Archive for May, 2013

New premier summoned to UK for tax talks

| 29/05/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): The new Cayman Islands premier, who is coming into the job in the middle of a storm of anti-tax haven rhetoric from the British Prime Minister, has been summoned to the UK for a meeting on tax information sharing and transparency, the outcome of which will be critical to Cayman’s financial services sector. Earlier this month David Cameron sent a letter to the leaders of 10 British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, telling them that the UK is hosting a high level event on 15 June, so “this is the critical moment to get our own houses in order”. Premier Alden McLaughlin said that it was very important to address the contents of Cameron’s letter and that he and the new minister responsible for financial services, Wayne Panton, would be travelling to London next month. Read more on CNS Business

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Bridger defends allegation

| 29/05/2013 | 23 Comments

Bridger 24.jpg(CNS): The former Scotland Yard cop who headed up the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service corruption investigation, which took place in Cayman between 2007 and 2009, has defended the allegations that he has made to the British police regarding Cayman Islands Attorney General Samuel Bulgin. In response to Bulgin’s accusations that Martin Bridger’s allegations are "scurrilous", the ex-senior police officer noted that it was the UK police, not him, that had decided the evidence against Bulgin, former Cayman Islands governor Stuart Jack and Larry Covington, the FCO’s security official for the overseas territories, warranted an enquiry .

Following an article on CNS, which stated that a Scotland Yard review has concluded, based partly on documented interviews that Bridger had given the UK police, that Jack, Bulgin and Covington could face a criminal inquiry for allegedly lying to officers during the investigation, Bulgin launched an attack on Bridger. In a statement delivered to the local press Monday, he said that there was not a shred of “independent or contemporaneous evidence” to support the allegations that Bridger has made.

However, the leader of the ill-fated "Operation Tempura" investigation said that the evidence he had presented was supported by witness statements from former RCIPS commissioner Stuart Kernohan and his deputy, John Jones, and as far as the London police were concerned, the evidence had reached the threshold to warrant investigation

“As with all criminal allegations, made either in the UK or the Cayman Islands, it is for the police to decide whether or not there is 'reasonable grounds to suspect' that a criminal offence may have been committed and whether or not an investigation should be commenced,” Bridger noted. “The Metropolitan Police have decided that this threshold has been reached and that the allegations warrant investigation.”

The Met is conflicted in this case, however, because at the start of Tempura the London-based police force had oversight of the Tempura investigation and was, therefore, Bridger’s employer.

Whoever investigates what really happened during the bungled internal enquiry and whatever the outcome, Bridger pointed out that the start of the investigation will not point to anyone's certain guilt or innocence. 

“Once the investigation is complete, the police will submit a file to the prosecuting authorities for them to make a decision as to whether to charge the people concerned or not. If the decision is made to charge, then it is for the courts to decide on guilt or innocence,” Bridger added, making it clear that he has merely given his evidence to the police that a crime might have occurred, and in turn, the UK police have decided that there is enough to suspect criminal behaviour.

“I have read, with care, the statement made by the Attorney General, Samuel Bulgin, in response to this criminal allegation,” Bridger stated Tuesday evening.  “He would be familiar with the above procedures. What he has said is a matter for him. I do not intend to get involved in a debate with the AG or anyone else concerning these matters whilst they are still under consideration by the governor, Duncan Taylor. If an investigation is sought by the governor I will support that investigation in whatever way I can.”

Bridger added that he had not instructed legal counsel in this matter.

However, the former police investigator is currently in a number of legal battles with the attorney general to clear the way for him to use documents relating to the Tempura enquiry to defend himself in a civil action brought by Stuart Kernohan regarding his ousting from the police commissioner’s post in 2008, following a chain of events triggered by Bridger’s Tempura probe.

Meanwhile, the governor, Duncan Taylor, who has received a letter about the allegations and the position of the Met that an investigatoin is required, has not yet made a decision on whether to launch such an enquiry. The UK's representative, however, is currently fighting an order by the information commissioner in the local courts to release what is believed to be a damning documents related to the Tempura enquiry.

