Archive for January 26th, 2012

Police repeat call for information on Anna a year on

| 26/01/2012 | 8 Comments

Anna Evans.jpg(CNS): Updated – It is one year since landfill worker Anna Evans disappeared and her colleagues will be holding a special remembrance service for the mother of five who has not been seen since lunchtime on 27 January 2011 today. Despite the launch of a full scale search which included overseas experts there has been no sign of the 38 year old woman or any indication of what might have happened to her. The officer in charge of the enquiry again appealed to the public, Friday. Detective Chief Inspector Mike Cranswick has spent the last 12 months leading a team of officers dedicated to finding out what happened to Anna, and finding answers for her grief-stricken family, the polcie said.

Intensive searches of the landfill site and surrounding land and waterways by police, specialist dogs from the US, family members and hundreds of volunteers, no trace of Anna has been found. In addition, a CI $50,000 reward was announced by DMS broadcasting in the weeks following Anna’s disappearance, but as yet this has not yielded any positive leads.

“I would ask anyone who has any information about what happened to Anna, and has not yet come forward,  to contact us,” said DCI Cranswick. “A year has passed but it’s not too late to help us bring some much needed answers to her family, particularly her five children. Every day since Anna was reported missing has been difficult for them, but today the anniversary of her disappearance, will be particularly hard for them.”

When last seen Anna, who is described as being 5’7” in height with a dark complexion, slim build, brown eyes and black hair was wearing her DEH uniform – grey pants, a grey and orange shirt, brown boots and a plain blue baseball cap.

Officials from the department of environmental health said that to facilitate this special service on Friday, the main North Sound Rd office, the George Town Landfill, and the Solid Waste dispatch offices will be closed from 8:30 am until 1pm tomorrow (Friday 27 January).

The Grand Cayman facilities will re-open at 1 pm Friday afternoon and staff are asking the public for their cooperation. Businesses that need to dispose of large amounts of waste are asked to do so early in the morning or after 1 pm on Friday. However, the 24 hour drop-off area will remain open to facilitate disposal of small residential loads.

Anyone who has information which could assist the enquiry team has a number of ways to pass the information to the RCIPS :The dedicated enquiry hotline -526-0911, George Town CID – 949-4222, RCIPS tip-line -949-7777 and the  Confidential Crime Stoppers number – 800-8477 (TIPS)

 

 

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CEC benefits will be indirect

| 26/01/2012 | 83 Comments

blick_0.JPG(CNS): The much anticipated techy park being developed by Cayman Enterprise City in the area of Savannah will, officials say, provide more indirect benefits to the public purse than direct fees. The CEO of the islands' first special economic zone, Jason Blick, said it was the people who would be brought here to work for the zone’s tenants that would boost government coffers by their spending and use of local services rather than through the usual fees businesses are required to pay. Tenants in the CEC will not have to pay duty on the items they import, trade and business or company license fees, and they will also be exempt from work permits for their staff or the need to provide business staffing plans.

Under the terms of the deal that government made with CEC and under the new special economic zone law which emerged as a result, it will pay government a flat fee of $1500 for every foreign worker in the zone, regardless of their position, for a five year employee certificate. No other fees, duties or taxes will be collected by government from the tenants of the zone.

Speaking at the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce’s latest “Be informed” meeting on Wednesday afternoon, Blick explained to a packed conference room that the tenants of the zone would pay a flat fee to CEC and not to government for their offices and all the other services provided in the business zone, and from that CEC would pass the per head employee certificate fee to government.

However, with no company registration fees, trade and business license or duty on the equipment that the companies in the zone will import for use in their business, the benefit to the country will be the duty government collects on what the zone’s workers spend outside their offices. In other words, the resulting population increase will generate more consumption and with it business for locals and duty to the public purse, Blick claimed.

Answering a number of questions about the project, Blick denied that the zone was just a commercial plaza and the CEC merely a landlord who could offer excellent concessions to tenants not available to other landlords and commercial developments.

“That is an over simplification,” Blick said, despite acknowledging that at its simplest the zone was offering bespoke office accommodation for an all-inclusive rate. He added that CEC would provide people in the zone with specialist services and described it as a business incubation centre. Blick said it was a major concern for the owners of CEC to deliver the message of why it was different from any other commercial development and why it was suchan enormous benefit to Cayman.

The CEO said that there would be a careers bureau on the site but he admitted there was no obligation under the law created to ring-fence the zone for any of CEC’s tenants to employ any Caymanians. Nor will employers in the park be required to advertise any of the posts locally and they will be free to bring staff from overseas.

Blick said the first tenants would be moving into what he termed gateway accommodation next month, and although they would not be physically in the ‘zone’ until the offices are completed sometime next year, the principles governing the zone would apply to what will be the “zone” companies immediately. He said that eight technology companies had signed up for the park and they would be housed in the interim at empty offices around the island, such as the HSBC Centre and the Grand Pavilion.

