Archive for April 11th, 2014

Ex-senior cop takes over customs enforcement

| 11/04/2014 | 10 Comments

(CNS): Former senior officer in the RCIPS Marlon Bodden has been appointed deputy collector of customs in charge of enforcement. With some 31 years’ experience in the police his law enforcement background is seen as a key factor in his appointment as he third deputy in the important department, where he will oversee the work of seven sections including the K9 unit, FSI scanning unit, container inspections, fraud, intelligence, narcotics and firearms, known as cnet and the marine unit. Collector of Customs Samantha Bennett welcomed Bodden saying she was delighted that an officer of his calibre had joined the team. “He brings in a wealth of experience in several lawenforcement disciplines,” the customs boss stated.

“Here at Customs, we have embarked on exciting new challenges, including a newly expanded Customs Law and I am sure we will be able to use all of Mr. Bodden’s abilities and talents for the betterment of our people,” Bennett added.

Bodden said he was thrilled to join the team at the revenue earning and law enforcement agency and was looking forward to taking on the new challenge and playing an active role. “I am also keen on focusing on the synergies that must unite our key law enforcement agencies in the fight against illegal activities,” he added.

Having joined the RCIPS as a constable back in 1982 he rose to the rank of a detective superintendent and had at one time or another headed up most of the main police departments from the drugs Task Force to CID. During his years with the police Bodden undertook a number of training courses in the United Kingdom; the United States, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Canada; Jamaica; Barbados; Chile; Costa Rica and the British Virgin Islands to keep up his management and tactical skills.

Subjects covered varied from: crisis interventions, police media relations, as well as narcotics and firearms investigations, to anti-corruption, crisis intervention, mass casualty and negotiations management.

He also went on to successfully complete his law degree at the Cayman Islands Law School and completed the classroom portion of the Professional Practice Course. Bodden has also received the Police Long Service award and recognition from overseas entities such as the Royal Humane Society Award for Bravery (Humanitarian Efforts) from Princess Alexandra in 1986, when he undertook an in-water rescue of two young children in the Spotts area. The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office in San Antonio, Texas, USA, also presented Bodden with its Police Officers’ Award in 2005 for his unwavering support of law enforcement.

After retiring from the RCIPS he took up a senior civilian position with the Labour and Pensions Office as Deputy Director, a post he held until his Customs appointment. During his time there officials said he contributed significantly to professionalising the leadership and management structure of the Department, as well as the Labour Tribunals process.

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Court goes easy on brawling jealous chef

| 11/04/2014 | 21 Comments

(CNS): An executive chef from one of Cayman’s leading restaurants was given 120 hours community service by a judge Thursday after he broke a man’s jaw in a jealous rage during a fight at a West Bay Road gas station. Michael Fischetti, a chef at Ortanique restaurant in Camana Bay, punched Edenis Miguel Rives hard enough to knock him out and break his jaw, even though the man was trying to get away. Fischetti was convicted following a three day judge-alone trial before Justice Swift in February in connection with the fight last March, when the chef over-reacted after seeing his girlfriend embrace male friends at the gas station in greeting.

Although Fischetti was facing a possible custodial sentence, the court found in his favour because of a degree of provocation and his previous good character. In addition to the 120 hours of voluntary work the chef will now be required to undertake in the community, he was also ordered to pay his victim’s medical bills of more than $3,000.

See related story here: Chef-found-guilty-jealousy-fuelled-brawl

 

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Employment Ministry to track job seekers’ progress

| 11/04/2014 | 28 Comments

(CNS): The Employment Ministry is developing an assessment process for job seekers who want help from an employment services officer in their search for work that will include psycho-social assessment, mental health screening, career assessment and an assessment of employability skills, Minister Tara Rivers said in a statement to the Legislative Assembly Thursday. She said that this process, which should be in place by the end of April, was in response to feedback from employers and job seekers about the discrepancy between the skills an employer wants and the level of skills present within a segment of Cayman's unemployed population.

