Archive for April 12th, 2012

Minister confirms sex-offender worked at school

| 12/04/2012 | 8 Comments

rolston good.jpg(CNS): An investigation by the education ministry revealed that for nine days last summer a convicted sex offender was working on a government school campus for a subcontractor. Following an article on CNS last week that raised the issue, the minister told the Legislative Assembly that the man was on site for three and a half days when students were in the school but in a construction zone isolated from the rest of the campus and his remaining time there was spent when students were not at school. Rolston Anglin said that no complaints had been received but he revealed immediate measures to prevent the situation happening again.

In a statement on Wednesday Anglin said the education department already has a number of protocols in place but he would be mandating police checks for all contracted services and construction workers on the school sites. He also said that construction workers are not permitted to enter a school site without express approval by a project manager or school leader.

In the interest of strengthening the existing system the minister said with immediate effect moremeasures would be introduced for the safety and protection of students. He said all construction contractors engaged in current projects would be required to meet the new safety measures and all volunteers whether on school sites or not would also be required to supply police checks.

“The ministry will also immediately begin the process of developing regulations under the education law to extend and strengthen existing child and student protection measures for persons with direct access to children and make it illegal for persons with certain offences, including sex offences, to be on school sites or school buses,” Anglin said in his statement to the House. “This will then mandate all schools, Early Years Centres and tertiary institutions to put in place policies and procedures to give effect to these standards.”

He added that this was in effect the adoption of a uniform national standard for protecting children in future.

“The ministry takes the safety of our children very seriously,” the minister said. “Outside of contracted services….all prospective employees are police checked as part of the ministry’s pre-employment process.”

In addition Anglin announced what he said were “well advanced plans” for the “safer Schools Strategy” a new initiative that he added would have a wider impact on children’s safety and well-being.

“It aims to develop safe, supportive school, free from risk and harm,” the minister said as he reiterated his commitment to the security and safety of all students in learning institutions.

The issue of the sex-offender who was working on a school campus was raised by local activist Sandra Catron who had petitioned government to introduce a zero tolerance policy for the employment of any offenders but in particular sex offenders in any government school buildings or areas.

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Truck tips up and unloads marl in bank car park

| 12/04/2012 | 61 Comments

Scotia parking lot.jpg(CNS): Traffic ground to a halt in the Grand Harbour area on Thursday afternoon after a fully loaded dump truck tipped over on its side as it was crossing the dms roundabout near Hurley’s. Witnesses told CNS that the marl was spread across the Scotiabank car park as the truck came to rest on its side. It is understood that no one was injured in the truck smash and although police have not yet stated what might have caused the accident, one witness at the scene said that they believed the vehicle was going quite fast as it went onto the roundabout.  Photo by Dennie Warren
 

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Ryan accused of funds misuse

| 12/04/2012 | 41 Comments

MIKE+RYAN+3.jpg(CNS):The developer of the Ritz Carlton, Cayman is facing further legal trouble as a result of another writ filed in the Grand Court this week relating to companies he is alleged to have owned that are nowin the hands of creditors. Michael Ryan has been accused of misappropriating funds from companies that were closely involved with the construction of the islands first five star resort. The companies, now controlled by RC Cayman Holdings LLC, which has also taken over the Ritz-Carlton, have sued Ryan and a number of other companies he is believed to own for undisclosed sums that the writ says belong to the plaintiffs. Ryan described the situation as a misunderstanding and said no demands were made on him before the writ was filed.

The companies which were said to have belonged to Ryan — Cesar Hotelco (Cayman) Ltd, Cesar Properties Ltd, Condoco Grand Cayman Resort Ltd, and Condoco Properties Ltd — now managed by the creditor, which holds a US$250 million loan taken out by Ryan, are suing him and several other companies he is alleged to still own — Orion Developers Ltd, Deckhouses Construction Company Ltd, IRR Limited, Endless Service Management Ltd, and BlueTip Watersports Ltd – as being the recipients of the money that the creditor says Ryan moved from one place to another without the authority.