See related stories on CNS:

AG denies Bridger allegations

Jack and Bulgin face enquiry

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Kurt rounds out new Cabinet

| 29/05/2013 | 92 Comments

_DSC7918-web.jpg(CNS): Political veteran and former leader of government business Kurt Tibbetts will not be sitting on the back-benches during the new PPM administration but will be taking a leading role in the new Cabinet as the health, works, agriculture and community affairs minister. Alden McLaughlin revealed Tuesday evening, when the new premier was finally able to announce his front bench after days of negotiations, that Tibbetts, his long time mentor, will take a ministry. He confirmed that, along with C4C Cabinet member Tara Rivers, Winston Connolly will also be sitting on the government back-bench and, following the rearrangement of the various portfolios, he will be appointed councillor to work with Rivers.

Meanwhile, C4C member Roy McTaggart has not yet made up his mind about which side of the chamber he will sit. The former auditor, however, has accepted the chair of the Public Accounts Committee. Although that job has traditionally been held by an opposition member in Cayman, it is not always the case across the Commonwealth. Nevertheless, McLaughlin stated Tuesday that McTaggart had been invited to join the government benches but he was still considering that offer.

Keen not leave out his own back benchers, especially the younger members, McLaughlin said that Joey Hew and Al Suckoo would also be appointed as councillors to assist the various ministers when all of the departments were assigned.

With Connolly on board and Juliana O’Connor-Connolly now a card carrying member of the PPM, set to take the speaker’s chair, McLaughlin has a comfortable majority in a government which, he said, was not a coalition but an inclusive PPM administration.

“It has been a tense time for Cayman,” McLaughlin said at the press briefing, broadcast live on TV and radio Tuesday evening, as he spoke about the time it had taken to put together a viable government before confirming the various portfolios.

Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell said he had met with Arden McLean and Ezzard Miller earlier that day and, in an effort to also include them in government, offers of support roles had been made. Miller had declined the deputy speaker’s job but Kirkconnell said that McLean, a former PPM member, is said to be still considering the possible roles offered to him, which were not stated.

Despite the rift which has now emerged between the PPM and the two independent members from the eastern districts, Kirkconnell said he had a “very engaging and good conversation” with the two members, who accepted that the election was over and that the PPM has a mandate to move forward. “I am confident that they are both excellent representatives and will do well for their constituencies,” the deputy premier added.

With an enormous amount of work now ahead of the team, McLaughlin confirmed that in addition to his role as premier he would take on the new public affairs ministry and also play an oversight role of the entire Cabinet. His deputy will dealwith tourism and district administration, while Marco Archer will take on development and planning with the finance ministry. Osbourne Bodden has been given education and sports, while Tara Rivers has confirmed her acceptance of labour, youth and gender affairs. Wayne Panton, who will be dealing with financial services, will also be taking on the environment.

McLaughlin said there were a significant number of subjects or departments not yet assigned to ministers and it would take some time to go through the long list, as he had been forced to delay his Cabinet decisions because of the negotiations.

Despite having a struggle on his hands to find the comfortable majority he was seeking, McLaughlin said that, given how hard his team had fought for victory at the polls, he was never prepared to increase his offer to the C4C, as far as the number ofCabinet seats was concerned, more than what was made immediately and unconditionally to Rivers in the wake of the result last week.

Vote in the CNS poll: How do you rate Alden McLaughlin job performance after his first task – choosing his Cabinet team?

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Robber assaults elderly customer at BT mini-mart

| 28/05/2013 | 12 Comments

(CNS) Updated Wednesday: An armed man was confronted by an elderly male customer as he robbed the Lookout Fresh Fruit and Juices Minimart on Anton Bodden Drive, Bodden Town yesterday afternoon. Police said that about 3:58pm on Tuesday 28 May, a man entered the store in possession of what appeared to be a handgun and stole a quantity of cash. He assaulted the man who confronted him before leaving the location riding a bicycle along Hardy Street. No shots were fired and no serious injuries were sustained. The suspect is about 5'10"; he was wearing dark clothing and a dark coloured face mask. Police said that investigators recovered a number of items including the bicycle.

