Archive for May 4th, 2012

Bank heist suspect released

| 04/05/2012 | 36 Comments

scotia bank robbery2.jpg(CNS): Update Monday 7 May — Police say the 25-year-old man they arrested on Friday in connection with Thursday’s bank heist at the downtown George Town branch of Scotia Bank has been released on police bail while enquiries continue. Officers investigating the armed robbery are appealing for anyone who has information in relation to the robbery or who witnessed the car being abandoned in Bronze Road shortly after Thursday morning’s crime to come forward. The bank was held up at around 11:45am when three men, two armed with guns, entered the bank and demanded cash.

scotia bank robbery2 (291x300)_0.jpgThey escaped in a waiting dark blue Honda Accord saloon, which was later found abandoned behind Church of the New Testament off North Sound Road. However, the car was caught on camera by a visiting cruise passenger as one of the robbers was getting into the car. The armed masked men reportedly fled with an undisclosed sum of cash but no shots were fired and no one was injured during the bank heist.

Police continue the hunt for the individuals involved in the crime.

Information can be passed to George Town CID on 949-4222, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477(TIPS).

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Mac attacks Taylor

| 04/05/2012 | 238 Comments

Mac 13 may.jpg(CNS): The Cayman Islands premier has launched a full frontal attack on Governor Duncan Taylor as relations between the elected leader and the UK’s representative deteriorates to an all-time low. McKeeva Bush accused the governor of doing “nothing of substance” to help Cayman and of “stealthily and insidiously” undermining what Bush said were his efforts to get the local economy off the ground. In his attack on Taylor the premier said he was playing the UK’s “age old game of divide and conquer” as he once again claimed to be innocent in the face of three police investigations and implied that these were nothing more than a conspiracy. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

“He’s done nothing for three years to help us but to throw cold water on whatever we were trying to do,” Bush said in an official statement. The comments came in the wake of a short statement issued by the governor on Thursday in which he denied Bush’s accusations of a conspiracy between himself and the FCO bureaucrats.

Bush accused Taylor of announcing the additional police probes into his affairs as deflection form coverage in the UK press about the governor’s family as well as extending his stay in Cayman without telling Cabinet.

“When the London press went after him a few days ago, he made the commissioner send out that statement on me to draw attention away from him, and his troubles,” Bush claimed in his statement. “To top it all off, he went and got an extension of his time in Cayman without so much as a hint to me as Premier or to my Cabinet because he figured I would oppose it. That is not how Governors are supposed to behave,” the premier added.

The premier said neither the governor nor the Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials had done anything to help the Cayman Islands and when criticized in London they have not stood up for the Islands.

“We have suffered unemployment. Has he tried to help us? What has he done? He has done nothing of substance to help these islands,” Bush added, accusing the governor of opposing his projects. “He opposed Dr Shetty’s hospital project and I had to tell him 'you don't like this but you have no vote in cabinet' He didn't support me hiring Lord Blencathra. This is just a bit of what I've had to put up with; that’s the way he has performed,” Bush said.

“He has stealthily and insidiously undermined what I've been trying to do to get our economy off the ground and get jobs for people. Meanwhile he's got an extension of time for his job where he's never had it so good,” the premier lamented.

The tirade against Taylor comes following Bush’s persistent comments over the last week that the three police investigations surrounding him are baseless and merely a conspiracy against him.

The police commissioner has confirmed that Bush is involved in an investigation relating to an illegal shipment of dynamite, one into a land transaction involving developer Stan Thomas and a further issue regarding “financial irregularities", all of which the premier says are without merit.

See Bush’s full statement below.

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CoP says Dart $5m legal

| 04/05/2012 | 55 Comments

dart shovels_0.JPG(CNS): Updated with premier's comments — The police commissioner has confirmed that the Dart group has not committed any offence in connection with a $5 million donation that the company gave to government as part of the controversial ForCayman Investment Alliance. Following a complaint to the Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) by independent MLA Ezzard Miller, who questioned under what circumstances the cash payment was made, David Baines, in his role as chair of the ACC, wrote to Dart Management on Monday stating that the investigation was concluded and there was no evidence of a crime. The premier described the complaint as "political mischief making" and an "unfortunate waste of time".

The letter from the commissioner which was sent to Mark Vandevelde and Jackie Doak made it clear that the parties had cooperated with the enquiry, as Baines thanks them for supplying all of the necessary information.

