Archive for December 9th, 2011

Cops release acquitted man

| 09/12/2011 | 0 Comments

ozz douglas_0.JPG(CNS):  A police spokesperson has confirmed that the man arrested outside the courts following his successful appeal against his conviction for the murder of Omar Samuels has been now been released on police bail. Osbourne Douglas, who was freed by the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal on 29 November was immediately taken into custody before he had chance to leave the court house in the wake of his acquittal in connection with the murder of Jason Christian and attempted murder of Keith Montague in September. Sources tell CNS that the police believe Douglas used a cell phone from inside the prison to lure Montague to the location where the two men were shot.

Police arrested Douglas minutes after he was released by the appeal court after the three judge panel had quashed his murder conviction alongwith the convictions of his co-defendants Brandon Leslie-Ebanks and Patrick McField. The appeal court judges had set aside the life sentences and all three men were released after serving more than two years in prison.

However, as Douglas began to leave the court alongside Leslie and McField he was immediately arrested by officers from the RCIPS for conspiracy to commit murder in connection with what police believe is a gang related killing which took place in Cranbrook Drive off Crewe Road in George Town in September.

Although Douglas was in Northward at the time of the attempted murder of Montague and the murder of Christian police believe Douglas sent text messages to Montague directing him to go to the address where the men were shot. When Montague and Christian arrived at the location in a white van police believe the gun men ambushed them and opened fire as they remained inside the vehicle. 19 year old Christian’s body was found sitting in the driver’s seat with a firearm which had not been fired sitting beside him.

Montague, who despite receiving four gunshot wounds, managed to stumble into the next street where he flagged down a police patrol car. He was taken to George Town hospital before being airlifted overseas where police have confirmed he is still recovering.

While police believe that there was more than one gun man involved in the Crewe Road shooting but no one else has been arrested in connection with the killing and no charges have been laid against Douglas.

Meanwhile, Brandon Leslie one of Douglas’s co-defendants in the Samuels case enjoyed only a few days of freedom. He was arrested by officials in Miami as he tried to return to Florida where he is now a resident before he was arrested in Cayman while he was visiting family in 2009. Leslie was arrested by law enforcement on the aircraft in connection with a gun smuggling incident in 2008 where several guns were exported from the US to Cayman inside a refrigerator, and he remains in custody.

Michael Timothy Ebanks was arrested, charged and convicted of a smuggling when he tried to collect the fridge which was sent to him from the US after an inspection revealed the door panel contained an AK–47 magazine, one Mach 10 magazine, two Smith and Wesson handguns, a Titan Tiger handgun, a Taurus .45 handgun and a quantity of ammunition.

Ebanks pleaded guilty as he admitted that one of the guns was meant for his own use as he needed it for protection and was sentenced to five years imprisonment in November 2009.

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Bush urged to step down

| 09/12/2011 | 90 Comments

_DEW2462.jpg(CNS): As the local Anti-corruption Commission calls on government, the private sector, NGOs and the media to join forces and eradicate the crime on Anti-Corruption Today (ACT), MLA Ezzard Miller has once again called on the premier to resign from office until the police investigation regarding accusations of financial irregularities is resolved. While the commission issued a poster asking Cayman to “act against corruption”, the independent member for North Side said this would be an appropriate day for McKeeva Bush to volunteer to step aside as premier or for his United Democratic Party colleagues to demand he resign before the UK intervenes. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

“Today being Anti-corruption Day, I repeat and urge the premier to step aside or be forced to do so by his party until the police investigation into these financial irregularities is concluded,” Miller pleaded, as he warned that Cayman did not want the UK to be the ones to force the issue.

“Everyone seems to be waiting for the UK to do something but that is not the outcome we want. We as Caymanians should deal with this. We do not want a repeat of the Turks and Caicos situation and have our constitution suspended,” Miller added.