When the development begins in the second quarter of this year, which Blick said the company was obliged to begin as part of its agreement with government to establish the zone, CEC, as the developers, would be paying stamp duty, planning fees and duty on all materials to construct the various technology campuses in Savannah. He said local sub-contractors would be employed to do that work, which would be another direct benefit to the country. Once completed, however, further benefits would come from the increase in people, new firms and technologies on island and the training opportunities they would bring, he explained.

He said the returns to the Cayman purse, which had been calculated by KPMG in a report commissioned by CEC, would be significant but he said that report would not be a public document. Blick stated that there would be an eventual contribution to the country’s GDP of $½ billion. 

Blick was also quizzed about the owners and investors in CEC but he remained tight lipped, revealing only that is was majority owned by Caymanians. Asked directly if the Hon development company had any remaining interest in the firm, Blick refused to be drawn as he said it was not relevant, and would not answer. Although Hon had been the original main investors in CEC, it is understood that the developers withdrew from the project but no explanation for their decision to pull out has ever been revealed.

Speaking to CNS after the presentation, Blick said it was difficult to deliver the message of just how beneficial the specialist zone would be to the country at large, and short of taking people to Dubai where there are existing extremely successful zones, it would be a matter of time before people began to realize the benefits.

Blick said, however, that the financial services sector was embracing the concept because although the companies in the zone would have access to far greater concessions than existing Cayman firms, it would be the clients of Cayman’s offshore industry that would be relocating to the zone.

“Every single law firm we have spoken to embraces this as they have said it has been needed for a long time as they have clients waiting to come to Cayman,” he told CNS, adding that offshore firms are desperate for the project as they have many clients that would have relocated to Cayman years ago but the existing regime was not attractive enough. Local firms will now be able to service their clients here on island, he explained, suggesting that the zone could act as a magnet for the elusive but much wanted physical presence.

He said the zone was welcomed by the private sector as well as government because it would create jobs, even though there was no obligation on the part of the zone tenants to employ local people. He said there would be fantastic opportunities for Caymanians as it was a “carrot approach” rather than the stick approach of the existing regime.

For more details on the zone see the CEC Website and see details of the legislation here.

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Schools aim to build a Cayman workforce

| 26/01/2012 | 0 Comments

rolly2.jpg(CNS Business): With the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre into its second year, Minister of Education Rolston Anglin has this message for those in the community who continue to call for the establishment of a trade school: the ministry is “well on the way” to providing vocational training and CIFEC is only going to get better. Others in the ministry are equally enthusiastic about the prospects for expanding vocational courses in Cayman and what that means for employment prospects for young Caymanians entering the workforce. The key is for the vocational education system to train students in areas with employment possibilities by consulting with local industry totarget the appropriate sectors. Read more on CNS Business

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Police issue wanted alert for community heroes

| 26/01/2012 | 7 Comments

Heroes-WANTED.jpg(CNS): Officers from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service are hunting for people who have gone that extra mile to keep the Cayman Islands safe. The public are being asked to remain vigilant and report sightings of possible community heroes to the police. Nominations are now being accepted for the 2012 RCIPS Community Award which will be presented at a police awards event at the Ritz-Carlton in March. Last year (2011) the winners were the staff of the Caribbean Club for their part in the apprehension of two men on their premises with a firearm.

"The inaugural Outstanding Service Awards in 2011 was a huge success,” said Police Commissioner David Baines. “The event was completely underwritten by business, corporate and individual sponsorship. It was a sell-out as people came out in their hundreds to support the men and women of the RCIPS, and those in our community who go that extra mile to help keep Cayman safe.

“I’m delighted to be able to say that the Police Welfare Fund benefitted to the tune of $50,000 as a result of the evening and the generosity of our sponsors.
“It was a great pleasure for me to be able to celebrate the many positive aspects of policing and community involvement in the Cayman Islands. I hope that this year, once again, we will receive many nominations naming those very special people within our community who deserve to be recognised for their outstanding contribution.”

The Award is open to people or organisations that have made an outstanding contribution to community safety. It is the second year that the award will have been presented. Nomination forms are available at all district police stations or via the RCIPS website www.rcips.ky. Nominations close on Friday 10 February 2012.

There will be a number of other awards presented on the night;

Police Officer of the Year
Support Staff Member of the Year
Diversity Award
Police Welfare Award
Special Constable of the Year

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Witness accused of jealousy

| 26/01/2012 | 0 Comments

jeffers_0.jpg(CNS): The crown’s key witness in the trial of Raziel Jeffers for the murder of Marcus Ebanks was described in court as “a jealous woman” who was lying about an alleged confession. During cross examination by the defendant’s attorney on Wednesday in the Grand Court the teen witness, who turned 20 on Thursday, was described as a “professional witness of untruth” who had since she was 14 associated with a number of known gang members. Jeffers lawyer, Peter Champagnie, attacked the witness’s credibility and pointed to the numerous lies she had told to the police before coming with her confession story and what he described as her “everything is true” statement.

