Archive for December 11th, 2012

Second arrest in Mac probe

| 11/12/2012 | 27 Comments

roadrunner.jpg(CNS): Following the premier’s release on bail Tuesday evening, the police announced a second arrest in connection with the probe. The RCIPS did not name the George Town man, but CNS confirmed via other sources that it was Suresh Prasad, the director of Midland Acres and the man who was convicted of importing explosives without the correct permits after pleading guilty in August and fined CI$1,300. Although Prasad is not a public official, he was arrested on suspicion of breach of trust, abuse of office and conflict of interest (contrary to Sections 13, 17 and 19 of the Anti-Corruption Law 2008 respectively) and inciting a breach of the corruption law. Prasad was also released on overnight bail and was expected to face further questioning Wednesday.

Police said that the local man who was arrested on Tuesday afternoon remained in police custody while enquiries continue.

During the Summary Court sentencing hearing Prasad admitted that the company had erred in its efforts to hasten the production of a significant quantity of marl for the first major contract Midland Acres had secured with the Dart Group.

The court found that this was a regulatory error and accepted the defence lawyer’s case that there was “no sinister motive” and that the explosive materials had been imported for a legitimate purpose, but an important step in the process, put in place by the authorities not as a revenue raising measure but for issues of public safety, had been omitted.

At the time of the importation but before Prasad was arrested Bush had written to the Collector of Customs and the director of the NRA asking that the dynamite be released.

Shortly afterwards the RCIPS confirmed that the issues surrounding the dynamite formed a third enquiry about the Cayman premier.

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Cops release Bush on bail

| 11/12/2012 | 34 Comments

mac good.jpg(CNS): The RCIPS has released the premier on bail following his arrest this morning. No charges have been filed against him but the police said that McKeeva Bush was expected to return to police custody tomorrow for further questioning. In a short release on Tuesday evening, a police spokesperson said that Bush had been released following a series of interviews and the questioning would continue tomorrow morning, Wednesday, 12 December. Other sources told CNS that the police also searched the premier’s office Tuesday while Bush remained in custody.

As news of the arrest of the premier spread around the world, independent MLAs Arden McLean and Ezzard Miller both said it was now time for the premier to step down from his post and for the UDP to deal “expeditiously with matters concerning the political governance of the country in order to reduce any further local or international reputational damage.”

Meanwhile, there has been no further comment from the UDP since Deputy Premier Juliana O'Connor Connolly stated that the party was making no comment and had convened a closed door meeting.

 

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Quickly and responsibly

| 11/12/2012 | 16 Comments

The recent allegations relating to the Cayman Islands premier represents a major national crisis for the country's international reputation. Due process must be carried out, but this must occur quickly and not at the same speed as the previous investigations. The system of justice is just one of many institutions in the country and the way that it works must absolutely recognise the overall implications for the Cayman Islands economy and reputation when dealing with such high profile cases.

This country simply cannot afford a process that now drags on for another 6 to 12 months or, worse, years and all involved should work to apply the necessary resources to this case as it is very clearly in the country's interest to do so.

To ignore the wider implications of this case is to risk setting the country back several years as international investors and clients, including those from the global financial services industry, reconsider the Cayman Islands brand.

As bad luck would have it, the Cayman Islands are now perfectly placed to be perceived in the same light as Turks and Caicos, especially given the recent arrest of that jurisdiction's former premier, and we must act quickly now as a community to wrestle Cayman from this situation.

Political opponents: you will have your day to use this development against Mr Bush, but for the country's sake avoid adding fuel to the fire so that your country does not suffer the worst economic setback it has ever had in its history. Because make no mistake, everything is perfectly poised for that to happen if we do not act quickly and responsibly on this one.

