Archive for November 13th, 2014

Home affairs bags another DG gong

| 13/11/2014 | 4 Comments

(CNS): A prison officer is the latest civil servant to acquire the accolade of the civil service employee of the month. Karen Dixon, is another member of staff from the home affairs ministry which has already bagged several of the government monthly awards. Dixon was said to have “enthusiastically embraced additional duties at the Prison Service as Acting Custodial Manager for Residential Services. But it was for her attributes as an exceptional officer and a “great leader” that she was named best employee for September. Officials said that Dixon isteadfastly respects the law but has been a strong advocate for prisoners, going above the call of duty to help them.

Dixon recently introduced a new service improvement programme titled Officer Advisor Scheme. It includes building awareness, engaging officers and prisoners, implementing procedures, providing support as well as evaluating and reporting on the progress. She is also implementing the new Self Harm Prison Service Instruction, which aims to protect inmates by preventing self-harm and suicide through early detection of warning signs and fast action by officers.

Officials said Dixon goes out of her way to encourage prisoners and staff to put in their best effort and raise their performance to the highest level. In turn, she is quick to support improvements, welcome ideas and suggestions and recognise model behaviour, good work and consistent efforts.

Handing over the award, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, hailed her ability to give everyone an opportunity to be heard and be willing to listen, calm situations and demonstrate genuine compassion. “Also highly resourceful, I am told you help the prison service stretch the proverbial dollar and I commend you for your dedicated service,” he said.

Dixon attributed her accomplishments to the team spirit within the prison.

“This was a very pleasant surprise and I thank all who thought me deserving of this prestigious award,” she said.

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Women are spies, says Ebanks

| 13/11/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Two women who claim Leonard Antonio Ebanks confessed to them that he was involved in the murder of Frédéric Bise are police spies, Ebanks told police when he was interviewed by officers after his arrest. The West Bay man, who is the second person to be tried in the murder of the Swiss Banker in February 2008, has denied confessing to the women and told police he believed the women were police spies who were being paid to say things about him. The crown’s lead counsel in the case said that during police interviews Ebanks said the information the women had about the murder had not come from him but from “corrupt police” who had told the women what to say.

As Simon Russell Flint QC continued his opening address in Grand Court this week setting out the prosecution’s case against Ebanks for what was described as a savage and brutal killing, he said that the defendant had made confessions to two different women two years apart.  The details those women said he gave them, when they reported the confessions to the police, were things that only the killers could have known.

Despite this when confronted with the evidence of a former girlfriend and that of a helper at a house frequented by Ebanks in Birch Tree Hill, he said the women were lying and it was the “corrupt police” who had told them about the details of the murder.

Ebanks claimed that the first woman who alleged he had confessed, shortly after the crime, was “a woman scorned” because he had ended their relationship. He also said she was working as a spy as she was a secret special constable which is why she knew what she did. He said that the second witness was also a spy and was being paid by police to lie and say that he had confessed.

Russell Flint said that Ebanks’ former girlfriend was not working for the police and had told the police not only the details of the murder which he is alleged to have committed, with his cousin Chad Anglin, but that she had also seen property in Ebanks’ possession shortly after the crime that the crown says belonged to Bise.

She also said that on the morning of the murder he had come home to where the couple lived at the time, early in the morning before she left for work, drunk and smelling of smoke. The crown claim that Ebanks had taken the bloody clothes that he and Anglin were wearing, when they allegedly beat Bise to death by dropping a cinder block repeatedly on his head, and burned them in Anglin’s grandmother’s yard.

Ebank’s ex-girlfriend is unrelated to and does not know the second witness who was at this time in Jamaica.

However, two years later, when Ebanks had become friendly with the helper he had also allegedly confessed to her about the killing. Her evidence was uncovered by police during a completely separate investigation and it was as a result of her help in that investigation that she was under witness protection and as such was receiving some money from the police. 

As he presented the crown’s case against the defendant, Russel Flynn said both women had asked Ebanks after his confessions why he had committed the murder and both stated to police that he had described Bise who was gay was a “faggot” and said that he owed Ebanks and Anglin $1000. He had also said that Anglin was also gay and that before the killing Anglin and Bise had been at the banker’s home together. They then went to the dykes at Barkers which, Ebanks told the women, was when he met Anglin and Bise and that was where they had killed “the white man”. After committing the savage murder the two man had placed him in the boot of his own car which they then drove around West Bay. Eventually they returned to Bise’s house and parked the car and set it on fire. Shortly after the fire service were called and the body was discovered.

