Archive for September 13th, 2011

Mac tears up rules proposal

| 13/09/2011 | 87 Comments

(CNS): The premier literally tore up and threw in the bin a private members motion which proposed that government follow a clear set of rules and be more transparent when dealing with major projects. McKeeva Bush said on Thursday evening in the Legislative ASsembly that Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin had done everything he could to try and stop government in its efforts to turn the economy around but his motion belonged in the waste basket. During the debate on the motion asking government to conduct proper analysis on potential development projects before signing deals, Bush said that it was “political and nasty and dirty as can be” as he told the opposition leader to stop trying to make the country think he was doing something wrong. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

As he tore up the motion and asked the serjeant-at-arms to bring the waste basket, the premier said that he couldn’t accept it, despite the fact that government would be undertaking assessments and studies and “doing all those things” because the member (Alden McLaughlin) in his usual “dirty stinking ways” had no grounds to challenge government. The Speaker interupted the premier before he flung more insults at the  opposition leader, warning him to "watch his adjectives", before he continued on.

The private members motion asked government to commit to publishing independent and objective feasibility studies, economic and environmental impact assessments, as well as telling the people what the plans entail before approving major development projects.

McLaughlin had pointed out that over the last eighteen months or so there had been a number of announcements that had caused enormous concern and generated significant opposition in the community, such as the proposed East End Sea Port and the North Sound dredging.

He said that when announcements were made by government about projects they are usually declared as being beneficial in the absence of assessments demonstrating what the impact of the proposals may have. “It is simply presumed that if there is major development it will inure for the good of the Cayman Islands, it seems,” the opposition leader said as he tabled his motion.

He said that all governments were faced with the challenge when considering development about how much to concede in return for the benefits and had to carefully balance the issues. McLaughlin said that before the countrycould support a project it needed to understand the proposals properly, based on independent reviews and assessments.

In response, Bush said government was not entering into any major project deals without undertaking the proper assessments and he said that the opposition leader knew that government would not have cut a channel in the North Sound before an environmental impact study was completed.

He railed against McLaughlin when he said that it was because of the leaks that must be at the hands of the opposition that project proposals were circulating in public before government even had a chance to say anything about them.

“They don’t even give us time to go out and be able to explain it,” he said. “It just shows you the real situation in this country and the kind of politicking that is going on … and the kind of political manipulation of the public service in the country that has gone on, that they can do these kinds of things with impunity! And get away with it because it got to be them doing this, nobody else has this kind of information,” he yelled at the opposition as he spoke about documents being “placed on car windshields” or “pushed under people’s doors”.

He also criticised the opposition for the agreement that he says the PPM administration made with Michael Ryan behind closed doors for Dragon Bay, which was worth millions of dollars in concessions. He said that the PPM signed a heads of agreement with Ryan and kept it secret and until now they “haven’t told the whole world” what they did. “They gave all kinds of concessions,” Bush added, asking where the opposition leader was when the Cabinet he was part of was signing that. He said the PPM didn’t even do assessments for the government projects much less the private sector.

“And he has the audacity to stand in this honourable House and accuse us of not doing the right thing. I intend to do with this motion … where it ought to go, that is to tear it up and throw it in the waste paper basket,” the premier said.

Bush said government signed MOUs to give it room to discuss possible projects but it is not until after those discussions that assessments or studies could be done. However, he said that when they get to that point, the projects would go through the correct regulatory procedures. “All we want to do is the right thing and the correct thing for the country,” he said.

As he wrapped up his motion, McLaughlin said that he wasn’t sure he should dignify the premier’s rant with a response but he said that anytime anyone suggests anything which the premier believes might prevent him from exercising his almighty power without any regard to anything, he becomes like that. He said the premier’s tearing up of the motion was indicative of the way the he manages the country.

“Anyone who suggests anything not in keeping with his way, he just destroys whatever it is they have said or written and describes in adjectives that are not parliamentary because it doesn’t meet his will,” the PPM leader added.

McLaughlin said he thought the premier might have learned his lesson after trying to force huge projects down the collective throats of the people with little or no thought having being given to them but the only consideration was for the almighty dollar. He said the motion suggested entirely reasonable propositions to help people make sound judgements about projects.

No other members spoke on the motion, which was defeated when all the government members present voted against it.

