Archive for August 2nd, 2011

Immigration offences during pending decisions rise

| 02/08/2011 | 10 Comments

(CNS): The immigration department is issuing warnings to employers and employees that foreign nationals who are waiting on the outcome of immigration decision or appeal require a special “working by operation of law” or WOL stamp in order to carry on working in the Cayman Islands until they receive an answer. Immigration’s Enforcement Unit reports that there is a rising number of offences in this area and increased detection of WOL offenders. In addition to hefty fees, employees and employers may be prosecuted for the offence respectively facing charges of overstaying and of causing a person to illegally remain in the jurisdiction. However, gaining the right stamp and paying the right fee will ensure that both parties avoid prosecution the department has said.

Certain specific requirements under the law need to be met in order to get a WOL stamp in a passport as no one can work legally without having authorized permission and having paid the relevant fee. People appealing work permit refusals, permanent residency refusals, those with pending PR applications, and anyone awaiting decisions on key employee applications, may be eligible to this stamp and the immigration department has created a new form for the application.

Officials said this had been introduced in order to streamline the process and help employers to provide immigration with the necessary information to make a determination on the eligibility of their employees. Failure to comply with having a valid WOL stamp or pay the requisite fees on each expiration can have serious implications. Fines can amount to more than two or three times the person’s work permit fee as well as the additional payments to update the relevant documents.

“In many cases the enforcement measures are avoidable, and the negligence is not intentional,” said Assistant Chief Immigration Officer, Enforcement Jeremy Scott. “However, being unaware of one’s employment status can be costly.”

As both employees and employers may be liable for different reasons Scott advised companies and human resource staff to keep employee files current to ensure they are within the law.

Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans explained that WOL passport stamps have been used for some years. However, because multiple agencies are sometimes involved, the new formal stamping process and application form will standardise the process.

“In cases of persons appealing permit refusals, the stamp confirms that they are allowed to reside and work in the Islands, but only for six-month intervals, and until they hear the outcome of their appeal,”  Evans said.

The Chief Immigration Officer further stated that if they receive a decision on their appeal, the stamp is voided immediately. The maximum length of time authorized on a WOL for a work permit appeal is the period of the person’s term limit.

The WOL stamp also covers anyone awaiting PR, and in those cases it is valid for up to a year. However, it must be renewed thereafter if an application remains pending. The new requirements for being granted a WOL extension stipulate that an applicant must produce various documents relating to their circumstances as shown below:

A cover letter stating the occupation in which they are being employed
A $100 processing fee
A medical lab report
Proof of a pension plan
Proof of health insurance
A completed application form
A copy of the employer’s business licence
A copy of the applicant’s appeal fee receipt (where relevant)
The application fee (The same amount as the person’s work permit fee; or, half of the work permit fee, where the WOL is only for six months).
For more information, applicants and businesses may seek legal counsel or contact the Department of Immigration on 949-8344 or visit www.immigration@gov.ky

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Legal issue delays AG report

| 02/08/2011 | 32 Comments

(CNS): Although the auditor general had intended to release another value for money audit this week, the office has confirmed that this has been delayed as a result of legal issues. Following a general report released by Alastair Swarbrick which raised serious concerns about the integrity of government’s procurement process, the country’s chief auditor had revealed that a second report detailing cases studies that had passed through the tendering process would soon follow. However, a spokesperson for the office has confirmed that this report has been delayed as a result of legal challenges that have been made concerning the completed report.

The report, which is a review of the entire procurement process for three specific request for proposals regarding government’s purchase of services,has reportedly hit legal issues, which Martin Ruben from the auditor general’s office said had to be addressed before it could be released.

Although unable to give details, the senior auditor told CNS that once the issues were cleared up, the auditor general would be able to answer questions. “The release of the report has been delayed as a result of legal issues that have arisen that need to be fully resolved before we can give the report to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly,” he said. “We don’t have a timeframe yet for the release but we will not allow the legal challenges to the report to prevent its release. We are not concerned over this challenge but issues need to be clarified and we still intend to ensure the report is made public.”