However, Michael Ryan told CNS that Orion has been the developer, manager and agent for the companies in receivership for many years and the lending group is aware of how Orion operated the business and the receipt and expenditure of funds on its behalf.

“Any misunderstandings about that could have been resolved without the need for legal action," he told CNS on Thursday.

“I believe that by taking these actions the lender's true goal is to try to embarrass me personally and ruin my reputation both here and abroad. I look forward to the proceedings being resolved in my favour once the allegations are actually made and I have the opportunity to demonstrate the true position. I regret that the minority shareholders and lenders have chosen to take this course, which can only damage to the project's value and reputation as well as harming the image of the Cayman Islands and the values for everyone who has property or investments here,” Ryan added.

The writ, filed on 10 April in Cayman’s Grand Court, alleges that Ryan received and/or misappropriated money and property belonging to the plaintiffs and illegally transferred them to the defendants, all of which, the creditors say, Ryan has some form of direct or indirect benefit.

This amounted to a breach of his fiduciary duties, the plaintiffs claim, but no actual values have been revealed. The plaintiffs, who are essentially the companies Ryan used to control but which are now in the hands of his creditors, are seeking an order from the court to force him to return whatever has allegedly been misappropriated.

This latest legal claim comes on the heels of RC Cayman’s writ suing Ryan for the outstanding loan of US$234 million used to develop the Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman, for which Ryan was the guarantor, according to the creditors.

RC Cayman had bought the loan from Column Financial last year, which had bought the loan in 2007 from the original lenders, The Royal Bank of Scotland.

Ryan told CNS that as part of his desire to see the Ritz-Carlton’s value and reputation preserved he had been reluctant to comment on the lender's decision to appoint receivers. 

“That is their prerogative under the security documents, and although it is a standard provision, in this case it was unwarranted: the stated reasons for invoking the remedy were incorrect, and it impacts negatively on the Residence owners and guests at The Ritz-Carlton as well as the Cayman Islands generally,” he said, adding that, in the face of difficult economic times, he had tried to reach an amicable solution with the lenders.

“Despite those efforts, in March — without any warning whatsoever — receivers were appointed and my involvement with the hotel and project I had built was summarily terminated,”Ryan stated, adding that it had come as a complete surprise.

He also claims that at first he had assisted the receivers but that he is now owed money as a result of his efforts to support the project, “totalling many millions of dollars”, by the companies now in receivership.

He accuses the creditors that now manage those companies of launching the recent legal action against him without warning. 

“I have not received any demand letters or prior notice of the claims that were filed, and the most recent claims have not even been served on me," Ryan said in an email. “I do not know what the alleged complaints are because the documents are so vague: I am going to try to expedite the claims so that they can be defeated as soon as possible and so that the amounts due to be paid to me and the other companies and individuals involved can be collected.”

Ryan said that he believed the litigation was designed to attack him personally to taint his reputation as the documents show no details about the alleged misappropriation of funds and added that he believed it was a tactical move.

See writ filed in Grand Court below.

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Fake cash spotted on Cayman Brac

| 12/04/2012 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Police say that over the past few days some fake US$100 and US$10 bills have been tendered at businesses in Cayman Brac. Officers from Cayman Brac police station and the RCIPS Financial Crime Unit are asking businesses owners and members of the community to be extra vigilant and take a few extra seconds to check all notes that come into their possession. Particular attention should be paid to the metallic strip and to see if a watermark is present.

The advice from the FCU is: if you receive a counterfeit note, or suspect one to be counterfeit, observe the description of the person passing the note, as well as that of any companions; do not return the note to the passer if possible, but be sure to initial and date the white border of the note then tag the note with a copy of the transaction receipt and call the police; if you have counterfeit report forms issued by the FCU, obtain as much information as possible from the person passing the note and write it on the form; secure any CCTV footage.