She said the process would help to identify the level and type of support and services required to move job seekers closer to the job market. To support the intake and assessment process, the minister said, the Computer Services Department is building a professional development interface, which will record the activities that the job seeker has committed to engage in.

“This interface will track the progress of job seekers and hold them accountable to engaging in the work necessary to address their respective barriers to employment. This interface will also facilitate the opportunity for online case management of individuals who are seeking support and services from multiple government agencies,” Rivers said.

Rivers said that a review of the work of the National Workforce Development Agency (NWDA) Employment Services Unit found that a strong collaborative relationship with the Immigration Department and its boards was crucial to ensuring that Caymanians have a fair and equal opportunity in the recruitment process, and that the immigration department and its boards rely heavily upon the ESU to provide the necessary information to make informed decisions regarding the granting of work permits.

“In response, my Ministry with the support of the Computer Services Department set out to expand the NWDA database to include an Immigration Interface which will ensure that that immigration department and its boards have the information required in a timely manner to make informed decisions,” she said. “The delivery of such a system was a major campaign promise and is absolutely essential to enhance the collaboration, the efficiency and the effectiveness in the way these two agencies – the NWDA and the immigration department – interact with one another.”

On 25 February the ministry launched the NWDA-immigration database interface, which, the minister said, “is designed to facilitate significant positive change in the way Immigration and NWDA work with each other”.

She said the database is facilitating transparency in the work permit process; providing an efficient and effective way for employers to communicate efforts to hire a suitably qualified Caymanians; and providing an effective and efficient way for the NWDA to provide information to the immigration department and its boards that will allow for informed decisions to be made by them when processing work permit applications.

Under the new process, after an employer registers a job with the NWDA, the agency system runs a query to identify job seeking clients who broadly meet the requirements of the post. Then an NWDA employment services officer reviews the matches for appropriateness and with authorization from job seekers, refer candidates that are a reasonable fit for the post.

NWDA job seeking clients are able to view job posts and have the option to self-refer and the employer clients receive notification of matches for those who have self-referred or who have been referred by the NWDA. The employer, who is responsible for reviewing all candidates and determining their suitability, is provided with a section on the database where they can record the outcome of each referral.

If the employer does not select a Caymanian and chooses to apply for a work permit, the immigration department and its boards will be able to pull up the referral record and view the list of people who were referred or self-referred, the rationale for the referral and the reasons the company gave to explain why no suitable applicant was found.

This process will ensure that immigration is aware of every person that was referred or self-referred and the outcome of the recruitment process, the minister explained.

“It is important to note that there is no legislation that mandates employers to register their companies with the NWDA or post available jobs with the NWDA. While this interface facilitates transparency in the work permit process, it only accomplishes this for jobs that are posted with the NWDA where persons have applied for the post through the NWDA,” Rivers said.

“What my Ministry has done is to create a valuable and critically important service and we are encouraging employers and job seekers to utilize it in the process of recruitment and job seeking. The approach right now is to create something that is useful to job seekers and employers, and we are inviting feedback as we further develop the system to ensure that it is fit for purpose.”

A district outreach programme is also underway, in which the Training and Development Unit of the NWDA has partnered with Library Services to deliver NWDA employment services at the District public library branches on a monthly basis. “Through this opportunity Caymanians can meet with a representative of the NWDA at their district library for assistance with any activity related to job seeking including registering with the NWDA, searching for jobs on the online portal, self-referring for jobs, resume writing, and interview preparation,” Rivers said.

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Ex top cop settlement saved cash, says premier

| 11/04/2014 | 5 Comments

(CNS): The secret settlement with the former police commissioner has saved the government cash, the premier said Thursday as he justified the undisclosed pay out. Although sources have revealed an unconfirmed figure of around $600,000 government is currently obligated to keep quiet about how much tax payers’ money it has given to Stuart Kernohan as a result of the infamous Operation Tempura. Alden McLaughlin said mounting legal expenses following failed efforts at mediation had reached in excess of $1M and were set to escalate as the trial approached. With no guarantee government would win, if it didin’t not only would it face its own massive legal bill but Kernohan's as well.