The much anticipated report is expected to detail what happened during the tendering process for the 2009 Jazz Festival, the government circumvention of the central tendering process in its efforts to secure cheaper financing for its debt in the 2010/11 financial year, and the purchase of CCTV equipment, which is now being erected in public places in an effort to fight crime.

It is a partner report to one released by the auditor general on 5 July, ‘Management of Government Procurement’, which spelt out a catalogue of problems surrounding the acquisition of goods and services by government, from a genuine risk of corruption through to a lack of requisite skill sets to ensure the public is receiving value for money when government spends tax payers' money.

In that first report Swarbrick found that there was no way the public could be sure that it was getting value for money from the more than $250 million being spent by government on goods and services. In a highly critical report Swarbrick noted that the practices and behaviour of the officials involved were “far from ideal” and had led to a significant waste of money.

He noted that there was no clear line of responsibility for management of how government spent money and that direct political interference had created significant risks for fraud and corruption which was virtually impossible to mitigate because of the lack of checks and balances. 

The next installment was expected to drill down into the process and examine three specific contracts which went through the central tendering process to see if the tax payer achieved value for money and what exactly happened with these contracts.

See previous report below.

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Dart holds ‘do’ for final beam in new office block

| 02/08/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Despite not having put the roof on, officials at Camana Bay held a ‘topping out’ event at the town last week as the developers laid the final beam in the framework of the Dart Group's latest building. Government officials as well representatives from Dart Realty and DECCO the developer’s construction firm held a ceremony for 94 Solaris Avenue, Camana Bay’s latest commercial building.  Key stakeholders including local contractors and subcontractors, construction workers and future office tenants were also present when Jackie Doak, Chief Operating Officer of Dart Realty, praised the spending work of the construction teams and spoke about the project and the firm’s commitment to the development of Camana Bay. 

“A topping out ceremony is usually held to commemorate the completion of the building’s structure. Today, as we lay the final beam in place to complete this building’s framework, I would like to thank our local construction partners and recognise the many men whose hard work has taken this project from ground-breaking to topping out in just six months,” she said

Doak said that this was the latest milestone in a long-term development plan that has had and will continue to have a significant impact on Cayman’s economy. She also announced plans to construct a sister building to the north of 94 Solaris Avenue, providing more office space in the nearly fully occupied Town Centre.

Since construction began on the Camana Bay Town Centre in May 2005, Dart Realty says that it has contracted over 200 local companies and provided jobs for over 4000 local workers resulting in a total economic impact of US$826 million to date.

Premier McKeeva Bush who was also present thanked Dart for what he said was the developer’s “continued confidence in the Cayman Islands” and said that, “the 20-30 year build out of Camana Bay and the proposed projects associated with the FORCAYMAN Investment Alliance will ensure further growth and a positive future for the country,” he added, speaking about the recent deal government has signed with the developer to swap crown land in exchange for more inward investment from the Dart group.

This latest commercial block under construction in Camana Bay was designed by Washington D.C.-based Torti Gallas and Partners and supported by local architects, the Burns Conolly Group. Scheduled for completion by July 2012, the 68,000 square foot, five storey building will house Class A office tenants and offer restaurant and retail on the ground floor.

Anchor tenants tenant Mourant Ozannes will be taking the top two floors and AON, a Cayman based risk management and insurance firm has now signed a lease to take the second floor of the building. Dart said that Mourant and AON join a long list of ‘best in class’ businesses that “see the Camana Bay Town Centre asthe perfect place from which to grow their operations.”
 

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Cops find loaded gun and arrest 3 robbery suspects

| 02/08/2011 | 33 Comments

(CNS): Officers from the RCIPS uniform support group recovered a loaded gun after a search in West Bay on Sunday evening. They also found gloves and a ski mask during the operation triggered by the suspicious behaviour of three men near to Club Inferno who have now been arrested. A police spokesperson said that at around 9.55 pm on Sunday 31 July, officers from the RCIPS Uniform Support Group were on routine patrol along Hell Road when they saw two men acting suspiciously by the side of the building. As the officers approached them another man came from the rear of the premises. All three were detained and the area was searched. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

During the search a loaded handgun, gloves and a ski mask were found nearby. A small quantity of Ganja was also recovered from the men. All three were arrested on suspicion of possession of an unlicensed firearm and possession of Ganja. Police stated Tuesday that all three remain in police custody while enquiries continue.
 