 

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International soccer pro to attend soccer camp

| 11/12/2012 | 0 Comments

carli-lloyd.jpgUS women's scoocer pro, Carli Lloyd, will be attending the Dream Out Loud Foundation's 'Arie Smith Soccer Camp' on December 17th and 18th, 2012, at the Ed Bush Stadium in West Bay. The Camp will run from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. each evening and is free for boys and girls to attend. Lloyd will greet and take pictures with the campers and tell her motivational story about her journey as a professional soccer player. Carli Lloyd is a member of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and has played for various clubs in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league. She has over 140 caps for the U.S. National team and 41 goals.

She is a two time Olympic Gold Medalist – scoring the 2 winning goals in the finals against Japan in the recent 2012 Olympics and the overtime game winner against Brazil in the 2008 Olympics. She also won silver at the last Women’s World Cup in 2011. Lloyd was a student-athlete at Rutgers University where she was named “First Team All – Big East” for 4 years running. She was also named the U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year in 2008.

Dream Out Loud is a non-profit organization promoting and providing opportunities for young girls through football (soccer) in the Cayman Islands and empowering and educating them about leadership on and off the field. Over recent years women’s soccer has grown tremendously around the world and in the Cayman Islands.

Arie Smith is a young Caymanian soccer player and founder of the Dream Out Loud Foundation. She is currently a senior student at Kennesaw State University. Her goal is to further the development of programmes and initiatives for young women in the Cayman Islands. Her commitment to the Dream Out Loud foundation is a way for her to give back to her community in the Cayman Islands through a sport that she is passionate about.
Interested parties can call 345 925-3103 or (345) 916-3977 or visit the foundation’s facebook page at:

www.facebook.com/DreamOutLoudFoundation

The foundation can also be followed on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/DreamOutLoudFdn

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Cayman Finance tight lipped over premier’s arrest

| 11/12/2012 | 10 Comments

coles_0.JPG(CNS): Despite mounting concerns about the impact the premier's arrest may have on the Cayman Islands financial services sector, the body representing the industry said very little Tuesday. Richard Coles, the chair of Cayman Finance, said it was concerned at hearing of the arrest of McKeeva Bush and, as a jurisdiction that upholds good governance and transparency, the organisation fully expected that due process would be followed. ''As the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further,'' Coles said, as Cayman waited to hear whether Bush would be charged or released by the police Tuesday after spending the day being questioned by officers from the Financial Crimes Unit.

Bush was arrested at his West Bay home on 11 December at 7am on suspicion of a number of offences relating to theft and corruption in connection with misuse of a government credit card and with the importation of dynamite without a permit.

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Mac’s arrest goes global

| 11/12/2012 | 47 Comments

rr21 (252x300).jpg(CNS): The news of the arrest of the Cayman Islands premier was picked up by the international media instantly on Tuesday, with the story running worldwide on television and hundreds of news media websites. McKeeva Bush was arrested at 7am at his home in West Bay on suspicion of theft and other corruption related charges in connection with the misuse of a government credit card and the importation of explosives. The UDP issued a statement at noon saying they understood the gravity of the situation but no comment could yet be made, adding that the elected UDP members were currently in caucus. Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition said he was confident that the law would take its course and that the authorities needed the opportunity to complete their work unimpeded.

Across the world, from the BBC in London to the Washington Post in the US, the story of Bush's arrest was a headline story with over 100 news sites picking up the story before noon.

Although police remained tight lipped about the arrest and refused to say where the premier was being held, sources told CNS that he was believed to have been taken to the RCIPS' new marine base location in Newlands.

The police revealed that Bush was arrested on suspicion of theft regarding the misuse of a government credit card as well as in connection with his part in the importation of dynamite without the relevant permits by a local company earlier this year.

Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin stated that, while this was a period of uncertainty for the country, people should remain calm and trust in the rule of law. 

“It is designed to deal with and ultimately resolve matters such as this," he stated, adding that the arrest was a hugely damaging body blow to the reputation of Cayman and its government. 

