Archive for October 18th, 2011

Immigration gets cash boost

| 18/10/2011 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Immigration has receive an extra $50,000 in funding from Cabinet in order to cover its overtime bill for the expected increase in workload in the face of the latest amendments to the law. The immigration boss has said that enquiries have already increased as a result of the announced changes from people seeking to find out if they qualify for the seven year term limit suspension or a ten year permit. Although there are around 745 people facing rollover before the end of this year alone, as government has not yet defined the jobs or industry sector that will qualify for the ten year permits, immigration does not know what sort of workload increase that change in the law could create. (Photo Jasmine Jackson)

The premier moved to suspend rollover last month for a period of two years to both reduce what was feared could be a mass exodus of work permit holders from the islands over the next year and a half and to give government time to think of a new solution to the current immigration policies of the seven year term limit and key employee status, which the premier said had not worked and caused “more harm than good”.

Linda Evans, the chief immigration officer, confirmed that Cabinet has allocated extra funding for the anticipated increase in workload. While the department has the statistics of those that will now qualify for a term limit extension permit or TLEP over the next 18 months, as yet she said she could not say how many applications for ten year permits the department may be dealing with.

“For this provision to come into effect the Cabinet must first determine which occupations and industries will be eligible. The number of occupations and the industries selected will determine the volume,” she told CNS, adding that at this point there was still no indication what they would be.

The immigration boss also said that the department was now gearing up to accept applications for the new extension permits and expected to be ready this week to accept the first of what could be over 700 applications in the next few weeks. Government will be allowing employers to apply for TLEPs retroactively from one month before before the law was published in the gazette on 11 October.

As the TLEP only offers a further two year reprieve on rollover and does not qualify permit holders to apply for permanent residency, employers who still wish to apply for key employee status must do so before they reach the previous seven year work permit term. She said the law still remains that applications for key must be made before an employee has reached seven years.  The immigration boss said it will also be possible for an employer to apply for a TLEP for staff working by operation of law if a previous key employee application is refused.

Evans revealed that the application fee for a rollover suspension permit is CI$100 and the permit itself is the same amount as what would have been paid for a work permit in the same occupation, and anyone refused a TLEP will have the right of appeal. 

Although it is not yet clear how much extra work the latest immigration changes will mean for the department, staff recently engaged in a training exercise focused on internal change. These recent changes to the law come ahead of what is expected to be even more fundamental changes to immigration policy as government seeks a new solution to the country’s immigration dilemmas. A local corporate trainer recently prepared over 100 staff members to anticipate, monitor and adapt to change.

“Change is necessary to improve the department’s operations,” Evans said. “But we can only be successful if staff has been adequately prepared to cope. It is therefore critical that we invest in them as change agents, for they are our greatest asset.”

See amendments to law here

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Activists apply pressure over financial secrecy

| 18/10/2011 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Global Financial Integrity is just one of a number of organisations putting increasing pressure on Finance Ministers in G20 countries to move beyond “piecemeal regulations” and adopt comprehensive reforms to create greater transparency and accountability in the world’s financial system. In reaction to the recently released communiqué from the G20 meeting in Paris last week, GFI said it was disappointed and called for comprehensive measures that would increase overall transparency and accountability for multi-national corporations and financial institutions.

GFI said that there had been a strong contribution from civil society to the G20 process providing insight and feedback on the progress of both the development and anti-corruption working groups as well as the overall financial reform process.

Groups like the End Tax Haven Secrecy campaign have also provided mechanisms for citizens to speak-up and take action in this process. To date, more than 31,390 people have signed the global petition calling on the G20 to end tax haven secrecy when it meets next month in Cannes.

Anti-globalisation and anti-capitalist protesters are planning four days of demonstrations around the G20 leaders summit in Cannes next month despite a massive security operation to keep them out.

GFI director Raymond Baker said the finance minister’s communiqué ahead of Cannes failed to mention country-by-country reporting, automatic exchange of tax information, disclosure of beneficial ownership, or strengthening of anti-money-laundering laws. “These measures are key to creating global economic development, and financial stability. What we have here are piecemeal fixes to a systemic problem,” he added.

GFI notes some progress with the introduction of US legislation, including country-by-country reporting in the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act and beneficial ownership disclosure in the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act. “The G20 member nations should support these measures and adopt legislation similar to them in their own countries,” Baker said.

