Archive for October, 2013

Port gets OK from Cabinet

| 30/10/2013 | 6 Comments

(CNS): The tourism minister has revealed that his government colleagues have backed plans to move ahead with the development of two berthing piers in George Town to accommodate up to four cruise ships. The ministers reportedly approved the Outline Business Case (OBC) for the project in their Cabinet meeting yesterday and the document will be released for public engagement. Government has set a public meeting regarding the plans for the cruise project for Tuesday night at the Mary Miller Hall, when it will review the Outline Business Case, inform the public of the overall status of the project, and confirm the proposed procurement process, which will soon get underway. Read more and see report on CNS Business

Go to article

Continue Reading

The Caymanian employment problem

| 30/10/2013 | 85 Comments

In October 2006 I wrote an email to friends entitled "I am a frightened Caymanian". This was in regards to what I saw to be a major problem with the infamous 'rollover policy', and since then I have seen the effects of that policy play out. I have since sold all my investments and have left the island, living in Dubai, UAE and now experiencing Saudi Arabia with my family.

It is both fascinating and extremely rewarding on so many levels living as a expat in really foreign lands (i.e. non-western countries), but for the past four years I have kept a close watch on the island taking an economic beating, which was not unlike the rest of the world, including Dubai. However, Dubai has made a remarkable recovery, due partly to the unrest in neighboring Arabic countries and open immigration and economic policies.  By the way, Dubai is a tax haven with an incredible tourist market and a population of which only 11% are local. Sound familiar?

The reality is there is no quick fix for Cayman, so we have to get used to it. Second reality, no elected member has the guts to do what it takes to fix the problem because it will seem that it is getting worse before it gets better. So here a few solutions I think will work, based partly on some of Dubai's model.

Give foreigners full rein to come in and start companies. Yes, I said it. But here are the conditions that are paramount: each company must have a Caymanian "sponsor". This is not an investor; a sponsor is a Caymanian that gets a fee or percentage of profits to hold the license for the particular company. Encourage 'free zones' and offer fast track 2-day business license setups. The second major rule is that  a minimum 20% of that company's employees must be qualified locals.

This model accomplishes a number of  things:

  1. Reverses a stagnant/declining  population — more people onthe island, more money gets spent so everyone benefits.
  2. Increases foreign investments and competition, so prices will fall for goods and services.
  3. It keeps money in the local sponsor's pocket and in the country.
  4. Increases local employment.
  5. It will stop "fronting" by making it legal for a Caymanians to benefit legally and directly from a foreigner opening a business locally.

Caymanians need to get over the bizarre idea that "they" (the foreigners) are taking over "our" island. Yes, we have one example of a very large investor (Dart) who has taken a major economic foot hold in our Island. However, I can assure you that if it was not for the presence of Dart and Caymana Bay pumping money into the economy, we would be in a much deeper economic hole than we are in right now.

So, let's look at the facts. Most "Caymanians" were expats at one point. The large majority of current Caymanians are marrying expatriates, author included. In other words, the so-called "real Caymanian" is a myth. Ask yourself, what is a real American? A culture is only held by what a group of people who chose to practice from their past. I have no idea how to dance a quadrille. I challenge any  reader to ask any Caymanian under age 30 to dance it or make a piece of rope or hat from silver thatch. If you find three of your friends, there is still hope and call me wrong. I know this sound harsh but it is the cold reality of the world we now live in.

All countries are becoming globalized. I am now working/investing in one of the only countries in the world (Saudi Arabia) that did not tolerate mixing of the cultures and they are now paying the price of this extreme segregation. They are now encouraging foreigners to come in to invest and work to train the population to an international level because they have realized that much of the population needs to change if they are to compete globally — and this despite the country's enormous oil wealth.

I respect  everyone's view and passion on this subject, but we as a country have it wrong and you are sadly mistaken if you think the answer is stopping people from making  this country that they love part of their home.  The past seven years have shown us this reality. I said it seven years ago and I will say it again: no one wants to invest in a country in which  they don't see a future. There is no confidence in the island; there are no new investments; there are no jobs being created; people are leaving to find opportunities elsewhere; less people are spending; government costs have increased; with less money for the people, crime is increasing. Welcome to the new Cayman Islands!