In correspondence akin to that sent recently to Arden McLean thanking him for his cooperation regarding the complaint that he had not paid his CUC bills when he was a Cabinet minister, Baines acknowledged the assistance he received from Dart “to expedite this matter”. The McLean investigation was triggered by McKeeva Bush who reported the former Cabinet member to the anti-corruption commission as Bush claimed, McLean had not paid his CUC bills for one year while he was negotiating the licensing agreement with the local power firm.

McLean was also cleared after a few weeks having provided the commission with voluntary access to all the necessary documents and information to speed up the enquiry.

This latest complaint was made to the commission by Miller as he said it was not transparent as no invoice or explanation had been given for the early $5 million cash payment which, according to government and Dart, was an advance on a $20 million donation promised for community projects.

Government has said the cash forms part of a land swap and investment deal surrounding Dart’s plans for the property it owns around the West Bay Road and a new five star resort on the site of the former Courtyard Marriott.

The issue was questioned by Miller because the money was handed over before the main deal with Dart has been signed and as part of a preliminary deal to facilitate the start of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway extension ahead of the proposed closure of a 4,000 foot strip of the West Bay Road. With activists still campaigning against the closure, the crown land issue not yet sorted and an independent audit of the deal still underway, the signing of the early deal was treated with some suspicion.

When McKeeva Bush announced that he intended to give a quarter of a million dollars of the money to his preferred candidate in East End in order to implement community projects in that district, suspicions about the parameters of the payment were raised.

Miller asked to see the invoice from government which Dart was paying that could explain the $5 million cash donation. The premier also launched the start of a mortgage assistance programme with the money, which will help Caymanians who are facing repossession of their homes.

In response to the commissioner’s letter, a spokesperson for Dart said “given the open and transparent process that this contract with government underwent, the findings do not surprise Dart Realty’s Executive Team.”

Dart said it was releasing the letter, however, as a result of Miller’s on going allegations of corruption and his repeated calls for “an invoice” in order to put an “end to the often irresponsible speculation about the validity of the process and legitimacy of this contribution to the community.”

According to a release from government yesterday regarding the audit of the NRA-government deal with Dart, if the independent review does not show value for money and government rejects the deal, the investor will be able to recoup the $5 million via development concessions.

in the wake of the commissioner's clearance of Dart, the premeir said government was pleased to see the commission affirm the legitimacy of the Dart contribution.

"This letter from the ACC proves that the funding of community investments through the NRA Agreement has been done in full compliance of the laws and regulations, and that the political mischief making is an unfortunate waste of time and resources that could
be better used addressing real problems and real needs in our community," he said. "In these challenging economic times, the UDP Government stands by the NRA Agreement and the ForCayman Investment Alliance as an innovative, win-win partnership for the good of the Cayman Islands,” Bush added

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Bush still backing CHEC

| 04/05/2012 | 48 Comments

cruise ship at port_0.JPG(CNS): The premier has said that he is going to pursue the negotiations with China Harbour Engineering Company as government’s partner for the development of cruise berthing facility in George Town despite the comments of the Overseas Territories Henry Bellingham that he had concerns over the proposal. McKeeva Bush insisted on Tuesday evening that the Chinese were still offering the best deal and that the UK did not like the idea of Cayman doing business with the Chinese as they would bring too much money, meaning the FCO would lose control. He said the deal would not need to be retendered and he would be speaking to the auditor general and the new CTC chair.

During his appearance on Cayman 27’s "The Panel" on Tuesday, Bush said the Cayman Islands was going to get a lot out of the CHEC negotiations, much more than what GLF would have given.

Bush said KPMG were on board examining the proposals and that it would come before Cabinet and he said he was still hoping he would have an agreement by September. In the face of Bellingham’s comments about the need to get the port project back in line with best international procurement practice, Bush said that the UK only needed to worry about value for money.

“The important thing that England should be concerned about … rather than them not wanting the Chinese here, is whether at the end of the day value for money has been had … (sic) and that’s what we are doing and what that’s what we are going to show. At the end of the day our country is going to get many more benefits than would have had under any other deal,” Bush said on the TV show.

“We have got a good deal for this country. What are they talking about with this process?” he asked. “At the end of the day, is Cayman going to get a better deal? Will we have value for money? Those are the questions and we have not got to that point yet,” he said as he justified the selection of CHEC as a potential partner.

Bush dismissed the issue of the tendering process as he said that others had not been tendered properly.

However, a request for proposals was circulated shortly after the UDP came to office and rejected the Atlantic Star proposal, which had been placed on the table under the previous administration.

The Port Authority received around ten bids and DECCO was identified as the best potential deal. When the negotiations broke down, however,government moved on to GLF Construction, which was identified as the second best choice.