"It will do immense harm to our credibility as an international business centre and a place to work and do business,” the opposition leader stated. He continued, “The social and economic interests of these Islands depend on Mr Bush’s colleagues in the Cabinet and on the government Bbackbench acting swiftly and resolutely in this matter to return normalcy to the operations of government and to prevent the further hemorrhaging of the country’s image and reputation.”

He said that accepted international best practice and the conventions of the Westminster system of government provide clear guidance as to the course of action that ought now to be followed by Bush and his Cabinet and supporting backbench MLAs. “We will continue to closely monitor this grave situation over the course of the next 24 hours and will issue another statement as and when circumstances require,” McLaughlin added.

However, as Bush has not yet been charged, never mind convicted, there is nothing in law that preventshim from continuing in office. With the premier still believed to be in police custody, his press secretary on leave and the UDP party faithful behind closed doors, there was little indication of whether the premier intended to come out fighting and remain in office or whether he would step down pending the legal process.

As Bush had been under investigation for over 18 months, the arrest was not unexpected in Cayman. Nevertheless the reality of his arrest sent shock waves through the community.

The first on-the-record public comment came from Chris Duggan, the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce president, who said the arrest demonstrated Cayman's robust anti-corruption system.

Speaking on behalf of the business organisation, he said, “The arrest of the premier on alleged breach of trust, abuse of office and theft charges demonstrates Cayman’s robust law enforcement and anti-corruption systems and the Islands’ intolerance with any alleged unethical behaviour or corruption, even at the highest level of political office. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s Financial Crime Unit’s investigation leading up to today’s arrest has been ongoing for several months and the economy has continued to perform robustly, providing quality services and products to the world’s financial markets, international visitors and investors. We are wholly confident that that same level of integrity and service will continue as the case works its way through the judicial system."

Duggan added, “The Chamber of Commerce unequivocally supports all actions by law enforcement officials to root out any unethical behaviour that may damage the reputation of the Cayman Islands as a leading international financial centre and as a quality jurisdiction in which to conduct business and invest." 

Charles Clifford, the former tourism minister and Bush's past permanent secretary, who has persistently questioned the integrity of the current and previous UDP administrations, said it was a sad and embarrassing day for Cayman. He commented, “From as far back as 2004 I have been saying that, as a country, if we did not embrace the principles of good governance that this day would come.”

Clifford, who is now a practicing attorney, also stated, “I recognise that the presumption of innocence must apply in all cases, including the arrest of McKeeva Bush. We shall see where the evidence leads.”

Independent members Ezzard Miller and Arden McLean planned to make a live statement at lunchtime, but Miller said that the arrest demonstrated that the rule of law in Cayman was strong and no one was above it.

The governor's office also confirmed that a statement regarding the premier's arrest would be released sometime today.

Keep logged on to CNS for updates throughout the day.

See statements below

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CIG will function normally, says governor

| 11/12/2012 | 8 Comments

Throne Speech  Governor.jpg(CNS): The Cayman Islands governor, Duncan Taylor, has said that he is committed to ensuring the normal function of government, regardless of the arrest of the premier this morning. Taylor said the whole of the the Cayman Islands Government would ensure its effective functioning and the continued efficient delivery of services to the public. The governor further stated that he had confidence in the police commissioner to carry out a robust and fair enquiry. The statement was released in the wake of the arrest of McKeeva Bush Tuesday in connection with the misuse of a government credit card and the importation of dynamite.

The governor said, “The conduct of criminal investigations in the Cayman Islands is a matter for the police commissioner.  If evidence is brought to his attention which leads him to suspect that an offence or offences may have been committed, I expect him to carry out a robust, fair and comprehensive investigation, regardless of the individual concerned.  I am confident that the police commissioner will ensure that this applies to the ongoing investigations involving the premier.”