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Heritage home becomes Creek Post Office

| 02/08/2011 | 7 Comments

(CNS): The Creek Post Office on Cayman Brac reopened last month after nearly three years of closure due to severe damage from Hurricane Paloma in November 2008. After the search for a new post office building, the home of the island’s first midwife Petrona Connolly-Bodden was selected due to its significant heritage value. After minor modifications were made to the structure to accommodate its current use, the building, which houses both the Creek Post Office and Sister Islands Sports Office, was officially opened on 8 July.

During the rebuilding phase of the post office, the Creek post office boxes were moved into unrented boxes at West End Post Office, thus allowing Creek box holders to access their boxes. Four of the five post offices on Cayman Brac were damaged, with the one at Creek being the most severely damaged of the four. After the 2009 general elections, the Minister of District Administration Julianna O’Connor-Connolly, who has responsibility over postal services, began searching for an alternate site for the Creek Post Office. In the meantime, the district manager for Creek Post Office was stationed at the Stake Bay Post Office shortly after Hurricane Paloma and then at Spot Bay Post Office when it reopened in May 2009. 

The new post office, located at 5 Cantlin Drive, has 34 post office boxes and customers can top-up mobile phones for LIME and Digicel and make WestStar payments there. The post office opens on Monday – Thursday from 9am – 11:30am and 1:30pm – 3:00pm, on Friday from 9am – 11:30am and 1:30pm – 3:30pm and on Saturday from 9am – 11:30am.

The Ministry of District Administration says that they are considering their options on what to do with the former condemned post office building, located within Creek Cemetery. However, the ministry says they will move the building to provide more room for the cemetery at the very least.

The official opening was attended by Minister of District Administration and Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Acting Permanent Secretary of Distract Administration Tristan Hydes, Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary of District Administration Jonathon Jackson, Sister Islands District Commissioner Ernie Scott and Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow.

15-year-old Joshua Dilbert is a CNS summer intern.

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West Bay man charged with possession of firearm

| 02/08/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following an incident which took place outside a nightclub in West Bay last week, police say they have charged a 24 year old man for having an imitation gun and two other men with GBH. The three men are all due to appear in court today, police said, to face the charges of possession of an imitation firearm and assault GBH. The incident took place outside Club Inferno, Hell Road in West Bay at about 10.40 pm on Wednesday 27 July, when police say they received a report that a male had been injured. On arrival officers were told the man had been attacked by a group, struck on the head with a bottle and threatened with a firearm. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

The injured man was taken to hospital for treatment and released the next morning. The following day, Thursday 28 July, three men aged 20, 24, and 28 years were arrested in connection with the incident. They were arrested on suspicion of assault GBH and possession of an unlicensed firearm.

The charges come in the wake of several reports of people hearing gun shots fired in and around the area last week.

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Police still search for Kerry

| 02/08/2011 | 46 Comments

(CNS): Various units from the RCIPS are continuing the search for a missing Bodden Town woman following the discovery of her car on Monday in Pedro, Savannah, around noon on Monday. Twenty-five-year-old Kerran (Kerry) Baker was last spotted on Saturday evening by friends and has not been seen or heard from since, which is said to be out of character for her. Police discovered a suitcase in the trunk of the her white Honda Civic but have offered no other information or clues to the whereabouts of the missing Jamaican women, who worked at a doctor’s office. Police were searching the area where Kerry's car was found Monday and in other areas of George Town as the day drew to a close with still no sign of her.

A friend of Kerry’s discovered her handbag and partly unpacked groceries at her apartment where she lived alone in Arrow Drive, Bodden Town, Sunday after raising the alarm with her landlord. The friend then contacted the police as concern mounted about the missing woman, who is said to use her phone frequently.

