Archive for September 8th, 2014

High tides, early warning for future sea level rise

| 08/09/2014 | 25 Comments

(CNS): Unusually high tides causing flooding on Grand Cayman are not believed to be as a result of rising seas, just yet, but experts pointed out that they show just how bad flooding could get in the Cayman Islands if the predicted increases in sea levels over the next few decades are accurate. The Departmentof the Environment said that the recent flooding in various areas of Grand Cayman and in particular in Barkers (left), where the road was virtually impassable on Monday, was down to a number of seasonal and astronomical influences but was caused by a less than four inch rise in tides.

While the exact reason for the surge in tides is not completely understood, experts believe it is a combination of the moon’s position in the sky and other astronomical forces which act on tides. The gradually rising sea levels are not thought to have played a major part in the higher than normal tides which has impacted properties along the northern coasts of Grand Cayman.

The flooding after such a relatively small and temporary increase in tide levels gives us an idea of what we can expect in the next few decades if sea level rises begin to increase more significantly, as most scientists now believe.

“It brings home the potential devastating impacts of sea level rise as estimates suggest these tides are only about 10cms above previous high tides we have experienced,” a spokesperson for the DoE said.

Although there is still a question mark over the actual rate of escalation of sea-level increase, new research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change revealed last month found that the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet is set to make things far worse than imagined.

In addition, to the huge icebergs plunging into the oceans from the south pole, the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet in the north as well as other glacial melt around the world, the expansion of warming water, and groundwater pumping, which shifts water from aquifers to the seas are all adding to the problem. When the latest projections re Antarctica are combined with other figures, the upper limit for overall sea level rise by the end of this century will be nearly four feet.

The hastening pace of sea level rise threatens to reshape the lives of more than a billion coastal dwellers long before the end of the century, including the people of the Cayman Islands. Just a few inches, which could happen within the next few decades, would be sufficient to cause considerable infrastructure damage in Cayman and other low lying Islands that will require on-going and costly defences, which are unlikely to keep pace with the threat.

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Man charged with attempted murder in BT case

| 08/09/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 42 year old man who attacked his partner with a machete in a violent domestic dispute last month in Bodden Town has been charged with attempted murder. The man who had also tried to take his own life following the incident which happened on 12 August appeared in court Monday morning and was remanded in custody. His 53 year old female victim remains in a critical condition in hospital overseas where she was airlifted shortly after the attack. The suspect in the case was also in hospital for several weeks after his suicide attempt had been taken into police custody on 1 September and was charged on Saturday.

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Water authority battles burst main on key highway

| 08/09/2014 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Although customers were not expected to be directly impacted by a burst water main on Monday, the Water Authority said traffic was being impacted as crews worked to find and mend the leak. The affected pipe is located at the intersection of Crewe Road and the Linford Pierson Highway and drivers were asked to take note of the emergency work and the closed lanes.  The two north bound lanes of Crewe Road from the Hurleys roundabout to Kings Sports Centre have been closed to accommodate the work. Traffic from the east was being diverted to Old Crew Rd via South Sound Road.

The Water authority said warning signs will be posted in the general vicinity and everyone on the road in the area was being asked to drive with caution.
“The Water Authority apologizes for any inconvenience caused and asks for the patience and understanding of the motoring public,” a spokesperson from the authority stated.

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Police link motor-bike crash victim to robbery

| 08/09/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 28 year old man involved in a motorcycle collision in West Bay on Friday evening who remains in a critical condition is now also under investigation in connection with an armed robbery at a liquor store. The local man who was very badly injured came off his motorbike along Jefferson Road some 40 minutes after Joe-Ena’s liquor shop, in West Church Street, was held up at gun point.  Police said they don’t yet know how the bike crash occurred but believe the rider may have been the armed, masked man who entered the store demanding cash and escaped with the contents of the register.

The man is currently at the George Town hospital where he is understood to be suffering from serious head injuries.