Megan Martinez, who is the mother of one of Jeffers' children, told the police shortly after the couple parted company after a tumultuous and violent relationship that the defendant had confessed to her that he was one of the masked men who had gunned down a group of young people in a yard in West Bay in 2009. Martinez told police that Jeffers had told her that he had gone into the yard and zoned in on 20-year-old Marcus Ebanks, whom he shot by mistake as he believed it was his gang rival Jose Sanchez.

However, the attorney accused her of lying and only producing the alleged confession as a result of her jealousy after her former lover had taken up with other women. He said that at the time she was “overcome with jealousy”, which is what had motivated her to lie about the confession she said Jeffers had made to the crime.

It was revealed that Martinez had given a total of eleven statements to the police, two of which she had admitted were fabrications. These were given soon after the shooting at Bonaventure and she said were as a result of what Jeffers had told her to say.

The others, however, were given to visiting officers from the UK when she was given protection. In these statements Martinez claimed that Jeffers had confessed to her not only about the Bonaventure killings but other murders as well. She also spoke of the array of weaponry she had seen in the possession of her former lover and father of her baby.

She denied lying about the confessions and said she was not jealous and her decision to tell the police all that she knew was in an effort to protect her son.

Probed about the many lies she had told and then her decision to come forward so long after the murders, Martinez revealed her distrust of the police and said her former lover had connections with the police. The teen mother told the court that on one occasion before she revealed the details of what she knew she had gone to the police station in George Town, having been beaten by Jeffers and prepared to tell all, but she said the officer on the reception desk, who was a friend of Jeffers, and called him and told him that she was at the station.

The witness denied lying about the confessions Jeffers had made and admitted that while her relationship with Jeffers was not based on trust, there had been good times, and despite the lawyers claims that she was an unlikely person for Jeffers to confide in, she said that was not the case as there were times when he had told her “private things”.

Accused of having more than 14 gangster lovers, including Damion Ming, who was shot and killed in a West Bay Yard in March 2010, the witness emphatically denied this and admitted only to having a sexual relationship with Robert Bush and Jeffers. The lawyer listed a number of men he said had been her boyfriends and who had faced gun related issues, but she said this was not true and they were friends.

The witness concluded her evidence on Wednesday afternoon and the case will continue Thursday with telephone evidence that the crown says tracks Jeffers movement on the night three men were shot at Joseph Hurlston’s home in Bonaventure road.  Jeffers is accused of being one of two masked gunmen who opened fire on a group of men at the house in the early evening of 8 July 2009.

Marcus Ebanks was shot dead, while 14-year-old Adryan Powell, who received multiple gunshot wounds, was paralysed and Marcus’ 18-yearold brother also received several gunshot wounds from which he eventually recovered.

The crown claim that earlier in the evening Jeffers had travelled to Scranton in George Town with a man named Ozzy where they had collected the guns before returning to West Bay with the intention of killing Jose Sanchez, who was in the yard that evening but escaped the gun fire when he hid inside Hurlston’s house.

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New civil service bosses named

| 26/01/2012 | 26 Comments

Stran Bodden - (238x300).jpg(CNS): Stran Bodden (left), Eric Bush (below right) and Alan Jones (below left) have all been promoted to chief officers to step into three vacant top government jobs. Bodden will take over as chief officer in the Ministry of Finance, Development & Tourism, dealing with tourism and development, replacing Carson Ebanks who recently retired; Bush will take over as chief officer for the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, replacing Franz Manderson when he takes up his new role of deputy governor on 1 February; and Jones will step into Kearney Gomez’ shoes at the Ministry of District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture.

Appointed by Manderson, the three men will all take up their positions on 1 February 2012. The top civil servants all secured their new jobs via a new recruitment process created by the deputy governor in waiting using an assessment centre approach. The essential competencies required for the posts were established and these were tested by on-line assessments, a written exam and an interview. Fifty-one people applied for the three posts and as part of an open recruitment process twelve candidates were shortlisted.

DSC_4600edit (252x300).jpg“All candidates were subjected to a day of tests and assessments. The Portfolio of the Civil Service administered the on-line tests that assessed cognitive ability, emotional intelligence and learning agility,” officials from the portfolio said in a release.