“The fact that Kerran left the house without her handbag is very unusual,” said Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden. "She also uses her phone a lot – but none of her friends or family have received any calls or messages from her since Saturday evening.”

The senior officer said that door to door enquiries have been conducted in the area of Arrow Drive and throughout Monday afternoon scenes of crime officers processed her vehicle for evidence, including fingerprints the case was also removed from the car. K-9 units and the RCIPS helicopter searched the area and the police were also said to have made visits connected to the investigation with a K9 unit to apartments in the George Town area.

Kerry is described as being around 5’5” in height and approximately 135 lbs. She has brown eyes and dark shoulder length hair. At this stage there is no description available of the clothes she was last seen wearing.

Anyone with any information about Kerran should contact George Town police station on 949-4222.

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CPA to consider ‘flawed’ plan

| 02/08/2011 | 27 Comments

(CNS):The objectors to the proposed Emerald Sound development in South Sound say that the Central Planning Authority will be hearing the application for the controversial development without the benefit of crucial information on Wednesday. According to the objectors no government department has supplied the authority with information regarding storm surge and the National Roads Authority made its submissions based on inadequate plans. The objectors say that in short the authority will be considering the application tomorrow with flawed plans and missing information regarding the potential hazards of the project.

According to correspondence to the planning department from the NRA the country’s road’s company said it cannot supply the CPA with information on storm-surge analysis and coastal engineering impacts of this proposed development, as requested, as that was not in its remit. The NRA told the CPA it could only supply information on transportation and drainage & storm-water management issues.

The correspondence between the two public authorities also demonstrates that the NRA was not given the full plans. In his memo to the director of planning, Denis Thibeault, assistant director at the transportation & planning unit said that the NRA was aware the developer had retained the services of an overseas civil engineering firm in preparing plans for this project but it had not seen any of the preliminary engineering details of the project beyond what was shown on the subdivision and excavation plan.

Aside from not receiving all of the information it required the NRA also pointed out that there were a number of unanswered questions regarding the plans not least who will maintain and inspect the bridge structure and foundation as Thibeault said the NRA is not “outfitted to conduct such maintenance and inspection function.” Among themany recommendations that the NRA made engineering staff also pointed out that a maximum slope of 6 percent for the vertical profile of the proposed bridge would be required which would require the bridge to be 50% longer than shown by the developer’s plan.

The objectors to the development have also contacted Cayman Islands Hazard Management department and discovered that it has supplied no information to the CPA regarding the storm-surge analysis and coastal engineering impacts of the development.

Given that the main basis for the objections to the development is this issue those leading the campaign against the project have questioned how the CPA will be able to properly consider the proposals at tomorrow’s hearing.  Given the absence of want is crucial information the objectors say the planning department should not yet have submitted the plans to the CPA to hear.

“The CPA will on August 3, therefore be considering the proposed development without taking into consideration form external agencies commenting on the objectors concerns about storm-surge and coastal impacts of the canal to the sea,” the objectors stated. “Surely this must be an abuse of process to ignore the concerns of objectors by not providing the CPA members with information to make informed decisions and take into consideration the reasons for objections.”

The objectors were also concerned that government agencies have not been communicating with each other over the proposed project and as a result other crucial information is missing.

Not only that, but the correspondence from the NRA which was sent to planning shows that the recommendations made by the authority as far back as 2009 have not been acted upon by the developer and introduced into the plans.

“The CPA is scheduled to consider a plan with fundamental flaws, this reflects very poorly on processes within the Planning Department,” the residents and objectors noted.

The planning meeting is still expected to take place on Wednesday and those against the development are hoping that they will be able to impress upon the CPA the real and genuine concerns people have over the developer’s plans to cut canals into the site that they say poses significant risk to the marine and land environments in the area.