Among many other issues in the communiqué the ministers underlined the importance of comprehensive tax information exchange and encouraged the work in the Global Forum to assess and better define the means to improve it.

Anti-globalisation and anti-capitalist protesters are planning four days of demonstrations around the G20 leaders summit in Cannes next month despite a massive security operation to keep them out.

See G20 communiqué

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Minister goes ‘back to school’

| 18/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The education minister is back in the classroom this month on a tour of the country’s public schools in order to gather information about what is “happening on the ground,” Rolston Anglin said. The school visits provide him and government officials the opportunity to see both the good and bad regarding the results of policy decisions, implemented changes and outstanding issues that remain to be addressed. This year’s visits started at the Lighthouse School and have been followed by stops at Red Bay and East End Primary schools as well as Clifton Hunter High which as a result of delays to the new high school development projects is still sited on the old George Hicks Campus.

The Minister will continues his visits to other schools this week where the itinerary for each visit includes a tour of the school, separate meetings with the school’s senior management team and teaching staff.

“Visiting schools at the start of each school year gives me an opportunity to gather insights on what’s happening on the ground at schools and talk with teachers who are on the frontline daily,” Anglin stated in a release from government information services about the tours. “It comes down to seeing first hand all the good work that’s happening with our teachers in the classroom and giving them an opportunity to meet, voice their concerns and needs, and discuss areas they’d like the ministry to focus on,” he added.

This is the third year that the minister has set out to visit every school as the academic year starts.

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Cruise berthing – Downtown or Red Bay?

| 18/10/2011 | 102 Comments

I feel compelled to write to continue the public discussion on cruise berthing in Cayman. Once again, It seems that we are going forward with another major and costly project without the full knowledge of the pros and cons of all the options available to the country, obtained through intensive research and input from the populace.

For this reason a group of persons including myself have come together to obtain, collect and weigh all the possible factors, whether negative and positive, in an unbiased manner to hopefully identify the best solution for cruise berthing on Grand Cayman. For many years these islands have struggled with indecision and political posturing and we are now seeing the result of that, declining cruise arrivals and hence the closure of some downtown businesses.

We now have another opportunity to do the right thing and do it the right way.  These decisions should not be rushed just because we have an election coming up. The correct solution for these islands going into the future should be the only concern. What is the future of Cruise Tourism and its relevance to the Cayman economy? Where is the best location for these cruise berths? What form should they take? What is acceptable environmental damage? Will an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) be completed? What are the impacts onshore and how do we pay for those impacts? How many cruise passengers should we cater to? How should it be funded? Who should influence the decision of the politicians? Will it be good for30-50 years?

These are all questions that should not be from one political party or the other, but for all Caymanians to consider carefully and then influence the decision that will benefit the country for many years to come.

Our group, spearheaded by the leading Caymanian Seamen including the legendary Captain Arlin McCoy, has looked atsome of these questions to date and believe that Red Bay should certainly be considered when the other option is Hog Sty Bay.  We understand that Red Bay was identified from as far back as the late 1960s as a great potential but was not selected due to the cost at the time. Time has now come again to make a decision not just for the next four years but for the next 40 years and to overlook the possibility of creating a fully protected, expandable safe harbour in Grand Cayman should not be missed.

While the Downtown site has some port infrastructure, existing reef damage on the deep reefs and the existing retail investment, these must be contrasted with the total disruption of traffic, the destruction of the shallow snorkeling reefs and Balboa shipwreck, the continued and increasing conflict with cargo, the potential damage to Seven Mile Beach, the closure during northwesters, the proximity to the drop-off and the difficulty of building in very deep water all bring into question whether we are making a good decision for the country’s future placing a dock there. None of these issues seem to be under consideration as we rush to build there. We think they all should be considered and a rational decision made prior to investing hundreds of millions of Government money.

Our group shall be presenting a paper to Government to ask that Red Bay location be given serious consideration before we make an irreversible decision that is not in the overall best interest of these islands. I ask that should anyone have input as to either side that you email info@caymancruiseport.com.

This is not about any one person or special interest. We have one chance to get this correct and I suggest that full consideration be given to Red Bay as well. It is the least we can do for our country’s future and our children and their children.