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Cayman meets review transparency standards

| 13/09/2011 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Government has announced that changes made in the wake of the first assessment the Cayman Islands is now in compliance with all nine essential elements of international tax transparency and information exchange standards as set by the OECD’s Global Forum. The forum has reported that as a result of the changes made since the 2010 Phase 1 report from the Peer Review Group (PRG) and the submission of a supplementary report this summer Cayman is now compliant. Samuel Bulgin, QC Cayman’ attorney general who presented the supplementary report at the Global Forum PRG meeting held in Grand Cayman in July said it outlined proof that all nine of the Global Forum’s essential elements are in place.

“The Cayman Islands has moved quickly to address the shortcomings identified in its 2010 review in respect of the availability of accounting records,” the OECD has said about the jurisdiction adding that concerns originally raised with respect to nominees and the availability of ownership information had been addressed. Although the international organisation also noted that, “Some other recommendations concerning the availability of ownership and identity information remain and these will be considered in the phase 2 review of the Cayman Islands, to take place in the second half of 2012.”

Premier McKeeva Bush said the supplementary report highlighted Cayman’s enactment of the Companies (Amendment) Law, 2010; the Partnership (Amendment) Law, 2010; the Exempted Limited Partnership (Amendment) Law, 2010; and the Trusts (Amendment) Law, 2011. “These amendments, which were in response to findings outlined in the Phase I report, assist government in meeting the international standards on tax information exchange,” Bush who also is the Minister of Finance said.

Bulgin explained that the amendments prescribe the keeping of relevant accounting records, including underlying documentation, for a minimum period of five years. The supplementary report also reflects the Global Forum’s removal of the recommendation in respect to nominees and the availability of ownership information; the removal of this recommendation maintains consistency across Global Forum reports.

The supplementary report also notes Cayman’s continued development of its information-exchange network, through the signing of tax information-exchange agreements (TIEAs).

Cayman has signed tax deals with 25 jurisdictions including one of which became two. With the 2010 official dissolution of the Netherland Antilles Cayman was credited with having separate agreements with the countries of Curaçao and Sint Maarten.

Government’s supplementary report, which contains full details of Cayman’s response to the Phase I report, is published on the OED Website. Bulgin said this ensures transparency in member jurisdictions’ tax information regimes and the peer review process.

The Cayman Islands is a member of the Global Forum’s Steering Group, which prepares and guides the forum’s work and is also is a member of the Global Forum PRG, which is responsible for thepeer review process.

 

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Weavering case ‘abhorrent’ says local directors’ body

| 13/09/2011 | 22 Comments

(CNS): Following its review of the recent ‘Weavering’ case where a judge condemned the role of the directors in a hedge fund case and awarded millions of dollars of damage against them, the Cayman Islands Directors Association (CIDA) said the case illustrates the need for professional independent directors. Pointing out that neither of the directors of the Cayman registered fund were based here nor were they members of CIDA the president said had they been the men would have been subject to the association’s code of conduct requiring them to “display duties of care and diligence”  whilst acting  “truthfully and honestly.”

The judgement in the Weavering case was delivered by Justice Jones QC in Cayman’s Grand Court last month and has attracted significant attention after the failings of the two directors of the Weavering Macro Fixed Income Fund Limited were faced with $111 million in damages against them for their performance.

CIDA said the case revealed numerous failings by the directors of the Cayman based fund that were not subject to the CIDA Code of Conduct which is based, on the Institute of Directors in the UK (IOD) Chartered Directors Code of Professional Conduct and sets out the basic standards expected of a director.

In the judgement Justice Jones said directors were not “entitled to assume the posture of automatons, as these Directors did, by signing whatever documents are put in front of them by the investment manager without making enquiry or applying their minds to the matter in issue,” he said.

Paul Harris, CIDA’s president said the actions of the Weavering Directors which included signing minutes of meetings that did not actually take place were “abhorrent to the independent director profession.”  Promoting the local professionals Harris said that while there is no requirement to have a director located in the jurisdiction this case “certainly makes clear that hedge funds should at the very least appoint a high quality professional director found from the Cayman Islands.”

“Although the concept of being an independent director as a profession is somewhat unique to the Cayman Islands, this reflects the concentration of hedge funds located in the Cayman Islands,” Harris explained, adding that local professional directors have proved their value. 

“In particular during the recent financial crisis it became apparent that independent directors offered from the Cayman Islands were indispensible when hedge funds were faced with making difficult decisions,” he said. “They monitored decisions made during that time in order to ensure that such decisions were made in accordance with the fund documents and that all shareholders were treated fairly.”