The RCIPS form for reporting counterfeit money can be found on the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) website www.cimoney.com.ky under “Currency.”

Anyone who wants further information about how to identify counterfeit currency, or how to spot real notes from fake notes, should contact the RCIPS Financial Crime Unit at 949-8797.
 

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Brac student wins the Optimists’ oratorical contest

| 12/04/2012 | 2 Comments

Oratorical Contest Winners.jpg(CNS): A 12-year-old student from the Cayman Brac high school will represent the Cayman Islands at the Optimist District Level Oratorical Contest on Saturday, 14 April, at the Norman Manley Law School,UWI Campus in Jamaica. Abijith Anu was selected by a panel of three judges on Saturday, 24 March, at the Harquail Theatre, as the winner of the local Optimist Oratorical Contest, hosted by the Optimist Club of George Town, Grand Cayman. Abijith, a student of the Layman E Scott High School (formerly Cayman Brac High School) received a first place prize of US$500. 

Other winners were Oneka Thompson (John Gray High School) and Delano Callender (Clifton Hunter High School) who tied for second place and received US$350 each for their performances. At the regional contest in Jamaica this weekend, Abijith will compete against other winners from Barbados, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda and Jamaica.

All of the contestants spoke eloquently on the topic “How my optimism helps me to overcome obstacles”. Chairman of the local contest, Mark Ray, said in a release from the Optimist Club that all of the contestants were very impressive, including, the lone primary school student, 10-year-old David Swan (Prospect Primary School); Melissa Bridgemohan (John Gray High School); Erika Shim (John Gray High School), Starri Smith (Clifton Hunter High School), and the three winners.

Club President, Fred Dallas commented, “The Optimist Club of George Town Grand Cayman wishes to congratulate all the participants and thank all the parents, teachers and friends who encouraged, coached and supported the contestants. Special thanks to the support of the media for this event, in particular, Paramount Media and Cayman 27.”

Education Minister Rolston Anglin gave his support to the contest for the third straight year by attending the event and presenting the certificates of participation to all contestants, and medals to the winners. The minister noted that the level of the competition continues to be extremely high, and he praised the contestants for their performances and encouraged the Optimist Club to continue to provide opportunities for students to express themselves.

The Oratorical Contest is the flagship programme of the Optimist Club of George Town, Grand Cayman. The club’s focus is to improve outcomes for children through a range of educational and fun activities for kids and parents.  The club meets at 6:30 p.m. every first and third Thursday of the month in the Hibiscus Room of the Cayman Islands Hospital in Grand Cayman. 

For more information, email optimistcayman@yahoo.com or call 939-3954.

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Solomon admits cruise line’s interest in Pageant Beach

| 12/04/2012 | 25 Comments

cruise ship beautiful.jpg(CNS): The government’s backbench MLA who has been leading the negotiations with China Harbour Engineering Company has admitted that there is a proposal on the table to build a pier at Pageant Beach. As reported by CNS in December, Ellio Solomon confirmed that parties in Cayman had submitted an alternative proposal at the location that would directly involve a cruise line. Speaking on Cayman 27’s "The Panel" on Tuesday evening, the George Town representative said, however, that this was not necessarily in the interests of the Cayman Islands and government was going ahead with the CHEC deal.

At the end of last year CNS revealed that a proposal for an all-weather facility with no competing retail that would deliver passengers around one mile north of the current terminals and shuttle them into the down town area had been ashore given to government. Sources told CNS that it came from an unnamed group of local businessmen and would involve a direct partnership with a cruise line andwould not depend on upland retail development at the site, which is currently in private hands.

In January representatives of the local company that owns the land at Pageant Beach told CNS that they were very surprised to read about the proposal to develop a port on that property as the owner had not been approached by anyone regarding the development of a port there and the land was not for sale.

Solomon clearly stated on Tuesday that a proposal for a deal with an unnamed cruise line had been put forward to construct a pier for its exclusive use. 