The rollover policy does not make companies employ more Caymanians. Why do I say this? Because a company that has an employee rolled over does one of two things. If they are able, they continue to employ that same person but from outside the country for one year. Many jobs can be done remotely these days, thanks to technology. The other option is to replace that ex-pat with another ex-pat and maybe at a cheaper cost due to the highly qualified yet cheaper workforce possible from many Asian countries. This will not change.

The cold reality is that if a company has to pay a Caymanian twice the amount for every job, plus the outrageous operating cost, they will just go somewhere else. Trust me, we are not that special as a nation. White sandy beaches are all over the world and those countries are opening their arms for new businesses to come.

I know I am mixing an employment and an immigration issue but I suggest to you that they are one in the same and cannot be viewed separately. Ask yourself, would the rollover policy be this big of an issue if every Caymanian had a job and was prosperous? 

Continue Reading

Cayman to host competitors for women’s cup draw

| 30/10/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) said the official draw and logo unveiling for the CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship 2014 here in the Cayman Island will take place next Tuesday at a Seven Mile Beach hotel. The draw, which will sort the eight finalists into two groups of four, will be presided over by CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb and conducted by General Secretary Enrique Sanz. Seven teams from across the region will join Cayman for the championship in January next year as the islands enjoy the benefit once again of having their own football boss at the top of the world football stage.

All eight squads are hoping to become one of the three regional teams to join host Canada at the 2014 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup, to be hosted by that CONCACAF member nation.

“We look forward to our return to the Cayman Islands, this time for the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 tournament,” said Jeffrey Webb, President of CONCACAF. “As a confederation we are proud to be the center of international women’s football in 2014 and 2015, when we will be the gracious hosts to all of FIFA’s official Women’s World Cup events in a short span of 17 months. These global events will help accelerate the continuous development of women’s football in our region.”

CONCACAF will host all of FIFA’s Women’s World Cup events in 2014 and 2015, starting with the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica from March 15 to April 15, 2014, followed by the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada from August 5 to August 20, 2014 and culminating with the FIFA Women’s World Cup from June 6 to July 5, 2015.

Representatives of the eight participating teams set to take part in the CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship – host Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, México, Trinidad & Tobago and the United States – have been invited for the live event

The draw and logo unveiling will draw take place at 6 pm Cayman time at the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach and will be streamed live on CONCACAF.com.

Continue Reading

Many TLEPs fail to show

| 30/10/2013 | 128 Comments

(CNS): With mixed messages coming from the immigration department and the premier’s office yesterday regarding the more than 1,500 workers believed to still be in Cayman on Term Limit Exemption permits it is not clear exactly how many people have failed to regularize their immigration status but more than 600 people could now be here illegally. The chief immigration officer told the TV station yesterday afternoon that she was very concerned over the low turnout of TLEP holders at the immigration department to have their status updated. This would allow them to work by operation of law if they had jobs or get a visitor’s extension visa if they planned to leave. The premier’s office said around 870 people had been processed.

All TLEPs expired on 28 October, but with the new Immigration Amendment Bill gazetted into Law on Friday 25 October,holders who have not yet reached year nine can now re-enter the work permit regime. However, they had a very short window of opportunity to go to immigration to have their status here legalized and get either a Working by Operation of the Law (WOL) stamp or a visitor’s visa, depending on their working status. The window closed at 6pm Tuesday and it is understood that around 600 people did not show up to either the immigration headquarters in Elgin Avenue or to the special emergency processing centre which was set up at the Mary Miller Hall.

TLEP holders have been given the chance to have those permits extended for just 45 days, in which time their employers can go through the process of applying for a new work permit for them if they cannot find a suitably qualified Caymanian willing or able to fill the post. Government has said that the Department of Immigration will work closely with the National Workforce Development Agency to identify willing and able Caymanians to fill any position held by foreign workers, which includes those previously on a TLEP.

“Yesterday was a very busy day for immigration staff,” said Premier Alden McLaughlin. “While some people had to wait outside for a while at headquarters, the system was fair and efficient.”

Although those here for eight years can now apply for permanent residency, government is hoping that its new more stringent and robust application process will deter many from applying as most will not be eligible under the new points system.