He said that the vast majority of all new hedge funds have at least one independent director on their boards and if hedge funds do not have such representation then they at least risk the perception by investors that a situation such as the Weavering case may arise with their fund. 

CIDA Executive Committee Member, Victor Murray (LLB, PG Dip LP) said that the availability of an increasing number of independent directors from the Cayman Islands is “vital to the continued confidence that investors have shown in the Cayman based hedge fund product.” He added that not only have they helped make Cayman hedge funds efficient investment vehicles they have ensured that they are trusted by all counterparties.

Harris said directors offered from the Cayman Islands are of a very high quality and they understand the specific requirements of a Cayman Islands hedge fund director.

In the wake of the case CIDA will be hosting a seminar which will be open to CIDA non-members in the next few weeks to review the Weavering decision in CIDA's role of educating and promoting Cayman Islands directors

See the code of conduct for CIDA here

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China to lend Caribbean more than $1billion

| 13/09/2011 | 1 Comment

(Reuters): China has announced it will provide $1 billion in loans to Caribbean countries to finance infrastructure projects as it deepens ties in a region historically linked with the United States. The loans will be made available through the state-run China Development Bank, China's Vice Premier Wang Qishan told a meeting of Caribbean and Chinese officials in Port of Spain, capital of oil and gas producer Trinidad and Tobago. "China cannot develop itself in isolation of the world and the world needs China for its development," he said.

The financial help comes as many Caribbean countries struggle with stagnant economies hit by anemic growth in the United States and Europe, the traditional sources of investment and visitors for many of the region's tourism-dependent states.


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Dart becomes key Catboat sponsor

| 13/09/2011 | 3 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Catboat Club received a $175,000 from the islands’ biggest developer on Thursday after signing a three year sponsorship agreement with Dart. The money will be put towards the restoration costs of the magnificent Whittaker cat, as well as the club house and will also be used for a series of catboat races and regattas. Jerris Miller, president of the club explained that the Whittaker will be used for educational programmes and outreach, to ensure that catboats and their importance in the history of the Cayman Islands are not forgotten. Miller and VP Capt Kem Jackson received the cheque from Dart at a Business After Hours event at Camana Bay. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

As well as working on the restoration of the historic vessel the Club is continuing the renovation of the Catboat Clubhouse which is located next to the Lobster Pot on South Church Street.“The Clubhouse is key to our future,” said Miller. “When fully renovated, the historic building will house a fully functional workshop and museum, allowing us to deepen our outreach efforts and instil a passion for restoring and sailing the small craft in members of the local community.”

The rest of the cash will be spread over three years, with CI$25,000 each year going to fund the races and regattas. The races will take place on Seven Mile Beach and in the North Sound, culminating in the Camana Bay Catboat Cup Series Championship atRoyal Palms on 14 November.

Dart has been a supporter of the Cayman Catboat Club for over a decade, ever since Austin Ebanks one of Dart’s first employees as well as some of the Club’s other members introduced Dart’s CEO Mark VanDevelde to this historic and elegant craft.

“The tremendous effort that the Club’s members put into preserving such an authentic aspect of Cayman’s heritage resonates well with our community and philanthropic goals, and ties back to one of Dart’s core values of industriousness. Dart is very proud to be a long-time supporter of the Cayman Catboat Club.”
 

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Young driver gets 2 years jail for road-racing death

| 13/09/2011 | 41 Comments

(CNS): A judge handed down a sentence of two years imprisonment and a five year driving ban to twenty two year old Jarrett Morgan, Monday, for causing the death, by dangerous driving, of Mathew Bodden (23) in January 2010. Bodden who was the passenger in a car died when Morgan lost control of the vehicle on Shamrock Road as he overtook a line of five cars at over 100mph. As he handed down the sentence the judge said he found it “difficult to imagine a more dangerous piece of driving” and that it was a miracle more people were not killed or seriously injured in the high speed smash.

Morgan who pleaded guilty to the crime in July admitted that he was racing with another car as the vehicles passed Savannah post office on the night of the smash which occurred around 10:15mph. According to the accident expert when the driver lost control of the Honda Torneo it was travelling at over 107mph as it passed some five cars and before reaching the bend in Shamrock Road close to house number 2451 where Morgan lost control.