It is still not clear if the letter sent by McKeeva Bush to developer Stan Thomas asking for $350,000 in connection with the re-zoning of land, which the governor has said is at the heart of the investigation into Bush regarding “financial irregularities”, is being conducted by the commission’s officers or other members of the police service. The letter was sent by Bush to Thomas from his then ministry’s fax machine in October 2004, some seven years before the anti-corruption law was enacted. CNS has contacted Police Commissioner David Baines, who is also chair of the Anti-corruption Commission (ACC), regarding the investigation and is awaiting a response. Other sources have confirmed recently that the investigation is continuing.

Since its creation in May of this year, the ACC has maintained an exceptionally low profile. Its call to action in a poster created to mark the international day against corruption, Anti-Corruption Today (ACT), is one of the first public communication efforts the commission has ever made. The poster states that corruption undermines democracy, as well as the rule of law and leads to human rights violations.

Despite indications from Baines that an education campaign about the commission’s work would get underway this year, so far the body has continued to remain relatively silent about its work and its own efforts to fight corruption.

The first charges brought against anyone under the law, which came into effect in January this year, were made last month against a civilian working for the RCIPS. Patricia Webster has been accused of abusing confidential police data, which has resulted in two counts of abuse of public office and two charges of misconduct in a public office contrary to section 17 of the anti-corruption law 2008.

A former member of the National Housing and Development Trust Board and a prominent UDP official was also arrested under the law in October, accused of abusing his position on the board relating to the sale of insurance policies to the buyers of the low cost government built homes but he has not been charged with any offences. Police confirmed that he was arrested under the anti-corruption legislation as well as for deception offences.

No other details have been revealed of the commission’s work or that of its serving officers, including Detective Inspector Richard Oliver, a former member of the infamous UK’s Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT) of Operation Tempura and Cealt, which was operated in Cayman between 2007 and 2009 reportedly investigating police corruption.

According to minutes posted on the commission’s website, legal counsel to the body, John Masters, had written to the governor and the attorney general regarding “the lack of resources the commission has faced since its inception” and the related concerns. The minutes also reveal that an annual report has been produce by the commission and given to the governor but it has not been made public.

Go to commission website here

See poster below.

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FATCA tsunami about to hit

| 09/12/2011 | 0 Comments

financial tsunami.jpg(CNS Business): There is time, but not much, for funds to become compliant with the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and, if they haven’t done so already, funds had better start putting in place policies which will deal with all the issues likely to arise from its implementation, according to a report in the latest AIMA Journal. The US government has already reached agreement on nearly US$1 billion in settlements from large foreign banks who were allegedly assisting US nationals in hiding assets and the IRS believes this is the tip of the iceberg, according to David Conen of KPMG Cayman. He said that given the scope of possible new requirements, comparing FATCA to a tsunami is a fair analogy. Read more on CNS Business

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Cayman’s UK peer brought into question

| 09/12/2011 | 19 Comments

_51613246_-7.jpg(CNS): The appointment of the British Conservative peer Lord Blencathra to the Cayman Islands London office in order to lobby on behalf of the financial services sector has been called into question in the UK’s House of Commons. According to records in the UK, opposition Labour MP Maria Eagle has queried how a serving Conservative peer could have been appointed as the representative for the Cayman Islands to oppose further regulation of what she called offshore tax havens when there was an urgent need for tough regulations of such jurisdictions.  She also noted that in opposition the UK Prime Minister had raised concerns about the “potential scandal” relating to lobbyists.

Last month the labour MP asked the government front bench to reveal its position on serving Conservative lords lobbying against the regulation in light of David Cameron’s promise to regulate lobbying and create a register of lobbying interests.

On behalf of the government, George Young revealed that the coalition was committed to introducing the register and consultation was due to begin shortly but made no comment on the appointment of the former Tory chief whip, David MacLean, as director of Cayman’s London office. He was appointed to the House of Lords earlier this year after he chose not to fight to retain his seat in the 2010 election as a result of worsening health.

During the MPs expenses scandal it was revealed that Maclean spent more than £20,000 improving his farmhouse under the Additional Costs Allowance (ACA) scheme before selling it for £750,000.

He claimed the money by designating the property as his “second home” with the Commons authorities, yet Maclean did not pay capital gains tax on the sale because the taxman accepted it was his main home. MacLean was one of 98 MPs who voted to keep their expense details secret. In 2007 he introduced a private members bill to exempted MPs from the UK’s Freedom of Information Act.