Anyone who was in the area at the relevant time and saw anything that could assist the investigation is asked to call Bodden Town Police Station at 947-2220 or the confidential Crime Stoppers number 800-8477(TIPS).

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Alden’s top job now official

| 28/05/2013 | 94 Comments

al n juju (226x300)_1.jpg(CNS): The Cayman Islands governor has given his official nod to the country’s new political leader and has formally appointed Alden McLaughlin to the post of premier. The appointment came following news that the former premier, who only recently resigned from the UDP, has joined the PPM. Duncan Taylor said Tuesday that after he was informed that Juliana O'Connor-Connolly had joined the PPM and all of the other elected members of the PPM were offering him their support, the governor could make the constitutional appointment and he congratulated the new leader. Although McLaughlin's PPM team was by far the largest political party or group returned to the LA after last Wednesday's general election, with nine seats the Progressives were one short of a majority.

McLaughlin needed the support of at least ten MLAs before the governor could appoint him as premier. The news that Juliana O'Connor-Connolly had actually joined the PPM cleared the way for McLaughlin to be appointed.

“Iwas today informed that the Hon Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, MLA, JP has joined the People’s Progressive Movement. This, in effect, gives the PPM a majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly,” Taylor said.

Although O’Connor-Connolly had reserved any commitment to joining the party, last weekend she had offered her support publicly for the Progressives administration when she agreed to accept the speaker’s nomination. As the former PNA candidate made the decision Tuesday to become a card carrying member of the PPM, McLaughlin had enough support to formally become premier.

“I subsequently received a recommendation from all the elected members of that party as to who they would wish to be appointed Premier. In line with their recommendation and under Section 49 (2) of the Constitution, I have this afternoon appointed the Hon. Alden M. McLaughlin, Jr,MLA, MBE, JP as Premier of the Cayman Islands,” Taylor added. “I would like to congratulate the new premier on his appointment.”

Following the recent turmoil between the UK’s representative and the first premier of Cayman, McKeeva Bush, McLaughlin has said he hopes to improve on the relationship. The interim government led by O’Connor-Connolly made the first steps after Bush’s arrest in December to improve the soured UK-Cayman relationship. 

During the campaign McLaughlin spoke at length about the need to improve the relationship and work closely with the UK to address Cayman’s financial situation. He said he hopes his Cabinet can talk with the UK officials at the FCO about the long term budget plans so the PPM government can begin to lift the austerity tax package, giving the local economy a chance at recovery.

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Rivers to get labour ministry

| 28/05/2013 | 108 Comments

rivers on hustings.JPG(CNS): Although the full details of the new PPM Cabinet will be announced this evening, newly elected West Bay representative Tara Rivers has finally accepted a post in the new government and said she will take the job of labour minister, which includes the new National Workforce Development Agency as well as youth and gender affairs. Although Rivers spoke of joining a coalition government, there are no other C4C or independent members in McLaughlin’s Cabinet but it appears that the two George Town C4C members will be joining the government on the back-bench and could be given supporting junior ministry jobs.

Having been given a clear message by her constituents last night to take the cabinet position, Rivers said Tuesday lunchtime that she had accepted the invitation. “I have the ability and the necessary experience to be Minister for Labour,” Rivers claimed when she revealed that she had told Alden McLaughlin what ministerial responsibilities she wanted following his open invitation to her.

Encouraged by the PPM leader and premier in waiting's desire to form an inclusive government, she said she looked forward to working with the Progressives in Cabinet, although she would remain and independent member of government.

“The leader of the Progressives advised that I am under no obligation to join the Progressives and I do not intend to do so,” Rivers stated, although she will be bound by the rules of Cabinet responsibility.