The car then skidded to the left of the road colliding with a wall when the vehicle hit a column it rotated in an anticlockwise motion as debris was flung in several directions across the road causing damage to cars on the other side. The wrecked Honda travelled more than 300feet before coming to rest in the middle of the road at an angle facing Will T Drive.

Although Bodden had somehow managed to crawl from the vehicle as it came to a stop he was pronounced dead as a result of blunt trauma injuries at the Cayman Islands hospital at 11:07. Bodden’s brother, Philip, who was also in the car sitting in the rear seat was dragged from the vehicle by Morgan and survived the smash.

Morgan who has been a civil servant since leaving school and was a member of the national football team has no previous convictions and the court said he had shown genuine and deep remorse over the death of his friend. He was also supported during the sentencing by the deceased’s brother and the court observed the family understood that Morgan did “not intend to end Matthew Bodden’s life” and had forgiven him for the tragic event.

Several complimentary references were given to the court on Morgan’s behalf from his employers and other leading members of the community, but, Justice Charles Quin the presiding judge said that despite the mitigation he could not ignore the fact that he was travelling at such a dangerous speed at the time of the smash.

Recognising that the death of Matthew Bodden was punishment in itself for Morgan he said that the court must still impose a sentence which in some measure drives home the message of the dangers of driving like this on a public road and the gravity of the consequences.

“The drivers who drive dangerously and find themselves in situations such as the one in which the defendant now finds himself must realise that no matter what their mitigating circumstances a custodial sentence will be imposed,” Justice Quin said.

Given the circumstances of the case the judge was faced with a maximum tariff of between three and five years. Taking the guilty plea into consideration as well as the mitigating circumstances he handed down a two year prison term to Morgan who was then taken into custody.

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Miss Angola takes 60th Miss Universe title

| 13/09/2011 | 13 Comments

(CNS): A twenty five year old business student from Benguela Miss Angola, was crowned Miss Universe after impressing the judges with brains as well as beauty. Unfortunately, despite her best efforts in the preliminary rounds Miss Cayman Islands didn’t make the top 16 in the glitzy contest Monday night. Leila Lopes is the 60th woman to be crowned in the international pageant but the first from her own country and only the fourth African woman. Lopes pipped Miss Ukraine Olesia Stefanko, first runner up to the post after telling the judges she considered herself endowed with inner beauty. “I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family, and I plan to follow those through the rest of my life," she said.

Priscila Machado Miss Brazil managed second runner-up in front of the home crowd followed by Miss Philippines Shamcey Supsup who had topped the fan board during the show and Miss China Luo Zi Lin came in fifth.

Sadly, although she looked fantastic during the semi finals on Friday Cristin Alexander was unable to sway the judges with her evening wear, bikini or stunning carnival style national costume.
 

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Cops say stabbing victim was not car-jacked

| 13/09/2011 | 5 Comments

(CNS): Police have revealed that the two victims involved in what was believed to have been a second car-jacking and robbery on Thursday evening (8 September) were known to each other and the car was incidental to the incident in which the driver was stabbed. The victim who is not a resident but was visiting someone on the island had initially reported that his car was taken from him forcibly and that was how he was injured. Police said Monday that the investigation into the incident is on-going but this was not a car-jacking or robbery. DS Marlon Bodden stated that the incident which took place near the Ed Bush stadium was being taken seriously but it did not occur the way it was first reported.

The senior officer told the media that the man who was stabbed had been released from the hospital and the man who was arrested on the night was still in custody. Although Bodden did not elaborate on the status of the investigation he said the car had been seized by police.

Although this incident turned out not to be a car robbery police are however on the hunt for the two perpetrators of a genuine carjacking in the car park of Dolphin Discovery earlier Thursday evening on North West Point Road. Bodden said that the woman who worked at the facility was confronted by two men wearing sunglass and coverings over their faces as she approached her car.

The men appeared to have a gun and they demanded that she handed over the items that she was carrying. The robbers took her purse, a laptop and then drove away with her car which was found shortly afterwards in Bonaventure Lane just a few hundred yards away.

The police say the woman was not injured and both suspects were described as around 6 feet tall with dark complexions. He said neither of the suspects had yet been arrested nor had the stolen goods been recovered.  Bodden warned people that they could find themselves in trouble with the law if they buy stolen goods and if anyone is offered items for sale on the road they should contact the police.