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Registration open for Saturday’s CUC sea swim

| 18/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(CIASA): On the 22nd October CIASA will host its sixth sea swim event of the year, with the 23rd Annual CUC 800 Metre Sea Swim. The swim runs north, parallel to 7 Mile Beach starting at Governor’s Beach and ending at Public Beach. Registration is from 3:00-3:45p with the race starting at 4:00pm. Both competitive and non–competitive swimmers will find the race an enjoyable excuse to enjoy a leisurely swim in the Caribbean’s finest waters. CUC is proud to continue supporting Cayman Swimming and this swim has become the second biggest open water swim on the Cayman calendar behind the Flowers Sea Swim held in June every year.

The island’s top resident swimmer – Geoffrey Butler – hopes to defend his title but will have to contend with fellow competitors Alex McCallum and younger brother Simon.
Danielle Booth, Coral Tomascik and Lois Moody will not be far off the boys and hope to defend their titles of top females.

Trophies will be awarded for the top three male and female finishers in all age categories. Regardless of finishing position, every swimmer will get a tee shirt, refreshments and pizza at the end of the race. Participants in the sea swim will be required to wear distinctive CUC swim–caps, which will be provided upon registration, during the race.

Entry fees are CIASA members: CI$10.00 for children and CI$ 15.00 for adults; non-members: CI$15.00 for children and CI$ 20.00 for adults.

Online registration is available at www.caymanactive.com

 

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Local sailors take 2nd place in big boat regatta

| 18/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(CISC): PowerPlay skippered by Cayman Islands Sailing Club member, Peter Cunningham finished the 47th annual Rolex Big Boat Series regatta in San Franciscoin 2nd place in the IRC A Division. The regatta, a major event on the racing circuit and attracting America’s Cup veterans, was hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club from September 8 to 11, 2011. Racing in the IRC A Division and flying the Cayman Islands flag, PowerPlay was in fierce competition throughout the week with the other boats in its class, including the eventual winner, Vesper. (Photos Jane Moon)

Days 2 and 3 of racing proved to be some of the more memorable and physical days of racing, taking place in 20-25 knot winds consistently gusting to 30 knots.

The final day of racing brought sunshine and a single ‘Bay Tour’ distance race for all classes as well as a 9/11 tribute boat parade and canon salute before racing.

Commenting on the ‘Bay Tour’, Peter Cunningham said, “This has been more fun than other races. It was so close for us with Mayhem and the others, and these 52s make the Bay look small”. The class sailed 30 milesand Cunningham said there were some “interesting choices” on where to go. “We were first toBlossom Rock when the wind totally died with a 2-3 knot current and the whole fleet condensed,” said Cunningham. “We were ahead of Vesper and Mayhem, and I had déjà vu all over again: if you get caught in that current…it was classic San Francisco, everything can change so easily.”

PowerPlay Racing was founded earlier this year by Peter Cunningham. It has an international world-class crew, and sails PowerPlay, a TP52 sailboat.The boat has been admirably representing the Cayman Islands in regattas on the East and West Coast of the US. Powerplay finished 2nd in class in the New York Yacht Club cup, 3rd in Block Island Race Week and won the Alex Alessio regatta in San Francisco.

Cayman sailors in the crew have included the Commodore of the Cayman Islands Sailing Club, Andrew Moon, and fellow sailors: David Carmichael, Matt Diaz, Simon Farrington and Tomeaka McTaggart.

PowerPlay Racing has had an exciting schedule of regattas in 2011, mostly in the US and the Caribbean, and is focused on competing in Europe in 2012.

PowerPlay Racing's next events will be the Great Pumpkin Regatta in San Francisco (Oct. 29-30), the Wirth Monroe Race to Palm Beach in Florida (Dec. 2-4), and Key West Race Week in Florida (Jan. 16-20). For more information, photos, and to keep up to date with the team, please go to www.powerplay.ky.

 

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Teenagers get reprieve after Brac BB gun stunt

| 18/10/2011 | 29 Comments

(CNS): Three teens were discharged from court on Friday and a fourth given a year’s probation and placed under house curfew until after his exams next summer in connection with a BB gun stunt on Cayman Brac last year. The boys pleaded guilty to attempting to damage property, having admitted they were driving around firing at road signs with a spring loaded Colt BB air gun firing plastic pellets. The youngest boy also admitted possession of an imitation gun and firing it at a passer-by walking along the road side near the island's airport. The gun was not capable of causing any real injury or damage and the judge said he was “not prepared to saddle” three of the young men with a record as he discharged them from the court.