Talking about support from the other Cabinet ministers in order to be successful, Rivers still seemed concerned about being the only independent in the Cabinet in statement released on Tuesday. “It is important that the public recognizes that it may be challenging for me to operate as a lone independent minister in a PPM dominated Cabinet. As a member of Cabinet, however, I expect to be given the necessary support from the Progressives to fulfill my responsibilities,” Rivers added.

Along with her C4C running mates, Rivers had held out for more than four days trying to negotiate for more, even though McLaughlin did not need Rivers in his Cabinet to form government but had actually wanted to include her specifically. Having finally recognised that the offer was not going to change and given the emphatic support for taking the job, Rivers finally accepted.

Rivers said she had also accepted the meaningful involvement and participation offered to other independent members in government, which she said meant there would be a minority coalition government.

Rivers stated that she would not jeopardize her independence. “I am committed to giving due consideration to the objectives and policies of the Progressives as an independent member of Cabinet, and I anticipate that I will be respected, supported and given equal opportunity to put forward and pursue my own ideas,” Rivers added.

The new premier will be holding a press conference at 6pm this evening to reveal where the rest of the portfolios and departments will be going and which of his PPM team will take the seventh Cabinet seat.

Check back to CNS for full coverage.

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Rivers accepts with strings

| 28/05/2013 | 52 Comments

monday 034 (226x300).jpg(CNS): Despite the unequivocal message that was delivered to Tara Rivers on Tuesday night to accept the Cabinet position regardless, the C4C candidate who broke the UDP’s West Bay stranglehold at the election did not accept the PPM leader’s offer of a Cabinet seat until the eleventh hour and has reportedly done so with strings attached. The conditions on which Rivers has said she will accept have not yet been revealed but the premier in waiting, Alden McLaughlin, postponed this morning’s press briefing in order to discuss the issues with his team. McLaughlin said Rivers wishes to bring the other two C4C candidates elected in George Town with her but it is not clear in what capacity.

The PPM leader has postponed the conference, which will be broadcast live during tonight’s news hour on Cayman27 and Radio Cayman, when he will announce his government, with or without Rivers, ahead of Wednesday’s swearing in of all members into the country’s parliament.

“I have just received a response from Ms Rivers proposing that all three C4C representatives will join the Progressives government subject to certainconditions,” the premier elect said on Tuesday morning.

McLaughlin has made it perfectly clear that there is only one Cabinet seat available and because he wants Rivers specifically he has held out until the last minute for the West Bay candidate, who romped home just one hundred votes behind the eight term political veteran and dominant district member, McKeeva Bush.

However, Rivers has also been holding out for more seatsfor her C4C colleagues, with whom she spent Friday in closed door meetings along with the two other independent candidates, Arden McLean and Ezzard Miller. It is understood the five signed an agreement to push the PPM for more Cabinet seats or look for cracks in the PPM team and open the possibility of a coalition under an alternative leadership to McLaughlin.

When the Progressive stood fast, it is understood that the negotiations switched to the independents trying to get a bigger slice of government from McLaughlin on the back of the offer made to Rivers. However, the PPM leader has held steady to his specific offer.

Repeatedly declining what many observers have said is an extremely generous one, given that his party won the largest amount of seats in the House, Rivers finally said yes before 9am Tuesday. However, this was not the definite 'yes' which some 400 constituents had literally begged her to take at a public meeting on Monday night in the district.

Although Rivers was offered the Cabinet seat without having to join the PPM and has been given the option to choose from a range of portfolios, it is not clear exactly what strings Rivers has in turn attached or how she wants McLaughlin to accommodate her team mates, as he has said there will be no Cabinet seats for any other candidates.

This is not surprising as during the latter part of the campaign Rivers’ C4C colleagues, Winston Connolly and Roy McTaggart, both said they would not support McLaughlin as leader, as did returning North Side MLA Ezzard Miller. Yesterday Arden McLean (East End) denied saying he would not work with McLaughlin as premier, though the former PPM member left the party last year as a result of differences between him and the Progressive leader.