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly, the premier said he could not say much about the case or the terms of the settlement.  Aware of the understandable calls for the terms of the settlement to be made public but, he said, it was not an uncommon for settlements of this type to be subject to confidentiality.

“All I can say is that, after careful deliberation, the government determined that the wisest course was to avert the mounting legal expenses associated with the case by negotiating a settlement, and that is what we have done,” McLaughlin added. “We are however confident in saying that, given the amount that was being claimed against the government,  by settling the matter in the manner we did, and the time we did, we  have managed to avoid incurring significantly more legal costs than if the matter had gone to trial.”

McLaughlin said he appreciated that a lot more needs to be said about what he described as the “sad chapter in Cayman's history” known as ‘Operation Tempura’. “I look forward to the day when a more fulsome statement can be and will be made,” he said.

The premier was part of the 2005-09 PPM Cabinet at the time of the ill-fated investigation which had agreed not to pay the operation Tempura bills because of the obvious flaws and issues relating to the costly investigation. This forced the then governor, arguably the least popular UK representative in recent history, Stuart Jack to use his reserve powers to take the money from the public purse. 

The story is a long way from over however, with critical documents still kept under wraps and side shows such as the battle between the SIO on the case Martin Bridger and Kernohan as well as the complaints that Bridger has now filed with the Metropolitan Police in London and the Foreign Office which Baines has been taxed with examining.

Kernohan had always said that the governor, the overseas security advisor and the attorney general knew about and had endorsed the covert entry into a local newspaper office. However, Bridger now alleges no one told him. He has claimed that because he didn’t know and assumed Kernohan and his colleague John Jones were going off on a “frolic of their own” this triggered the long and costly pointless probe that seemed to consist of a catalogue of bungles and incompetence by all the officials involved.

The total bill for Operation Tempura which began as an undercover Operation with two UK officers in September 2007 grew to bea massive scandalous affair involving senior police officers, high court judges and several costly court room productions is hard to estimate.

None of it solved anything and exposed no police corruption but when the UK undercover cops left the bill was already well over $10million and has been increasing ever since. In addition to that the government has spent almost $1.8million in litigation alone fighting the various suits or trying to keep embarrassing documents out of the public domain.
 

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Mac moves marina motion

| 11/04/2014 | 101 Comments

(CNS): The leader of the opposition presented a private member's motion to the Legislative Assembly Wednesday calling for government to give unqualified support for the proposed marina on Cayman Brac at Saltwater Pond, adjacent to the Alexander Hotel. Several members of the Dilbert family, who own the hotel and have applied for a coastal works licence in connection with the marina, were present at the civic centre on Cayman Brac, where the LA is sitting this week, as McKeeva Bush called the project a “beacon of light” for the island. The government voted for the motion, but only after it had been amended to say that its support for the marina was contingent on the results of an environmental impact study – a position it already held, regardless of the motion.

During the debate it was revealed by Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell that the Dilberts have told Cabinet that if they are allowed to develop the marina, they have plans to expand the Alexander Hotel, even though they have previously stated that the hotel is on average only 25% full.

The motion also called for the Brac to have its own “environment oversight committee”, made up of Brackers, which would not, apparently, include the Department of Environment. The DoE, Bush told the House, had been running an “orchestrated effort on CNS to badmouth the developer and all kinds of evil” and making everyone “believe that they are the worst type of people in the world”.

Brackers were suffering, he said, with as many as 300 people on welfare and the island dependent on $13 to $16 million (per year) in government subsidies. Soon, he said, the islanders would have to deal with the same criminal activity as Grand Cayman if they let the people there “ground you into the ground because of their environmental likes and dislikes”.

The opposition leader said the proposal had been “attacked” by the DoE, and accused the department of deliberately giving wrong information to stop the project from moving forward. He claimed the marina, which would take one to one and a half years to build, would stimulate the Brac economy in all sorts of ways.