Anyone with information about gun crime in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777 or the confidential Crime stoppers number 800-8477 (TIPS).
 

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DoE officer swims captured turtle to safety

| 13/09/2011 | 23 Comments

(CNS): Two female green turtles have been rescued this month as a result of efforts by the DoE’s chief conservation officer and the police helicopter. In the two separate incidents poachers had tied up and attempted to hide the endangered green turtles, expecting to return for their illegal catch at a later date, but in both cases Mark Orr freed the female turtles and released them back into the ocean. In one case Orr actually swam out to sea with the 200lb turtle to ensure she did not get tangled up in the mangroves where she was found, which proved to be something of a battle for the officer. “It was quite a struggle convincing the 200lb turtle that I was bringing her to safety as she continually tried to bite me. Once out of the cove, I first made sure she did not have any injuries before releasing her,” Orr said.

The turtle was discovered on Wednesday, 7 September, following a joint operation by the police and the Department of Environment (DoE). Orr said the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) Air Unit had raised the alarm after spotting a wave runner that had a large object tied to the front of it.

“The wave runner was later stopped by the RCIPS marine unit, but nothing was found,” Orr revealed. “We then instigated a land and sea search in the area where the RCIPS Air Unit had first seen the wave runner. The turtle was later found in the back of a cove where she was tied to a tree by her front fins. Worried that she would get entangled in the mangroves if just set free, Orr turned her on her back and swam her back out to the North Sound.

A few days earlier another poaching attempt was foiled near Sand Hole Road after people walking the beach notified DoE.

“We suspect that the one near Sand Hole Road, a 375 pound green turtle, was probably laying eggs when she was caught and tied up. Poachers then hid her in the bush, but before they could return, she was found,” Orr explained.

The senior officer pointed out that Cayman’s turtles are endangered and are all protected by law. He also encouraged the public to be the DoE’s “eyes and ears” and report any poaching or attempted poaching.

“We cannot be everywhere and thus rely heavily on information from the public. If you see something, call 911, contact the police or talk to me directly at 916-6271,” he added.

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Cops get $4M more cash

| 13/09/2011 | 39 Comments

(CNS): Government has agreed to give the police another $3.6 million to help the RCIPS tackle serious crime. The extra cash comes on top of $1 million promised by Cabinet last week. After two days of meetings involving the governor, the police commissioner and elected members, the government, backed by the opposition, has agreed to more funding for personnel and resources to tackle serious gang and gun crime. There may also be an increase for the crime stoppers reward to $100,000 sponsored by government if Cabinet approves the idea, as well as an external independent review of the RCIPS. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

Following a motion tabled by the premier on Friday and an intense debate, in which all of the elected officials united in their call for a crack squad, the commissioner and the governor spent many hours in closed door meetings with the MLAs on Friday evening and Monday morning. The result was an increase in the budget, which will double the number of officers assigned to the serious crime unit and help them focus on the gun and gang crime which is fuelling the increase in armed robbers and increase in violent crimes.

The premier said he would also be discussing the possibility of government sponsoring an increase in the crime stoppers reward, which is usually a flat rate of $1000 but sometimes boosted by local sponsorship in the face of specific crimes, to as much as $100,000 for information on violent crimes relating to gangs and guns.

During Friday’s debate the members had called for a different approach to the way the RCIPS go about policing, with many suggesting the UK method of policing did not work and also suggested arming officers. Some members had called for Tasers to be introduced for all officers if they were not to carry guns. It was revealed that, as part of the compromise about policing methods, the commissioner agreed to an independent body reviewing the RCIPS to look at internal policy and procedures.

As the elected representatives faced Police Commissioner David Baines and his deputy, Steve Brougham, along withthe governor and made their demands for more action in the face of rising crime on Monday, Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden was meeting with the press and listing a number of efforts made by the police at the weekend that had produced good results for the RCIPS.

Between Thursday and Saturday police arrested two people in connection with firearms possession, seized three lethal barrelled semi-automatic weapons with ammunition, arrested one man in connection with supplying ganja and seized $90,000 worth of stolen goods in three targeted operations.

The additional resources that elected members have now voted to give to the police will boost the budget to around $32 million, which is closer to the allocation the RCIPS received before the cuts began in the 2009 financial year as a result of the recession, and will enable the police to return to the previous headcount.

See release below from the premier's office regarding the agreements reached between the commissioner and elected members

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