Despite the revelations by Miller that the group had signed an agreement to work together to prevent giving McLaughlin the majority he needed in order to get more the group, he has been reluctant to admit exactly what the stand-off was about.

Rivers said last night that she was “disappointed” that McLaughlin had publicly announced his offer to her before she had decided, as it put her in a “difficult position”. 

However, she did not fully explain what she meant by that during the West Bay public meeting, where it was overwhelmingly clear that her constituents wanted Rivers to accept McLaughlin’s offer. McLaughlin made the announcement when he revealed that he was able to form a government, as former premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly had accepted the speaker’s position.

Although he does not need Rivers in his government, McLaughlin has continued to hold the offer open to her in the hope that she will accept, giving West Bay a voice in government and adding female representation to a male dominated Cabinet.

Yesterday McTaggart, who was present along with the rest of the C4C’s slate of candidates last night at Rivers’ town hall meeting, claimed that he had no influence over Rivers decision, despite the deal that the five had signed. 

“I am aware that Tara has been offered a cabinet position by Mr McLaughlin. To the best of my knowledge, she is considering the offer and will make her own decision whether to accept or decline the offer. She is under no obligation to seek the advice/counsel of the C4C,” he said.

Meanwhile, Connolly also made it clear in a short statement released in the wake of River’s ‘strings-attached acceptance’ that he still wanted to see a coalition government, despite the fact that the PPM won and was already in a position to form the government.

“It is my duty to the people of the Cayman Islands to work in a strong PPM-led coalition government which puts independents in roles that are meaningful and allows the views of the people to be properly expressed and duly considered,” Connolly said but he did not indicate if this meant that Rivers was still holding out for a ministerial position for him or McTaggart.

Whether the PPM accepts the as yet unrevealed conditions that Rivers has attached to the offer, her decision is expected to be revealed during tonight’s conference, when the ministry that she will head up if she has accepted, as well as who the remaining PPM Cabinet member will be. If Rivers’ conditions prove too stringent, however, and the new premier-to-be forms his government without Rivers, the second elected member for her constituency will have some explaining to do to the people who elected her and last night emphatically encouraged her to take the job.

So far, McLaughlin has confirmed he will be taking on the new public affairs ministry with his premiership, Marco Archer will be the finance minister, Wayne Panton the financial services minister and Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell will take on tourism and district administration. In addition, Osbourne Bodden has been selected as a minister but his portfolios have not yet been confirmed. With education, health, community affairs, environment, planning and public works all available, Rivers is being given a broad and interesting opportunity to fulfill her campaign promises.

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George Town girl is Caribbean’s first top model

| 28/05/2013 | 69 Comments

treveen (210x300).jpg(CNS): After three months of tough competition, Cayman’s Treveen Stewart has taken the first ever Caribbean Top Model title. The George Town native beat out some 22 other girls to win the finale of the TV reality showed, based on the original America’s Next Top Model, hosted by supermodel Tyra Banks. Stewart took the title in the last show Monday night from Stephany Francisca from Curaçao. Check back to CNS for more on Treveen’s win later.

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Local woman sues supermarket over painful slip

| 28/05/2013 | 23 Comments

images_46.jpg(CNS): A West Bay woman has filed a law suit against Foster’s Supermarket after she slipped in a pool of water by a freezer inside the store and damaged her back. Jann Smith claims that she is now unable to walk and suffers debilitating pain as a result of the back injury she has sustained and is asking the courts to award her medical costs, loss of earnings, legal fees and compensation. In what could turn out to be an expensive suit for Foster’s should the local store lose, Smith claims that the supermarket was negligent as the floor was particularly dangerous when wet and there were no signs alerting shoppers to the pool of water that had accumulated by the freezer.

According to the suit filed in the Cayman Islands Grand Court on 10 May by Hampson and Company on behalf of Smith, at around 9:30 in the morning on 13 May 2010 she was shopping for groceries at the supermarket and walking in a careful manner when suddenly and without warning she slipped in a pool of water and/or ice on the floor in front of a freezer containing bags of ice, falling backwards and landing heavily on her lower back and buttocks, injuring her low back.