Police investigating the link and the circumstances of the crash are asking anyone with information on smash or the robbery to contact the West Bay Police Station at 949-3999, the RCIPS’ tip-line on 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (tips)

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Bike crash victim dies

| 08/09/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 28-year-old man involved in a motorcycle collision in West Bay on Friday evening has died just after police announced that they believed he was connected with an armed robbery at a liquor store in the district. The local man, who has not yet been named by police, was said to have lost his fight for life around lunchtime on Monday. The man came off the motorbike on Jefferson Road at around 10:30pm on Friday night, some 40 minutes after the stick-up at Joe-Ena’s liquor store in West Church Street but it is not known how the crash occurred. Police however did state that he may have been the armed, masked man who entered the store demanding cash at around 9:50pm.

Police investigating the link and the circumstances of the crash that killed the man are asking anyone with information on the crash or the robbery to contact the West Bay Police Station at 949-3999, the RCIPS’ tip-line on 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (tips)


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Cops open murder enquiry

| 08/09/2014 | 88 Comments

(CNS) Updated: Police have confirmed that the 24-year-old man shot and killed Sunday night was Solomon David Webster. Although few details of the murder have been released, it is understood that Webster was the victim of gang violence and was gunned down somewhere between his home in Daisy Lane, in the Logwoods area of West Bay, and the district clinic where he was found, a stone’s throw from the school. The incident was reported Sunday evening at around 8:30 and he was taken to hospital by the emergency services, where he died earlier this morning. Police said they are pursuing a specific line of enquiry and an incident room has been opened. Anyone who has information on the first local murder of 2014 is asked to call 649-3057.

The head of the local police station recently confirmed a heightening of gang tensions in the district and an increase in patrols by the USG. On Monday morning police stated that the circumstances of the killing were still being investigated, but said the RCIPS was following a direct line of enquiry and is requesting that anyone who was in the area at the time of the shooting, or has any information. to contact West Bay Police Station.

People who think they have information which will help the police can call any police station, the RCIPS tip-line at 949-7777, Crime Stoppers at 800-8477 (TIPS) or 649 3057 to reach the incident room.

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Mac case behind closed doors

| 08/09/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Cayman’s former leader, McKeeva Bush, answered his bail Monday when he appeared in the dock at the Grand Court in anticipation of his trial on corruption charges. Despite the arrival of the jury pool, the judge released them shortly after the session began explaining that there were several issues to be resolved between the crown and Bush’s legal teams before a panel could be selected. Following the jury dismissal Bush was formally arraigned and pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of misconduct in public office and breach of trust relating to the use of his government credit card between July 2009 and March 2010, before the case went behind closed doors.

Bush is accused of using his government issued credit card for personal benefit over the period in question at hotels and casinos in Florida, Las Vegas and the Bahamas. The crown claims that Bush spent or withdrew some $50,000 for personal use over eight months when he was traveling overseas and caused government to incur fees of around $500.

The opposition leader and former premier denied all eleven counts read out in the court before the proceedings were closed and the judge placed a formal gag order on reporting of the ongoing discussions until the case opens before a jury.

The trial, which is now expected to begin in earnest towards the end of the week, will open against the backdrop of questions in government regarding the abuse and misuse of credit cards held by civil servants and government ministers, past and present. Bush has stated categorically over the last few months that he has done nothing wrong and used his card for legitimate purposes as the leader of the country at the time.

Bush is represented by leading British QC, Geoffrey Cox, who is also a serving member of the UK parliament as well as a ‘big wig’ on the international legal stage. Meanwhile, the crown has also gone to the UK for its lead prosecutor. Duncan Penny was made a QC just this year but already has a reputation as an expert in corruption. The case is being presided over by visiting UK judge Justice Michael Mettyear.

Bush (58) is the  longest-serving member of the Legislative Assembly, representing the district of West Bay for around 30 years. He was arrested in relation to these allegations in December 2012 and after refusing to resign he was ousted from the office of premier when former members of his then UDP Cabinet sided with the the opposition leader at the time in a no confidence motion.

Despite the circumstances, Bush pressed on with his political career and crossed the floor to the opposition benches with three members of his former UDP Team, Mike Adam, Captain Eugene Ebanks and Elio Solomon. He was charged several months later in March 2013 just ahead of Nomination Day for the 2013 General Election. The now opposition leader has maintained that the investigations and charges against him were all designed to ensure he lost that election by the former governor, Duncan Taylor.