With a petition submitted almost 18 months ago to the planning department containing more than a thousand signatures from residents in the 1500 foot zone as well as much farther afield, alongside a report from the DoE which made the dangers of the development very clear, residents and objectors are very concerned that they are being ignored by the planning department and that the development could be approved on flawed plans.

See NRA comments and plans for the development below 

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Man acquitted over sibling shooting charge

| 02/08/2011 | 10 Comments

(CNS): Justice Charles Quin found Simon Jose Newball of Leafy Lane, George Town, not guilty of possession of an unlicensed firearm last week after he was accused of attempting to shoot his brother in October last year. The judge handed down the verdict after a short trial in crown court last month in which the prosecution had contended that Newball had shot at his brother five times with a handgun as a result of a family dispute. Newball denied the allegations saying not only did he not have a gun with which he had tried to shoot his brother, but that his brother had in fact come at him with a machete. In his ruling the judge said that the case depended entirely on the evidence given by Newball’s brother, the complainant Philip McLaughlin. 

However, he said he could find no evidence during the trial that either the complainant or the defendant had lied to the police or the court, but with two diametrically opposing accounts of what occurred on the evening of 24 October at Leafy Lane, one of them must not have told the truth.

McLaughlin had claimed that when he turned up at Leafy Lane following a distressed phone call from his mother, who lived there with his two brothers, Newball had shot at him several time. He told the court that Newball had taken a gun from his waist band, loaded it with two bullets and shot towards him but over his head. He then ran off and McLaughlin said he gave chase but did not catch his brother before he disappeared into the bushes off Walker’s Road. A little later after checking on his mother, McLaughlin claimed that as he returned to his truck he saw Newball again who fired more shots at him.

However, Newball said that this was not true and that when McLaughlin had turned up  he was carrying a machete and had chased after him hurling obscenities. Newball claimed that if he had a gun, as his brother claimed, he would not have had any reason to run. Giving evidence on his own behalf, he said he did not have a gun and had not fired one. He also revealed that he and his brother didn’t talk and there were long standing problems between them.

The judge said that both men’s evidence was consistent throughout the trial, creating the problem of two completely conflicting accounts of the same incident. Justice Quin said he had to depend on other evidence which came from the police officer in the case and the mother of both of the men.

During his enquiries DC Berry could find no evidence of shots being fired or witnesses that heard shots on the Sunday evening in question near to the property where the two men lived and where the incident was alleged to have taken place. Although the defendant and his clothes were swabbed for gunshot residue, they were never sent for testing so there was an absence of any GSR to establish whether a gun was ever fired on the night in question in the location.

The mother of the two men, who was in a difficult position, the judge said, having to give evidence in a trial where one son was making a complaint about another, also stated that she did not hear gunshots that evening nor had she ever seen Newball with a gun.

In his ruling Justice Quin said he was “faced with two irreconcilable accounts of what happened,” but neither the evidence of Berry nor the brothers’ mother offered anything to corroborate the complainant’s account of the incident. The judge noted that the evidence did in fact tend to support the defendant’s account of the evening, so he felt bound to find the defendant not guilty.

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NHC issues first warnings on tropical storm Emily

| 02/08/2011 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The fifth storm of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season formed around 50 miles west-southwest of Dominica on Tuesday evening. At 6:30 local time Tropical Strom Emily was located 15.2N 62.0W about 350 miles south-east of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The National Hurricane Centre in Miami said Emily had reached maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and was moving west at 17 mph. Forecasters were predicting a turn toward the west-northwest and a slight decrease in forward speed over the next couple of days.  If Emily remains on track it is expected to move across the North-eastern Caribbean Sea where watches and warnings are in effect for the Windward Islands.

The NHC said general strengthening was expected as Emily headed towards the island of Hispaniola Tuesday night and Wednesday with general strengthening expected. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 70 miles mainly to the north of the centre.

Tropical storm conditions were said to already be occurring or imminent in the warning area in the Windward Islands and were expected in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic Tuesday.

Currently the five day forecast has Emily passing across Cuba and avoiding the Cayman Islands but a slight change in the forecasted track could bring the storm closer to the Cayman area.

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