Continue Reading

Cops ask for car sightings

| 30/10/2013 | 13 Comments

(CNS): As investigations into the unexplained killing of 35-year-old Patrick Leonard Williamson, a.k.a. ‘Carlos’, continue, the police are asking anyone who saw him or his car on Friday night Saturday morning to come forward.  The Jamaican national, who was working and living in Cayman, was last seen alive at around 3:30 on Saturday morning in the vicinity of Eastern Avenue and Courts Road, where he had dropped off friends and was close to where he also lived. Williamson was driving a silver Toyota Corolla 145 228 (left) and had been out with friends to a number of George Town bars, including Meringue Town, Bananas and Nectar.

Detectives believe Williamson was involved in an argument with another man at the last bar and they are appealing for anyone who was at Nectar and witnessed it to call the police.

Williamson was reported missing on Sunday and his body was discovered by the landowner and recovered from a pond behind his home in Spruce Lane at around 7:00 Monday morning. Although the police have not yet stated a cause of death, they are treating his death as suspicious and have begun a murder investigation. Williamson has no known connections to any criminality and police say they are following a number of lines of enquiry as they try to piece together Williamson’s final moments before his death. No arrests have been made in the case so far.

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

Continue Reading

Lawyers try to keep lid on FOI court case

| 30/10/2013 | 20 Comments

(CNS): The battle between the governor’s office and the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) over the publication of a report regarding the ill-fated internal police investigation, Operation Tempura, moves into the courts today but lawyers are fighting to keep the public away. The legal team representing the governor will apply for the judicial review of Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert’s decision, which ordered the office to release the report, to be behind closed doors. The costly ongoing battle, triggered by the refusal by former governor Duncan Taylor to release the contentious document, is being continued by Helen Kilpatrick, the new governor, who hopes the court will help the UK keep a lid on what is believed to be an embarrassing record of what happened surrounding the bungled police probe.

This is also the first legal challenge that Dilbert has faced regarding any of her decisions. While other authorities have contemplated pursuing their legal right to have the commissioner’s decisions reviewed by a judge, the governor’s officer, ironically given its position on good governance and transparency, is the first to go all the way to the courtroom.

The document in question is the report of an investigation which was carried out into the entire police operation after the lead investigator, Martin Bridger, filed a complaint about how the probe was handled.

The ongoing saga of Operation Tempura, which had a terrible impact on the morale of the RCIPS, was built on the alleged mistaken belief of two reporters at a local media house, Cayman Net News, that RCIPS Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis was leaking vital police information to the paper’s publisher, the late Desmond Seales.

The twists and turns of the investigation, which found within weeks that Ennis was not leaking information, went off on a tangent that led tothe downfall of senior police officers and saw a high court judge unlawfully arrested and awarded significant damages from the public purse. The result was a catalogue of failed criminal cases relating to the probe and a number of law suits, some of which resulted in costly settlements. Others are ongoing and civil suits between Bridger and the Cayman authorities and former police commissioner Stuart Kernohan continue to drain the already cash strapped public purse some six years after the original covert operation first began.

While most of the details, allegations, counter allegations and other issues relating to the bungled investigation have found their way into the public domain, the governor’s office, at what appears to be the request of the Foreign Office in London, is continuing its bid to try and keep a lid on this document as it could be embarrassing.

Allegations regarding the probe now focus on both former governor Stuart Jack, who held the post at the time and ordered the probe, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin and the UK’s overseas territories security advisor, Larry Covington, and exactly how much they knew about Kernohan’s plans to use the newspaper’s reporters to get into Seales’ office to look for evidence of the suspected leaks.

Kernohan has always insisted that all three of his superiors knew and were fully briefed on his plans, a point that none of the men saw fit to tell Bridger, who embarked on an enquiry based on the false premise that Kernohan and one of his senior police officers, John Jones, had organized and authorized an unlawful entry into the Net News offices.

Operation Tempura has already cost the public purse millions of dollars and caused embarrassment to many people who were sucked into the probe. Efforts by Duncan Taylor and now Kilpatrick to keep a lid on more potential embarrassment continues to be a costly exercise that, given how muchof the report has been leaked, appears to be increasingly futile.

The hearing is set for two days in Court 5. Arguments to keep the case closed were scheduled to begin at 10am Wednesday.

