Caymanian people in the first place then he would not have had to make the request. However, Miller said this was now a matter of national importance and it was an untenable situation to have the holder of the highest public office at the centre of an investigation into “financial irregularities”.

Miller also said that, since the investigation triggered by the discovery of a letter which appears to be from McKeeva Bush to developer Stan Thomas has gone on for eighteen months, he hoped that this was not an indication the authorities lacked the will to bring it to a conclusion.

“I respect the decision of the governor not to call a commission of enquiry as he has now made it clear that the matter is already under investigation,” Miller told CNS in the wake of the announcement by the governor’s office. “But the governor and the police now need to explain to the people what is taking so long as this is of great national importance and there is an urgency to get this resolved," he said.

“If they had said that it was the premier a few weeks ago when this issue began to emerge into the public domain there would have been no need for me to ask for an enquiry. But the fact was no one would identify who it was that was being investigated over these financial irregularities,” he added.

Miller said the premier now needed to explain exactly what the letter to Thomas is about if, as Bush has claimed, he has done nothing wrong. “Now the governor has pointed out that he is the person, the onus is on him to demonstrate that his ‘heart is pure and his hands are clean’ as he has stated in public,” Miller stated.

He added that it was very disappointing the country’s leader should be under investigation over such a matter at this time of economic hardship and he said there was no doubt it would have an impact on the country as a global financial service centre.

In his correspondence with Miller the governor makes it clear that it is the letter purporting to be from Bush written on Windsor Development Corporation letter head which is at the centre of the official probe.

Bush has made some oblique references to an investigation and enquiries into his affairs and spoken about a real estate bill and he has not yet said the letter is a forgery. He has said that Miller’s request for an enquiry was a “red herring” to detract from the various projects which were about to start and he has denied on many occasions doing anything wrong.

The premier said when the opposition publicly indicated last month that they believed that he was at the centre of an investigation that he would make a statement. However, to date, although he has made brief comments, the premier has offered no formal statements or explanations for the letter.

The correspondence in question, which appears to have been faxed from the premier’s then ministry in October 2004, asks for a balance of $350,000 to be sent to the account of Windsor Development Corporation as a result of him having “ensured that all of the proposed re-zoning issues” had been approved by Cabinet.

At the time Bush was the leader of government business and according to the register of interests he was merely a signature on the bank account of Windsor Development, which belonged to his wife. Bush denies in the register being an active part of the company and declares that the only directorship he held was at Cambridge Real Estate Company.

Also, according to the CPA minutes, Windsor Development was not involved in the original zoning application process for the land, which was purchased by Thomas. It was eventually re-zoned in July 2004 by the Legislative Assembly after Cabinet gave its approval based on planning recommendations to change the country’s development map.

Miller stated in his original letter to the governor that he was not able to find a legitimate reason for Bush to be requesting money for his involvement in a re-zoning application and as a result was requesting a commission of enquiry.

See the governor’s response to Miller below.

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