Government, however, intends to press on with the CHEC negotiations, which have been extended after the most recent MOU between government and the Beijing firm was extended. Solomon stated that, despite speculation to the contrary, construction would start on the CHEC project in September.

The George Town representative admitted that, regardless of the deal with the Chinese firm, the cruise line in question was willing to go ahead with a monopoly pier.

“We have to ask ourselves if this is in the best interests of the country,” he said, denying that the cruise lines were not interested in the CHEC proposals. “If you can give any one of those cruise lines a monopoly over a particular pier, they’ll take it," he claimed.

He said government was not going forward with the Pageant Beach proposal or any others as it intended to go forward with CHEC.

Solomon justified the size of the CHEC project, in particular the upland development, which has raised concerns among many people, from the downtown merchants in the capital to the contractors association, as he said the retail was needed to give local traders a place to “sell their arts and crafts and coconuts” and to give the Port Authority additional revenue. 

He also dismissed the environmental concerns, suggesting it was just opposition for the sake of it.  However, he said government was committed to mitigating any environmental threats that may arise before construction starts.

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Study shows adaptive capacity of coral reefs

| 12/04/2012 | 0 Comments

1198167889_053cd96f3f.jpg(Science Codex): A new study by scientists at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science suggests that many species of reef-building corals may be able to adapt to warming waters by relying on their closest aquatic partners – algae. The corals' ability to host a variety of algal types, each with different sensitivities to environmental stress, could offer a much-needed lifeline in the face of global climate change. Using a highly sensitive genetic technique, Ph.D. student Rachel Silverstein analyzed 39 coral species from DNA collected in the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean collected over the last 15 years.

Most of these species had not previously been thought capable of hosting more than one type of the single-celled symbiotic algae, called zooxanthellae, which live inside the coral and help to supply them with energy.

Silverstein's results revealed that at least one colony of all 39 species tested had at least two varieties of algae, including one thought to be heat tolerant. Over half of the species were found to associate with all four of the major types of algae found in corals.
 

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Coalition queries issue of dump liability

| 12/04/2012 | 6 Comments

Fire being doused (255x300).jpg(CNS): Activists opposing the re-location of the George Town have questioned whether the need to keep costs down by the Dart Group could pose a risk to health and safety at both the existing dump and the proposed new site in Bodden Town. The Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free says that among its numerous concerns about the deal Dart and government are negotiating is how much responsibility Dart will have for the whole issue when it begins the remediation process at the existing landfill if it is not willing to take on the future contingent liabilities. As it will also be developing the first phase of the proposed new landfill in Bodden Town, the activists also query how much responsibility the developer will take for that site.

“But both projects involve Cayman’s environment and the health, safety and welfare of residents, our children and of future generations,” said Coalition leader Vincent Frederick.  “The only control the people can possibly have over what a private company does and how well they do it, in both locations, is their clear and unequivocal responsibility for any contingent damage.”

The activists say that capping and remediation of a landfill, which is only ever done when it is absolutely essential, carries significant dangers, from explosions to toxic contamination. 

“As part of the so-called ‘ForCayman Investment Alliance’ (FCIA) agreement, does Dart accept liability for its work in George Town and in Bodden Town, as would be expected of any contractor?  The people deserve a clear and honest answer,” Frederick added.

The coalition believes that this is another area where both the developer and government have not been transparent adding to the list of questions about this proposed project which have gone unanswered.

“What they’re proposing to do, for the most senseless reason – getting the GT dump out of Camana Bay’s backyard — can have disastrous consequences for Bodden Town and for all of Grand Cayman," Gregg Anderson, another coalition leader, stated this week.

“The issue should be of vital concern to all of us, requiring openness and honesty.  They cannot be allowed to do this behind our backs.”

He explained that the coalition continues to push for answers to many crucial questions surrounding the relocation of the George Town landfill, as well as requesting key documents but have received no response from the Dart Group, government or the district MLAs.
 