Continue Reading

Still no sign of EPS report

| 30/10/2013 | 21 Comments

(CNS): In his latest report on the state of government’s book-keeping the auditor general has found that progress is being made towards clearing its backlog but there is still no sign of a full report from government on what it did with the public’s money. While most entities are managing to meet relevant statutory deadlines, Alastair Swarbrick said there were still challenges with the quality of information submitted to his office. Despite a decade of problems relating to public accounting and significant resources being invested in trying to address them, it is ten years since the government last produced an Entire Public Sector consolidated account of its expenditure. Not only that but more than a quarter of public authorities still failed to submit enough information for audit of the 2011/12 financial year.

By 30 September of this year, fifteen months after the financial year end, audits for twelve government entities have still not been completed for the year ending 30 June 2012, which continues to prevent government from publishing the full picture of how it spends tax payer’s money. Despite the requirements under the Public Management and Finance Law, the government’s bean counters still seem incapable of following the law anddoing their job for a catalogue of reasons

The auditor general also reported that there are still nine audits from 2005 through 2011 that are still not completed but he said the backlog was at the point where it should no longer impact the ability of the government to become current with its books.

Swarbrick said he intended to report more comprehensively on the outcomes of his audits of the financial statements for the year ending 30 June 2012 in the near future, including the situation regarding the full consolidate report of the entire public sector.

"There continues to be progress in the timeliness of financial reporting, with increasing numbers being completed within the statutory timescales or significantly earlier than had previously been the case,” he said.  “However there continues to be a number of entities where challenges still exist to moving forward the timeliness of financial reporting,” Swarbrick warned. His office, he said, would continue to work with government to address the issues, and the goal was to “move forward the quality and timeliness of financial reporting to ultimately enable accountability and transparency in government finances to be restored.”

Of the completed audits for 2011/12, three ministries, the Cabinet office and nine statutory authorities still received qualified opinions. In addition, only twelve of the public authorities who have completed last year’s audits have had those tabled in the Legislative Assembly, enabling the public to see the state of financial affairs for those government entities.

See the full report below or visit the Office of the Auditor General website.

Continue Reading

Inmate gets 12 months extra time for jail break

| 30/10/2013 | 15 Comments

(CNS): Despite being on the run for less than one week, 22-year-old Chadwick Bradford Dale will serve one more year in prison following his conviction for escaping lawful custody. Magistrate Grace Donalds added the 12 months onto Dale’s existing six year sentence for a violent robbery last week. During the sentencing hearing the inmate had no lawyer to represent him and made his own pleas in mitigation, pointing out that it was his first time escaping. Dale, a Jamaican national, was one of three men who escaped from HMP Northward in August via the kitchen block and by cutting the perimeter fences. Accompanying Dale on his short lived bid for freedom was local father and son duo, Steve and Marcus Manderson.

The first of the three men to be found, Dale was recaptured in Cayman Kai, the popular tourist area of North Side, following a massive man hunt for the three men, who were all serving time for violent offences.

Steve Manderson was the next to be recaptured, two weeks after what was his sixth jail break. He was also arrested in North Side but in the Frank Sound area. Manderson has not yet entered pleas to the charges of escaping, but given that he is serving mandatory life sentence for murder, any sentence imposed will have to run concurrently.

His son Marcus Manderson was serving mandatory ten year sentence for possession of an unlicensed firearm after he was convicted of carrying a modified flare gun, which a jury found to be a lethal weapon. He has now been on the run for eleven weeks and the police stated recently that they have reason to believe that the younger Manderson has since left the island. Local authorities are working with regional law enforcement to find him. 

Continue Reading

Misick to go home to TCI Brazilian court rules

| 30/10/2013 | 12 Comments

(CNS): The former premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands will be heading home as soon as possible, TCI attorney general has stated following a ruling by Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court Tuesday. The TCI government was successful in extraditing Michael Misick (47) despite the opposition to that extradition by Misick’s lawyers. The Brazilian court was unanimous in its decision following legal arguments that the beleaguered leader would be returned to his home country. Misick is accused of being at the heart of a corruption scandal that UK investigators have been pursing for almost four years. The former TCI leader has denied all of the accusations made against him and has yet to be formally charged with a crime.