The 16-year-old boy, who was only fourteen at the time of the incident, admitted to firing the air gun at the random passer-by and received one year’s probation with a 7am to 7pm curfew, but the judge gave the teen a four hour pass on Saturday nights. Justice Alex Henderson indicated his actions were more serious than his peers and he also ordered that he not to be found in possession of any imitation weapons during the probation period or to consume alcohol or drugs.

The teen had admitted to being caught up in the bravado of the afternoon’s events when he made the mistake of putting the toy gun out of the window and firing at the passer-by from around 20 feet away but he did not understand the implications of what he had done until later, his defence attorney told the court.

The man was unhurt, but having seen what he believed to be a firearm pointed at him and then hearing the sound of the imitation weapon going off, he had been frightened and at first had believed he had been shot, the court heard during the sentencing hearing. 

The man had reported the incident to the police and described the car, which was discovered at one of the teen’s home shortly after the incident. The teenage boys all confessed to driving around firing at signs and revealed that the 14-year-old was the one with the BB gun that was fired at the passer-by. The imitation firearm was later recovered from the teen’s bedroom and was said to belong to his brother, who was not involved in the incident.

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Blackberry makes amends with free ‘apps’

| 18/10/2011 | 5 Comments

(CNS): Research In Motion (RIM) the operators of the Blackberry service is offering customers all over the world free apps (software applications) as a result of the global three day blackout which occurred to the service last week. RIM will be offering premium apps, worth in excess of US $100, free of charge to subscribers over thecoming weeks through the BlackBerry App World over the next few weeks beginning tomorrow (Wednesday 19 October).  The firm said the free apps were meant as an expression of appreciation to its customers for sticking with Blackberry during the disruption.

“Our global network supports the communications needs of more than 70 million customers,” said RIM Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis. “We truly appreciate and value our relationship with our customers.  We’ve worked hard to earn their trust over the past 12 years, and we’re committed to providing the high standard of reliability they expect, today and in the future.”

RIM’s enterprise customers will also be offered one month of free Technical Support.  Current customers will be offered a complimentary month extension and customers who don’t have support will be offered a one month trial of RIM’s BlackBerry Technical Support Services – Enhanced Support, free of charge. 

“We are grateful to our loyal BlackBerry customers for their patience,” added Lazaridis. “We have apologized to our customers and we will work tirelessly to restore their confidence.  We are taking immediate and aggressive steps to help prevent something like this from happening again.”

The complete selection of premium apps will become available to download at BlackBerry App World over a period of four weeks including –
• SIMS 3 – Electronic Arts
• Bejeweled – Electronic Arts
• N.O.V.A. – Gameloft
• Texas Hold’em Poker 2 – Gameloft
• Bubble Bash 2 – Gameloft
• Photo Editor Ultimate – Ice Cold Apps
• DriveSafe.ly Pro – iSpeech.org
• iSpeech Translator Pro – iSpeech.org
• Drive Safe.ly Enterprise – iSpeech.org
• Nobex Radio™ Premium – Nobex
• Shazam Encore – Shazam
• Vlingo Plus: Virtual Assistant – Vlingo

www.blackberry.com/enterpriseoffer.

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Clients can be protected from TIEAs, say trust experts

| 18/10/2011 | 3 Comments

(CNS): A panel of trust experts from Cayman, Guernsey, the UK, Switzerland and the Bahamas examined whether the right to privacy for trust clients could continue in light of the push by international bodies to live under regimes of disclosure during an industry conference last week where the issue of confidentiality was the top talking point for delegates. Despite the tax information agreements signed by offshore centres in recent years however, there were still ways that trust professionals could protect beneficiaries and confidentiality because of the hoops tax authorities needed to go through to extract information, the conference heard.

The central paradox for trustees, according to Shan Warnock-Smith QC, was how to reconcile the principles of confidentiality and disclosure, which were both expected to be observed by trust professionals. Warnock-Smith QC mediated a panel at Mourant Ozannes first conference of its kind last week where she described the issue as a balancing exercise.