McLean was appointed to serve as the Cayman’s UK representative last month by Cayman Premier McKeeva Bush, who said it was vital that Cayman has astrong voice in Westminster and McLean would ensure the islands’ interests were protected at a time when Cayman was the subject of “malicious and ill-informed attacks”.

The Tory peer said at the time that a major part of his job would be to persuade Britain and Europe that allowing the Cayman Islands to maintain its leading position in world finance was vital to the vCity and the UK economy.

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UN debates independence resolution

| 09/12/2011 | 12 Comments

(Bernews): The United Nations General Assembly  in New York will today [Dec.9] discuss a draft resolution reaffirming the incompatibility of any form and manifestation of colonialism, including economic exploitation, with the international organisation’s charter. Bermuda is on the official list of colonial territories being discussed as well as Anguilla, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Turks and Caicos, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, St. Helena, Gibraltar and Pitcairn, all under British Overseas Territories. The US Virgin Islands also appears along with Guam and American Samoa [US administered], New Caledonia [French], Tokelau [New Zealand] and Western Sahara [former Spanish colony occupied by Morocco].

The initiative was proposed last month by the Special Political and Decolonisation Committee of the UN with the title “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.”

Go to article

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Police warn parents to watch kids during school break

| 09/12/2011 | 12 Comments

normal_normal_PB7415_1.jpg(CNS): As part of the personal safety element of this year’s police initiative, Operation Christmas Cracker the RCIPS is warning parents, guardians and carers to keep close supervision over kids this year when the school break starts otherwise they could face hefty fines. The Family Support Unit said they need to make sure that they know where their children are, and that they are appropriately supervised. Officers from the unit say that it is becoming increasingly common for parents to leave children unsupervised for long periods but the law required parents and guardians to take responsibility.

“In recent times we have had reports of parents leaving their children unsupervised at libraries and in other places for long periods of time during the school holidays,” said Inspector Christsandra Mitchell. “As part of the holiday safety initiative – Operation Christmas Cracker – we are reminding people that they need to make appropriate arrangements for their children during the holidays, or face the consequences.
“The law is quite clear in that you, as a parent or carer, have responsibility for your child. If you do not supervise him or her appropriately you could face a hefty fine or a prison sentence.”

Inspector Mitchell advised parents to make sure they always know where their children are and who is supervising them and unattended either at home, in public places or in vehicles.

If children are going to sleepovers parents need to know where the kids will be staying and who will be supervising them.

She also reminded parents to be vigilant about their children’s surroundings and of any unwelcome or unusual attention from others and to teach them the importance of saying ‘no’ and not accepting any gifts or rides from strangers. Be aware of any changes in your child’s behaviour, the police officer advised adding that this may be an indication that something is troubling him or her.

Inspector Mitchell also advised monitoring children’s access to internet and cell phones and to talk to them about the dangers of drink and drugs and to be involved in their activities.

If anyone wishes to speak to an officer from the Family Support Unit about children’s safety they should call 946-9185.

Operation Christmas Cracker began on 28 November 2011 and will run until 4 January 2012. This comprehensive safety drive will cover road safety, personal safety, home and business security and safety at sea.
 

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Liquor law changing for NYE

| 09/12/2011 | 70 Comments

new-years-eve (284x300).jpg(CNS): Bill now attached — The New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cayman may go on for longer than expected when the islands welcome in 2012 as government plans to amend the necessary legislation in order to allow local bars and restaurants to serve alcohol and play music past midnight, even though the celebrations fall on a Saturday night, Sunday morning. In the past when NYE has fallen on a Saturday, restaurants, bars and clubs have had to stop playing music and stop serving booze before midnight in order to comply with the law which prevents all license premises from playing live music and allowing people to dance on Sundays.

Although government has not yet confirmed the legislative amendments sources tell CNS that Cabinet has approved the change which will allow the liquor licensing board to grant extensions to license holders for the 2012 holiday celebrations even when they fall on a Saturday nights.