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Stingray Swim Club travels to Jamaica

| 11/12/2012 | 0 Comments

Stingray-Jamaica.gif(CIASA): Stingray Swim Club members will travel to Kingston, Jamaica this weekend to compete in the 2012 Christmas Open Swimming Championships at the National Stadium 8-lane, 50m pool. The 14 swimmer squad will compete in over 80 individual events, each with a specific, personal goal attached to it. Swimmers aim for a Personal Best (PB) time with each swim, but at this meet the swimmers will also be chasing qualifying times for the 2013 CARIFTA games in Jamaica and the Island Games in Bermuda next year. With a mixture of CARIFTA experience and first appearances in a 50m pool, Stingray Swim Club Coach, Andy Copley, knows there may be some nerves on deck but he also knows his swimmers are ready.

Mr. Copley said about his team, “They have worked hard for this meet, have put in the time, pushed themselves and met the club’s training requirement to be eligible” he said, adding, “Now they get to compete, swim fast and have fun.”

“Stingray Swim Club is extremely proud of the hard work and commitment which all of our swimmers have exhibited in training this season,” said Club President Brenda McGrath, “and our whole Club will be cheering our swimmers on this weekend whether from the stands at the pool in Kingston, or via the updates we will receive via email, text and BBM.”

The full squad travelling to Jamaica comprises: Samantha Bailey, Stefanie Boothe, Sarah Jackson, Jonathan Key, Katie Klein, Catriona Macrae, Alex McCallum, Iain McCallum, Cole Morgan, Ella Plunkett, Hayley Roulstone, Andrew Smilley, Jayde Solomon and Ashley Theaker. They will be joined by Coach Andy Copley and Team Manager Vickie Girling.

After their Jamaica trip, Stingray Swim Club athletes will be busy taking part in an Inter Squad Christmas Meet; a Back in the Water Burner in January and  a Sprint Meet, before travelling to Nassau, Bahamas to take part in a two day meet hosted by the Barracuda Swim Club.

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Cayman Prep Under-11s top football league group B

| 11/12/2012 | 0 Comments

2012pflrally-41.gif(CUC-PFL): Last Saturday, Cayman Prep School’s Under-11 team rounded off a perfect football season by defeating Red Bay Primary 3-1 in a “top of the table” Group B clash at the Annex Field, George Town. Both schools started the day boasting a perfect record, with five wins out of five and Cayman Prep holding the edge thanks to a superior goal difference. With qualification assured for both schools in the Under-11 Champions Cup Playoffs in January 2013, a very valuable three points were on the line. During the season, Cayman Prep scored an impressive 44 goals so it wasn’t much of a surprise when the Prepsters took the lead in the 16th minute after Aaron Jarvis got on the end of teammate David Pitcairn’s perfect cross.

The impressive young Pitcairn added to his team’s lead in the 35th minute before Red Bay’s Jossiah McLaughlin scored an unfortunate own goal in the 42nd minute to make the score 3-0.

Red Bay’s Mesyass Llewellyn gave his team a glimmer of hope in the 43rd minute after tapping in a loose ball, but it was too late as Cayman Prep held on for the win and the Under-11 Group B championship.

In the Under-9 fixture, Cayman Prep and Red Bay played out an exciting 1-1 draw with Red Bay’s Noel Squire opening the scoring in the 9th minute and Jack Norman equalising for Cayman Prep in the 41st minute.

Other results from Group B were NorthEast Schools 3 vs. Prospect Primary 2 (Under-9); NorthEast Schools 6 vs. Prospect Primary 1 (Under-11) and Triple C 2 vs. South Sound Schools 4 (Under-9).

In Group A it was Sir John A. Cumber Primary 1 vs. St. Ignatius Prep 2 (Under 9); Sir John A. Cumber Primary 0 vs. St. Ignatius Prep 0 (Under 11); George Town Primary 2 vs. Truth For Youth 2 (Under 9); George Town Primary 4 vs. Truth For Youth 1 (Under 11) and Grace Academy 2 vs. Cayman International School (Under 11).