The candidates also undertook an examination which consisted of three separate scenarios that had to be completed in a defined period. These tasks reflected what would actually be expected of a chief officer. The applicants then appeared in front of a panel and were asked to deliver a speech which they had prepared previously and were then interviewed by Manderson (Chairman); Sophia Harris, Managing Partner of Solomon Harris; Jude Scott, CEO of Maples; and Peter Gough, Strategic Advisor to the Deputy Governor.

Alan-01 (235x300).jpgManderson explained why he opted for the rigorous appointment process, which will now be used for all top government jobs.

“I was exposed to the assessment centre process during my recent visit to the United Kingdom and decided to introduce a similar model in Cayman,” he said. “I felt that it was important to introduce an open and transparent process for these key appointments, I intend to use this approach in the future for senior posts in Government.

“I welcome Alan, Eric and Stran to the post of chief office. They can be justly proud of their performance throughout their career and at the assessment centre. I am very fortunate to be in a position to choose three chief officers to support me in my new role as deputy governor as we tackle the many challenges facing the civil service today.”

Government officials have not yet stated if there has been any change in the circumstances relating to two other senior officers who were placed on paid leave when the current UDP administration took office.

In June during Finance Committee it was confirmed that Diane Montoya, the former chief officer in the health ministry, and Deborah Drummond, who was deputy financial secretary in the previous administration when the financial secretary was a separate executive Cabinet post, were still being paid from the public purse but had not been given new permanent posts. Angela Martins, who was the civil service boss in the education department and the third top government worker placed on leave, had opted to take early retirement.

In a further statement to the LA in August Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks had confirmed that the two women were still on leave. Since then there have been no further announcements about their situations being resolved.

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Motorcycle smash cause of West Bay Road shut-down

| 26/01/2012 | 11 Comments

(CNS): Police were forced to close the West Bay Road close to Tiki Beach for a short time on Wednesday afternoon following a road smash involving a van and a motorcycle. The collision was reported to police around 3pm in the afternoon after the motorcycle was hit by what was believed to be a van. The rider was taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital where he was treated for an arm injury. No-one else was injured in the collision and police said that enquiries into the cause of the collision are on-going.

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More immigration changes

| 26/01/2012 | 40 Comments

(immigration office_0.jpgCNS): In what will be government's fifth amendment to the immigration law since it took office, the next set of changes will address a variety of issues, from making it easier for the grandchildren of Caymanians living overseas to claim status to the introduction of a visitors work visa. Government says the changes are aimed at promoting inward investment by offering residency to the wealthy, assisting local businesses by introducing streamlined entry procedures and addressing anomalies in relation to caregivers’ certificates. It also says changes to the Immigration Appeals Tribunal will help reduce the backlog but those changes in particular may give significant cause for concern to employers and employees.

When the Legislative Assembly next resumes the premier is expected to bring the amendments that will see the number of people who can sit as tribunal chairs increased from two to five and the membership from 12 people to an undefined panel of persons.

Despite the increase in potential people that can sit on a tribunal, the quorum has been reduced from five to only two people plus the chair, leaving as few as three people to have the final sayon disputed immigration decisions.

According to Ezzard Miller, the independent member for North Side, government has also removed the requirement to take minutes at tribunals, which he says could have serious implications especially for future freedom of information requests by people affected by closed door decisions.

He said the new law has been changed from “the secretary shall be required” to keep the minutes to “may record”, leading to the obvious conclusion that it will be possible now for three people behind closed doors to may key decisions with no written record. Describing the move as “extremely alarming”, Miller expressed his concern over the changes, which he could not support.

“This is preposterous,” he said. “You must have a record for an appeals process when a decision made by the immigration board could be reversed by as little as two people. Not to have a record of the what, when and why of that decision is an outrage.”

The law includes many different changes, including the offer of residency rights to people setting up businesses in Cayman with a workforce of now 30% Cayman employees, down from 50% Caymanians, as well as allowing people of independent means who have received residency rights based on a private income of more than $150,000 to work in specified occupations.

Overseas investors with 10% ownership or more in as yet unspecified approved category of businesses or who is a senior manager in an approved business will also be offered access to permanent residency.

The law also removes the long term residency requirement for the descendants of Caymanians born overseas, making it easier for those with Caymanian grandparents to get status. In addition, the bill addresses the problems faced by sports fishermen, making clearance easier for those going on long expeditions for recreational fishing.

Although government is bringing a long list of changes with this amendment bill, Miller said he was disappointed that there is still no sign of what government proposes to do about the one main issue that it says it wants to change, which is rollover.

“This is Immigration amendment number five but the main issue of rollover has not been addressed,’ he said. “We still don't know what they are considering and we haven’t seen any details of the proposals to replace the term limit, despite its significance. We would have expected that the next major immigration amendment, as this is, would have addressed the issue. It’s what everyone wants settled,” Miller added.

See immigration amendment bill no 5 below.

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