“The decision of the Brazilian Courts today (29 October) to extradite Michael Misick is welcome as it is in the best interests of the TCI that allegations of wrongdoing are thoroughly investigated,” Hew Shepheard, the TCI attorney general, said in a short statement released by his office. “Michael Misick’s lawyers vigorously opposed his extradition, but after hearing arguments on both sides, the court was unanimous in its decision. Arrangements will be made to return him to the TCI as soon as possible. He faces trial in the TCI Supreme Court on a number of serious charges relating to corruption and maladministration in the TCI during his time in office.”

Misick’s lawyers had argued that he was a victim of political persecution and should be granted asylum but the Brazilian court did not agree. The former leader is alleged to be at the heart of the corruption scandal which has rocked the British overseas territory and led to the suspension of the local government and the imposition of direct rule by the United Kingdom. This followed a commission of inquiry by Sir Robin Auld, who found evidence of systemic corruption in the islands.

While Misick has always denied the allegations, he left his home islands soon after the investigation began in earnest. Misick disappeared for some time but an Interpol warrant for him was issued and he was eventually arrested in Sao Paulo, Brazil  in December last year. At first, Misick insisted he was happy to go back to TCI when he found conditions in his Brazilian jail unbearable but when the UK authorities began an extradition hearing, Misick resisted the application.

Continue Reading

Lead robbers get 14yrs jail

| 29/10/2013 | 25 Comments

(CNS): With two trial judges and a variety of convictions between them, the five men charged in the Cayman National Bank and WestStar armed robberies last year were sentenced Tuesday for their part in the crimes. David Tomasa, considered the mastermind in both robberies, and Andre Burton were handed 14 year sentences. Ryan Edwards, who was found guilty of aiding and abetting in the WestStar crime, was still given a 13 year sentence as he was one of the gunmen in the bank robbery. Although George Mignot was acquitted in the TV office hold-up, he received 12 years for the CNB robbery. Rennie Cole, who was accused of being a decoy at the bank, was given nine years for his part in the criminal gang.

Tomasa (33), Burton (28) and Edwards (37) were first sentenced for their part in the WestStar trial by visiting judge, Justice Alastair Malcolm. It was then down to local judge, Justice Alex Henderson, to deal with both the Cayman National Bank robbery and the complex issue of the totality of the sentences following Justice Malcolm’s decision. Although three of the men were convicted of committing two distinct robberies around one month apart, the court had to give consideration to the overall time the men would serve in prison.

The visiting judge gave both Tomasa and Burton eleven years for their robbery conviction in the TV hold-up and five years to Edwards for his supporting role in the case. Malcolm noted that Tomasa, a married man with three children who was the ring leader, had no previous convictions and had been of good character. His wife, who had spoken as a witness for him, said he had lived a good and decent life until he turned his hand to robbery, makingit “even more distressing that a he had committed such a crime”. But the judge noted that in the present climate the courts must do everything it could to protect both people and businesses from such attacks.

Following the sentencing ruling by Justice Malcolm on Tuesday morning, Justice Alex Henderson then gave his decision the same afternoon. Based on guidelines and legal authorities, as well as the requirement in the law to consider the entirety of the time the three men would serve, he bumped both Tomasa and Burton’s sentences up to 14 years and that of Edwards to 13 years. Edwards was also handed an additional concurrent sentence of five years for removing cash stolen in the bank heist to Jamaica.

Justice Henderson said that the bank robbery was the biggest ever in Cayman. More than $500,000 was stolen, representing around one sixth of the local bank’s profits per annum, most of which has never been recovered. However, around $40,000 was found on Edwards when he was arrested in Jamaica and some $100,000 was dropped by the robbers as they fled from the heist after their getaway vehicle was blocked by the bank’s armoured truck.

Although he acknowledged that the robbers in the bank heist did make some errors in their otherwise well-planned robbery, Justice Henderson described it as a substantially, sophisticated crime which was executed quickly and efficiently. He said the five men had worked as a team of professional bank robbers.

Before passing sentence, the judge also recommended the deportation of both Rennie Cole and Ryan Edwards, who are both Jamaican nationals, once they had served their sentences. The other three men involved in the crimes are all Caymanian.

As the police were never able to recover the weapons used in the crimes, the crown was only able to charge the robbers with possession of imitation firearms with intent. However, both judges pointed out that the victims of the robberies did not know whether the weapons were real or not or if they were loaded when they were pointed in their direction and the men threatened them and demanded the cash.

In each case where the men were charged with possessing fake guns they were handed down concurrent sentences of seven years.

Continue Reading