Panelist Robert Shepherd from MourantOzannes in Guernsey said onshore governments’ requirement for money had resulted in the UK tax collectors beefing up their staff recruiting 2,200 more tax inspectors.  He said that the onshore governments have tried two ways to get at funds – by getting offshore institutions to disclose more and alternatively by circumventing offshore jurisdictions by getting investors onshore to tell them what they know.  Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) had been created by onshore governments to try and force offshore institutions to provide more information which would then bring in more money for them, Shepherd believed.

On the face of them TIEAs appeared “fearsome” with one tax authority forcing another to disclose information on foreign nationals, Shepherd noted, but actually there was a good deal that trust professionals could do to protect beneficiaries and honour obligations of confidentiality, citing a number of hoops that tax authorities needed togo through to extract information. For example, the onshore authority must initially identify the tax payer in question about whom they require the information and equally they must have exhausted all local powers to gain information first.

Julien Martel, from Butterfield in the Bahamas said that the issue about TIEAs was a “storm in a tea cup”and the issue did not come up frequently in conversation. He went on to say that the issue of confidentiality in the light of increasing burden of disclosure was actually a global issue and not just a question for international financial centres, which were in fact better positioned to deal with the conflict because of their flexibility.

Confidentiality was an issue for clients but it was not stopping business, he added.
Alan Milgate, from Rawlinson & Hunter in Cayman said that in certain cases trustees wanted to disclose specific information to beneficiaries and that it was the duty of the trustee to try and establish the costs and benefits for disclosing the information. Some beneficiaries were better able to process information than others, he said, and added that deciding how muchinformation to give out to beneficiaries was sometimes a difficult exercise, because not giving information bred suspicion. Effort needed to be put into explaining and planning the structure of a trust up front, he said.

Ziva Robertson from Withers said that there was a big difference between the political will to be seen to be creating TIEAs and the actual economic effect of their implementation.  She also said the situation could sometimes be exacerbated by instances of privacy laws which explicitly prevented a trustee from providing the beneficiary with information.  Trusts were becoming increasingly complex and often spanned a number of jurisdictions, with confidentiality meaning different things in different jurisdictions and meaning different things in times of war and in times of peace, she observed

 

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Anglin’s trial could prove expensive, says lawyer

| 18/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Defence counsel for Devon Anglin raised concerns on Friday following her client’s not guilty plea that delays to the start of his trial for the murder of Carlos Webster could prove expensive if lead counsel has to be kept in Cayman over the court’s Christmas break. Devon Anglin formally answered charges in the Grand Court to the fatal shooting of Webster in the Next Level night club on West Bay Road more than two years ago and his trial was set down to start on 1 December. Anglin’s attorney pointed out that the trial, which was originally scheduled for 28 November, was already very close to Christmas and a further three day delay could see the hearing broken by the holidays, leaving expensive decisions to be made over costs for the UK lawyer. (Photo courtesy of Cayman27)

Anglin is charged with shooting Webster, who died from a single gunshot wound to the head in the middle of a busy Seven Mile Beach nightclub in September 2009 in what police believe to be a gang related killing in connection with the West Bay feud between the Logwoods and Birch Tree Hill crews.

Lucy Organ of Samson McGraw objected to the prosecution counsel’s application for the three day delay made to the court by Elizabeth Lees from the public prosecutor’s office as she said the trial was already very close to the court’s Christmas closure. If the trial was not completed before the holidays then questions would arise over what should happen to the instructed leading counsel coming to defend the case from London, Organ noted, adding that the lawyer would either need to be kept on islands over the holidays or flown back home and back out again, either of which could prove expensive.

Crown counsel told the court that Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl Richards, QC, has had continued conduct of the case, which has considerable sensitivities because of an anonymous witness order, and it would not be possible for the office to instruct another leading counsel. Lees said that Richards was also forced to lead in a Grand Court appeal case that same week, which could not be moved as a result of accommodating not only the appeal court but also three different lawyers from overseas.

Lees also asked defence counsel to warn the court if the defendant was planning to elect a judge alone trial as the court would need to make special provision for the anonymity order should Anglin decide to by tried by a jury.

Organ pointed out to the court that such a decision would not to be made until 21 days before the start of the trial and her client needed to discuss the issue with his lead counsel.

Presiding judge, Justice Alex Henderson, allowed the delay and agreed that no decision on the mode of trial was required as it would be assumed, unless otherwise indicated by the defendant, that he would face a jury.

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