This past Saturday marked the final regular season games of the 2012/2013 CUC PFL season. The 2012/2013 PFL Playoffs commence at 9:00am on Saturday, 5th January, 2013, at the Annex Field.

To view the final 2012/2013 CUC PFL standings, visit CUC’s website at www.cuc-cayman.com. On the home page, go to “About Us”, navigate to “Community Involvement” and click on “Primary Football League”.

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Cayman Turtle Farm undergoes review

| 11/12/2012 | 16 Comments

PhotoGallery2.jpg(CNS): An independent review of the Cayman Turtle Farm (CTF) began Monday, following worrying revelations by an animal activist group. A four member team, which includes vets and scientists but no animal welfare experts, will be at the site in West Bay until Wednesday, and their report is expected in January. The aim of the inspection is to determine whether standards of care meet those required to ensure that the operation is conducted in a “humane manner” and examine standards of husbandry. Although the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) uncovered a number of major concerns at the farm in a report published earlier this year, the animal welfare group has not been invited to take part in this review. The group raised concerns that the team of inspectors may be compromised.

The team includes Dr. Annette Broderick, a Senior Lecturer in Conservation Biology who has worked with the Farm in the past, and Professor Brendan Godley, a marine conservation scientist and qualified vet. Mt. Godley has already conducted a review of the farm in the past, which may be what the WSPA has said could lead to bias.

In addition, the animal rights activists said that the reviewers are planning to compare the practices employed at the CTF with standards of practice in other “domestic livestock production facilities”.

However, the WSPA has said that, as green sea turtles are not domesticated animals, comparing their production with standards applied to intensive farmed chickens is inappropriate. It has also raised concerns that the welfare of turtles is not part of the review.

In correspondence with the WSPA recently, Tim Adam, managing director of the turtle farm, said that the inspectors are internationally known sea turtle experts and the farm believes they willconduct a fair inspection. 

Mr. Adam said, “It is important for the inspection team to maintain its independence and there would likely be a perception of bias if a representative of WSPA, which has campaigned against the CTF, were added.  Indeed none of our staff from the CTF will be on the inspection team, since that also would likely lead to the report being discredited as biased.”

Disappointed that it has been excluded from the “independent” review of the Farm and surprised that two of the participants in what is being billed as an “independent” review have close professional ties to the Cayman Turtle Farm, the WSPA said Monday that it had 'severe concerns' that the independence of the review is already compromised and that the welfare of the sea turtles will not be at the heart of this inspection.

“We don’t believe this is either in the best interests of the farm or will provide the Caymanian people with the independent assurances they are demanding, that the Farm is managing the turtles properly,” the WSPA said in a statement. “However we genuinely hope – in the interests of the turtles – to be proven wrong in this instance and that the farm will proceed with total transparency and move to involve, if not us, another leading world-renowned global animal welfare organisation with the expertise to usefully input in to this assessment.”

According to the terms of reference, the inspectors will examine: water quality; stocking densities; treatment and prevention of disease and injury; levels and causes of mortality; levels (if any) of severe injuries; levels (if any) of congenital deformities; handling of animals by guests (including safety of both animals and guests); slaughter methods and practice.

The scientists are also being asked to suggest any reasonable steps by which animal husbandry and care might be improved at thefarm and to comment on the contribution the CTF makes to conservation of turtle species. The terms of reference also indicate that the inspection will be made on the ‘basis of the standards of practice that would apply to a comparable intensive livestock production' in facilities in the UK or USA.

In his previous review of the old Cayman Turtle Farm site in 2002, Professor Godley had noted some concerns at the farm regarding the feed, diseases and mortality rates, but had stated that the standards were “sufficiently high” to meet CITES requirements.
CNS has contacted the CTF for comment regarding the questions surrounding the independence of the inspectors and the failure to include an animal welfare expert in the team, but is still awaiting a response.

See Prof Godfrey’s earlier report below and details of the review team.

See related story on CNS: Report-slams-turtle-farm

 

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