However, when the premier opted to reject GLF, a decision which was eventually to cost the public purse more than $2 million, he moved on to CHEC, which had never participated in the original tendering process.

Defending the failure to get any projects off the ground despite some three quarters of the UDP administration being completed, Bush blamed bureaucracy.

“We can go out and get people … we wine, dine them … make them feel good about Cayman, finally get them here, get them to announce a project, then the bureaucracy takes over … and the governor gets into it and puts a civil servant he wants in place … that’s what takes the time … it’s the bureaucracy; that’s what I complain about a lot."

He said that the world was looking at Cayman and if we continued to build laws that “bounce people away” Cayman would continue to suffer.

Bush said he tells the governor all the time about the need to get people to work as they are losing their homes. “Don’t come and talk to me about regulations," he said. “There is far too much regulation … to do what? To prove that this country is going to make money out of it?” the premier asked.

He lamented the process and wondered what it is “they” (meaning the UK) needed to know when they said they were not satisfied with the procurement process.

“At the end of the day, they need to know that this country will not lose money … and their contingent liabilities will be less. Or is that they don’t want to see us to get ahead?” he asked rhetorically.

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Auditors still reviewing NRA-Dart deal

| 04/05/2012 | 17 Comments

dartswbroad.JPG(CNS): Although government has already signed a deal between it, the Natinal Roads Authority (NRA) and Dart to begin work on the Esterely Tibbetts Highway extension and the proposed closure of the West Bay Road, a statement from the public works ministry has confirmed that the auditors are still in the process of reviewing the agreement. With the deal signed, the road works already started and some $5 milllion given to government, officials said the project could still be stopped depending on the findings of PwC, the audit firm conducting the review. If it is terminated, government said, Dart can recover its US$5m through development incentives.

“The NRA Agreement signing allowed preliminary works and employment to begin on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway extension," officials said in a statement from both PwC Corporate Finance and Recovery and the ministry with responsibility for roads.

"This work is being carried out under the regulatory supervision of the National Roads Authority. The continuation of the work will be subject to government’s assessment of the Independent Review findings. The signing also allowed for the release of USD $5M to the Cayman Islands Government for funding of various community investments. Should the NRA Agreement be terminated after the Independent Review, Dart Realty will be able to recover the USD$5M through development incentives,” the ststaement released by the ministry said.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) are now in the process of reviewing the controversial agreement, which was signed in December by the Cayman Islands Government, the NRA and Dart Realty. The Independent review is a required component of the NRA and will provide an “objective assessment of the value of the NRA Agreement to the Government and the people of the Cayman Islands", officials said.

The review is also meant to assess government’s compliance with its Framework for Fiscal Responsibility which the premier signed with the UK government last November.
Government is paying for the review and based on the findings it will make a decision on whether or not to proceed with the NRA Agreement, suggest changes to it or terminate the deal completely.

“The Terms of Reference, which were approved by Cabinet, require a value for money assessment on all aspects of the NRA Agreement.They include a value for money analysis of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway Extension, the vesting of the land relating to the West Bay Road Legal Closure, Government’s concessions to Dart, and Dart’s community funding allocation for Government programs,” officials stated..

Once PwC has completed the Independent Review, the results will be presented to Cabinet for review but government has not said when it anticipates that will happen.

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Police experimenting with beat-tweets

| 04/05/2012 | 13 Comments

article-1306321878058-0CBA01E6000005DC-974421_466x310.jpg(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) is turning to technology and social networking to keep the community informed. Starting on Tuesday, Neighborhood Officer PC Sharon Baillie “will Tweet from the Beat” as she works in the communities of West Bay, the RCIPS said. This pilot programme will be monitored over the next few weeks and it is hoped that it will then be rolled out to the other districts. Acting Superintendent Robert Scotland is an enthusiastic supporter of social media and hopes it will help engage people with their local officers .

“I see this as a very positive step forward in keeping people within our communities better informed,” he said. “It will, in a way, demystify the role of the police officer. Everyone is using smartphones nowadays and we aim to capitalise on that to break down barriers and engage with people, young and old.”

PC Baillie will message via the general RCIPS Twitter account – @ caymanpolice – but will sign her tweets “PC Baillie – WB”. She admitted to being a little nervous about entering into the world of social media but said she was is willing to embrace any avenue of communication that can assist her in her role.

“The concept of Tweet from the Beat is an interesting one,” she says. “But if it helps get our messages out into the wider public and encourages people to get more involved with what we do it can only be a good thing.”

If you want to receive Tweets from the Beat sign up to follow caymanpolice on Twitter.

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