While Bush easily held on to his own seat, Tara Rivers, now the education minister, who was running on the C4C ticket, took the second seat in the district. Although the UDP leader still managed to carry Ebanks and new party member Bernie Bush, he was unable to secure any further seats in any other district for the party. While the UDP was broken by the allegations and subsequent fallout, only Juliana O’Connor-Connolly survived from the former UDP government, as Bush’s former district colleagues Rolston Anglin and Cline Glidden were unable to hold on to their West Bay seats when they ran as candidates under the new People’s National Alliance banner.  In Bodden Town, Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour also lost their seats after just one term in office.

Since the election the UDP announced a name change to the Cayman Democratic Party but there has been little development of the new party structure as Bush’s attention as opposition and party leader appears to have been largely diverted by the legal case. 

See more on the legal teams on CNS later.

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Jail sentence for Cayman-based money launderer

| 08/09/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): An investment advisor based in the Cayman Islands was sentenced by a federal court in Virginia Friday to 30 months in prison for his part in a $2 million money-laundering conspiracy. US citizen Joshua VanDyk (34) pleaded guilty on June 12, having been arrested in March this year. Also arrested were Eric St-Cyr (50), a Canadian working with VanDyk in Cayman, and Patrick Poulin (41), a Canadian attorney working in Turks and Caicos. They have both pleaded guilty and are due for sentencing on 3 October. The three men assisted undercover US agents posing as clients in laundering purported criminal proceeds through an offshore structure designed to conceal the true identity of the proceeds’ owners. Read more on CNS Business

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Late fee C/C bill unknown

| 08/09/2014 | 42 Comments

(CNS): Government might have wasted tens of thousands of dollars on credit card late fees as an ongoing FOI request by CNS has revealed that late fees appear to be common on cards issued to public servants and ministers. But with no central control over the management of government credit cards, the late fees bill to the public purse over the last decade could easily exceed $100,000. Based on the details released so far in what has been a very mixed response to a blanket FOI request by CNS for the statements, government entities seem to have accepted late fees as the norm and there has been no one monitoring the growing bill.

CNS has asked for the credit card statements of every government issued credit card from 2007 to date but so far only a handful of entities have responded in full. However, from the Information Commissioner’s Office (the first agency to make a complete and full disclosure) to the planning ministry, most of the entities that have released statements record late fees and large interest payments.

Government officials have been unable to state who is ultimately responsible for the accumulation of a potentially large late payment bill to the government coffers as each entity is responsible for their own bills. The issue has been acknowledged by government officials, however, since the first revelations regarding the misuse of credit cards across government was revealed in a selection of statements leaked to the press. 

According to information from the deputy governor’s office, it is the Treasury which is responsible for obtaining credit cards from government’s bankersand ensuring that all card holders are provided with the government’s credit card policy, but late payments are down to each individual chief officer or department boss. 

Officials told CNS that late fees occur for a variety of reasons, including the late submission of expense claims, original receipts and other supporting documentation. Government also said that the banks issued credit card statements only one or two days before the payment due date and in some instances after the payment due dates, making it “extremely difficult if not impossible to meet the payment due date.”

Measure have been taken, officials told CNS, to avoid future late fees as ministries, portfolios and offices are now more vigilant about making timely payments on credit cards.

Officials said a combination of accessing credit card statements online, among other new directions, allows for better management, monitoring and settlement of credit card transactions. Monthly credit card statements from government’s bankers are now being received well before the due dates. A pre-set payment due date has also been established by the government’s bankers for all cardholders, and financial officers are now querying late fees and interest charges if the delay is caused by the government’s bankers.

As a result, officials said that the public sector should be able to adhere to the credit card policy, which requires payments to be paid on or before the due date.

Despite its purchasing powe,r government is still being charged 18% per annum on unpaid credit card balances.

“The Treasury Department approached the government’s bankers in January 2014 querying the high interest rate charged and was advised that the rate was reflective of industry standards,” officials confirmed.

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