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Cayman U19’s continue impressive run

| 12/04/2012 | 0 Comments

cayShan2 (235x300).jpg(CRFU): Bishop Shanahan High School Rugby Club returned to Cayman for the 4th time over the Easter weekend to play a series of matches against the Cayman U19’s. Bishop Shanahan, a co-educational secondary school in Downingtown Pennsylvania has enjoyed a rich rugby touring history since the club was founded in 1993 with Cayman being a preferred destination for the young Shanahan players to test their metal against the Caribbean’s premier under 19 program. The first game on 5 April was a close affair with the bigger Americans controlling the lineout and scrum but the Caymanian backline were too hot to handle as Cayman came out on top after 80 minutes.  Photo Caroline Deegan.

Cayman held onto a slim 8 point lead 15-7 with Shanahan threatening a final score with light fading at the South Sound pitch.

On Saturday 7 April the Cayman and Shanahan sides met again to play 2 games, one 10 a-side game featuring the younger and less experienced Shanahan and Cayman players who didn’t feature in the Thursday match. And another full 15’s match being the headline feature of the day.

The 10’s game was won by Shanahan 19-14 with Cayman’s points being notched up by Jordan McLaughlin and Coby Seymour.

The 15’s clash, much like Thursday evening clash was a very tight and physical affair with Cayman hanging on to the slimmest of leads going at the half 11-10.

The flow changed in the second half as the heat took its toll on the Shanahan players. Cayman began to take control but couldn't shake off the opposition until the last ten minutes with the best two tries of the game being scored by moving the ball superbly from one side of the pitch to the other and finishing with 2 great handling moves to end the game 40-24.

Scorers: Tries; Cody Bush (1) Jordan McLaughlin (1) Dan Hall (1) Paul Westin (1) Tom Mann (2)  Penalties; William Hayward (2) Conversions; Michael Peck (2)

 

 

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Over 200 health specialists to confer in Cayman

| 12/04/2012 | 9 Comments

img-06.jpg(CNS): The latest scientific research in health care will be under discussion in the Cayman Islands next week, when the country plays host to this year’s Caribbean Health and Research Council/Caribbean Public Health Agency (CHRC/ CARPHA) Annual Research Conference. This will be the first time that the largest health research conference in the English-speaking Caribbean will be held in Cayman. Over 200 delegates are expected to come to the conference, including researchers, policy makers and healthcare providers. This year, close to sixty researchers will share their findings. Cayman’s health minister said it would provide Cayman access to valuable information to strengthen health policies.

CHRC Director Dr. Donald Simeon explained the importance of the conference which has been running since 1956.

“The dissemination of health research findings is one of the CHRC’s most important functions. The annual regional conference helps us to create a unique network of health stakeholders who share needs, information and experiences,” he said. “We are looking forward to another great conference. Apart from keeping abreast of the latest regional research, participants can also look forward to experiencing a great destination as there will be time enough to explore the unique features of the Cayman Islands after every day’s sessions,” Dr. Simeon added.

Mark Scotland, the health minister said it was an honour to host such a high-level conference.
“Providing affordable and quality healthcare to our citizens remains a challenge throughout the region. I have no doubt that the 57th Annual CHRC/CARPHA Scientific Conference will once again generate productive partnerships, while also giving us access to valuable information that enables us to strengthen and streamline our healthcare policies,” he added.

According to government officials highlights of the 2012 CHRC/CARPHA Scientific Conference include keynote lectures, satellite meetings, and training workshops hosted by medical professionals and researchers. This year’s event will start on Thursday, 19 April with a Minister’s Reception at the Cayman Islands National Gallery and concludes on Saturday, 21 April.

The general conference will be preceded by a two-day meeting of the region’s chief medical officers starting on Monday, 16 April.

For more information and registration go to http://www.chrc-caribbean.org

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