Chair of the liquor licensing board, Mitchel Welds, told CNS Thursday that although he was aware of representations having been made to government with regard to lifting the Saturday night restrictions in order to accommodate the NYE celebrations, he had not yet received any confirmation that the necessary amendments which he said would need to go to the Legislative Assembly, had been approved.

Weld did say however that there was provision in the law to allow the liquor licensing board to convene outside its usual quarterly meeting. If government goes ahead with the changes he said the board could meet to hear applications for extensions.
Until government makes the change however, Welds said there was no way for the board to be able to grant extensions on Saturday nights.  Said that hotels who are holding parties for guests only can continue to play music and serve drink as a result of an existing exemption but any parties open to the public even in the hotels have to stop before midnight.

The Cayman Islands Tourism Association said some of its member had lobbied very hard this year to get government to make an exception to the usual requirements regarding the music and dance law on Saturday night Sunday morning given the importance to the sector of New Year’s Eve.

Trina Savage-Christian said that almost since the beginning of this year the issue had been raised by the association’s restaurant owners when they realized the calendar was against them. 

“Given the state of the economy we should not be hindering business for any reason,” she said. “But also we don’t want people to leave Cayman with a bad impression as guests have certain expectations when they come to a modern developed resort such as the Cayman Islands.”

The CITA executive pointed out how many people visiting for the holidays would not know about the law and may be surprisedand disappointed something that could spread easily on the net and have a negative impact. “We need to be accommodating,” Savage-Christian said as she welcomed the news that government appears to be addressing the problem.

She also said a lot of businesses were holding off on booking bands and entertainment for the event as a result of the uncertainty. She said the news should generate some activity and perk up the tourism sector in general.

New Year’s Eve is a potentially very lucrative evening for the restaurant trade in particular and she pointed out that given the long slow season this year local business would be depending on a good holiday season to make up for the tough year.

NYE is the most profitable night of the year for restaurants and bars with owners making a significant percentage of their profits for the whole year on the one night. Cutting off sales at midnight would be a serious blow to an already struggling sector.

 

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Groupers live to spawn another day

| 09/12/2011 | 57 Comments

grouper face_0.jpg(CNS): The Marine Conservation Board has published a notice on the government’s gazette website announcing the extension of the grouper fishing ban in spawning areas during the spawning season. The ban has been extended for a further eight years giving the endangered fish an opportunity to continue their recovery. The extension will be welcome by the myriad groups that worked alongside the Department of Environment in order to secure an extension to the ban which was due to expire this month. The replenishment of grouper populations is a slow process and the DoE has stated that the continuation of the ban was necessary to ensure that the last viable spawning aggregation (SPAG) site in the Cayman Islands, located in the West End of Little Cayman, did not collapse.

The grouper holes were first closed in 2003 in what was planned to be alternate years of being open for fishing. However, the scientists determined that it was mathematically impossible for the population to replenish itself if large numbers of fish, especially the big spawners, were killed.

The Marine Conservation Board therefore imposed an eight year ban on all grouper spawning sites to give the Nassau grouper a chance to recover, which was due to expire at the end of this year. However, the numbers of spawning groupers have grown only by about 1500 fish. The average size is dropping and they are seeing more of the younger “teenage” fish, though there are still the larger fish, who, scientists have found, are needed to guide the younger fish to the SPAG.

Line fishing of grouper outside the spawning sites is allowed and the Department of Environment has said that 20% of the tagged groupers had been lost outside the area, and they estimate that roughly this proportion of the total population is being fished this way.

Regardless of the wealth of scientific evidence that supports the continued ban, Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor Connolly, who is 2nd elected member for the Sister Islands, has publicly stated that she is against it and added her signature to a letter drafted by the fishermen of her constituency in March this year addressed to the members of the Legislative Assembly, the Department of Environment and the Marine Conservation Board, saying they “strongly oppose any further extension of the prohibition on fishing in the designated grouper spawning areas” but that they supported a catch limit of 12 groupers per boat per day.

Mark Scotland, who is the minister with responsibility for the environment, has made no public comment about the extension of the ban.

See notice here

The Grouper Moon Project

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