“The presence of water and/or ice on the floor represented an unusual danger to the Plaintiff of which she was unaware and a breach of the Defendant's duty of care to ensure that the Supermarket and its operation and activities, were reasonably safe,”  the suit claims, pointing to a failure by Fosters to maintain the floor of its supermarket in a dry and reasonably safe condition for shoppers. Among other issues, the suit claims Foster's had used flooring which it ought to have known was slippery or hazardous when wet and provided no warning of the spill.

At the time of the injury Smith was taken to hospital and was treated at the emergency department and has regularly re-attended for further treatment over the last two years.

Smith states that she has undergone extensive investigation and treatment of her injuries including x-rays of her spine and an MRI and a number of epidural injections and more recently facet joint injections, all of which has provided only temporary relief for her pain.
She states that she now suffers from chronic pain in her lower back radiating into both legs; headache, neck, chest and knee pain; numbness and tingling in her toes; and limited tolerance for standing, walking or sitting.

The suit states that Smith is unable to walk any distance without pain, but equally sitting for any period of time brings on low back pain, and she has to get up and move around every 15-20 minutes, as advised in the Pain Management Programme. Her sleep is interfered with by the pain and she uses pillows at night to try to ease the stress on her lower back and to get comfortable.  A doctor stated on behalf of Smith’s claim that her pain and injuries, which are now chronic, are a direct result of the slip.

Her pain has prevented her from working, the claim states, not least because Smith was employed as a caregiver, which includes heavy lifting, bending and working in confined spaces, the suit states, before asking the judge to award $250,000 in loss of earnings, medical and legal costs and compensation.

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Local lab gets accreditation for testing

| 28/05/2013 | 0 Comments

HSA Forensic Lab2 (231x300).jpg(CNS): The local forensic laboratory has recently received international accreditation for its toxicology testing, making Cayman the first English-speaking island in the Caribbean to receive this high level of recognition. The forensic laboratory is required for many different types of analysis including forensic DNS and paternity testing at the HSA. It is a multi-functional entity servicing individual patients, law enforcement and also the corporate world, which can use the laboratory for their employee drug testing as part of their drug free workplace programmes. 

The Cayman Islands Health Services Authority’s (HSA) forensic scientist Alan Glasgow said that rigorous examination of the lab by US based Forensic Quality Service (FQS) auditors led to this important accreditation. He said that

“Here at the forensic laboratory we have always upheld the highest level of standards,” said Glasgow. “We are pleased that the laboratory passed with excellent grading and had no major non-conformance marks.” The lab boss said that the community can be confident now in the local laboratory for confidential testing.

FQS is the longest established provider of accreditation to forensic testing agencies in the United States and the FQS ISO/IEC 17025 standard which the HSA’s laboratory’s toxicology testing received is the highest level of international accreditation that can be obtained. In order for the HSA’s laboratory to qualify, it was subjected to a random review and a full audit of case studies by a team of experienced FQS forensic scientists. In order for the HSA’s forensic laboratory to retain this coveted accreditation, FQS auditors will have access to the laboratory annually as routine maintenance. 

Lizzette Yearwood, Chief Executive Officer at the HSA said that this important accolade for the laboratory meant the Authority was able to offer the best quality service.

“Customers can have complete confidence in the results that are produced from the HSA’s forensic lab because the lab is held to the very highest standards through the FQS accreditation,” she said, adding that this accreditation was not a new event for the HSA’s forensic laboratory.
“The forensic lab’s DNA services, including paternity testing, have been accredited at the HSA since 2009 and have to meet the United States FBI standards,” Yearwood. “The latest FQS accreditation will stand alongside the existing accreditation and together they serve to promote the HSA’s forensic lab as one that meets the highest international standards ahead of most other comparable labs in the region.”   

For more information about the Forensic Laboratory, contact or call 345-244-2855.

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