Bush noted that government had received a letter “signed by 21 solid Cayman Brackers – educated Brackers and with good common sense”, who had made “a unanimous decision” to ask government to relax environmental considerations and approve the project in the next two weeks.

“The Brac people is going to have the say,” he said, calling for a timeframe so that “no one from the DoE can draw it out”, and said that similar projects on the Brac should have similar treatment.

Nevertheless, the government stood firm that the project required an environmental impact study, and Premier Alden McLaughlin pointed out that Cabinet already approved the project in principle several weeks ago, contingent on the result of the EIA.

The deputy premier, who is the first elected member for the Sister Islands, shared a conversation he had had with Cleveland Dilbert, the patriarch of the family. “One of the things I said was that we had to do an EIA because my legacy was not going to be that I destroyed the West End of Cayman Brac,” said Kirkconnell. Cleveland, he recalled, had said that he did not want it to be his legacy either, “so I am very confident that he meant that he wanted to ensure that it is done in the right way,” he said.

He said they were all saying the same thing – making sure that the project was done right – and he maintained that he wanted this project to go forward.

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London office top job now up for grabs

| 11/04/2014 | 11 Comments

(CNS): Following the departure of Lord Blencathra and his consultancy firm from the London office, as a result of changes in the House of Lords rules and regulations, the premier has said that the job is now being advertised. Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday Alden McLaughlin told his parliamentary colleagues that government “will diligently strive to hire the best person for the job” and to get the best level of service from the London Office. He said the UK office served an ever increasingly critical role supporting Cayman’s relationship with the United Kingdom, other Overseas Territories and key international organizations.

Although it had become increasingly apparent that the Conservative peer originally hired by McKeeva Bush in 2011 could no longer represent Cayman in the wake of concerns raised by the Lords Commissioner for Standards Paul Kernaghan and the recent changes to regulations, McLaughlin said that Blencathra maintains his efforts on behalf of the Cayman Islands Government did not breach the code of conduct.

The premier said that Blencathra had played an important role as  a consultant to the Cayman Islands Government providing advice and guidance on a vast range of UK and EU matters and the government would need to fillt he void he has now left.

“I it is critical that government continues to have the benefit of proper advice on these matters in order to protect and promote the interests of the Cayman Islands.,” he said. “We are considering our options. The advice and guidance Lord Blencathra has given to Government over the years has been invaluable.”

 

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TV money guru to do one night show in Cayman

| 11/04/2014 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Two-time Emmy Award-winning television host, New York Times bestselling author, magazine and online columnist Suze Orman is coming to the Cayman Islands to give a one-off talkat the Westin next month. Orman is also the contributing editor to “O” The Oprah Magazine and is in her 12th year of her award winning show, which airs every Saturday night on CNBC. Last year Forbes magazine awarded Orman a spot in the top 10 on a list of the most influential celebrities of 2013 and the Television Academy Foundation’s Archive of American Television honoured her broadcast career accomplishments with her inclusion in its historic Emmy TV Legends interview collection.

Tickets for the event on 24 May at The Westin Grand Cayman are CI$40 and set to go on sale on Monday. The event is being organized by Colonial Pension Services Limited and Marie Jo Caesar, the chief operating officer, said the visit was creating a buzz around the Cayman Islands.

“Ms Orman’s talk will help show people that they can take control of their personal finances using simple truths about making priorities for their financial future,” she said. “I am a huge fan of Ms Orman and think that this event is going to be one of the must go-to events of the year.
The $5,000 retirement account door prize will also be a much needed addition to the lucky winner’s pension plan. It is impossible to underestimate the importance of investing in your future,” Ceasar added.

Tickets are available from BritCay Insurance Agencies, BritCay House, 236 Eastern Avenue, George Town. Call 914 9834 or email cgi.suzeorman@colonial.bm. British Caymanian Insurance Agencies Ltd. is the agent for Colonial Pension Services Ltd., a registered pension provider in the Cayman Islands.

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