Although police had arrested both Chad Anglin and Leonard Ebanks in the immediate wake of the crime the case eventually stalled when the director of public prosecutions told the police they did not have enough evidence to prosecute.

However, following the creation of the cold case unit in the RCIPS in 2012 detectives reviewed the case and re interviewed witnesses. As a result a new file was passed to the DPP last year and both Anglin and Ebanks were charged.  Anglin was tried and convicted of the murder in April this year.

Ebanks’ trial, which is presided over by Justice Charles Quin, continues next week with the first of the crown’s witnesses in Grand Court One.
 

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Public interest to guide cuts

| 13/11/2014 | 36 Comments

(CNS):The premier has reassured civil servants that government won’t be implementing the EY report on the rationalisation of the civil service wholesale. Speaking during the professional development conference for public sector workers organised by the Cayman Islands Society of Professional Accountants, Alden McLaughlin said public expenditure couldn’t continue to grow as it has done in the past decade which was why it had commissioned the report. But he said the final decisions on the report will be made by Cabinet and Caucus and none will be made unless the PPM administration believes it is in the public interest and not just to advance private sector interests.

“Beforewe take any decisions about privatisation, amalgamation or restructuring, this administration will have to be convinced that any action Cabinet takes will be in the best interest of all the Caymanian people,” McLaughlin told an audience of civil servants at the internal government seminar. “Unfortunately there are some interests that believe the objective of Government should be to improve their position in the private sector. That isn’t the case at all,” the premier added.

He said there were several recommendations in the report that will require additional research or information before decisions can be made. McLaughlin stated that while the government agreed with some of the recommendations in the report there were others that will be modified, some which are already under way and some which they will not implement. However, the premier did not go into any details about what Cabinet or Caucus has agreed is in the wider public interest.

Although government has not yet revealed very many details of what it will be taking from the EY report the premier pointed out that the ProjectFuture Steering Committee, chaired by the Deputy Governor was in place and it would ensure that Cabinet’s recommendations, would be “swiftly implemented.”

McLaughlin said that Franz Manderson would ensure the committee’s approach will be consistent and in-line with the highest standards in governance and project management. “This includes development of a proper business case for all projects undertaken in carrying out the recommendations,” he reassured the audience.

Regardless of what cuts or sell offs there will eventually be in government McLaughlin said government had to provide services more efficiently and effectively. The premier also noted that he was well aware civil servants were increasingly expected to deliver more and more services with less and less resources.
The premier spoke about the need to “find ways to work harder and smarter with less,” as he said this would drive down the cost of doing business and that in turn would free revenue to reward the men and women in the public sector who step up to the plate as top performers.
 

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Mangrove project needs cash to carry on critical work

| 13/11/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A mangrove learning programme which began in the Cayman Islands, which is now being taught in schools all over the world is in need of funding to help keep it going. Given the increasing importance of these incredible trees in the face of environmental threats across the tropics the programme’s value cannot be underestimated. It is used in 11 countries world-wide with plans for three more for next year — Kenya, Suriname and India. Marvellous Mangroves gives students from tropical lands a basic understanding of scientific methodology and ecology, as well as methods as a precursor to a science-based university education.

“Every $100 will enable one teacher to attend the Marvellous Mangroves three-day teachers’ workshop and provide them with a copy ofthe 300-page Marvellous Mangroves – adapted and translated for their own country,” said Cayman’s Martin Keeley the man behind the creation of the incredible programme.

The project began back in 2000 and the original video made by and featuring Keeley. It provides a dynamic reference resource for teachers and students to learn about how mangroves function and explore mangrove forests. The 300-page “Marvellous Mangroves in the Cayman islands” was developed for the Caribbean region starting in 1998 and linked to the Cayman curriculum.

It has since been adapted for the English-speaking Colombian Caribbean islands of San Andres and Providence; translated into Spanish and adapted for use in Colombia, Honduras and Guatemala; translated and adapted for use into Sinhala and integrated into the Sri Lanka national science curriculum. It has also been translated and adapted for schools in Brazil, China and Bangladesh, as well as English versions for Australia and Belize where it is part of the schools’ national curriculum.

Back in 2002, Tanny Onsalo was just nine years old when she first learned about mangroves and how important they really are to the world’s shoreline ecosystems. "It changed the way I think about mangroves as an incredibly important ecosystem. It's a fabulous program and I'm so happy to still be a part of the world of Marvellous Mangroves, and I tell people about them all the time," she said.

Onsalo’s full story is told on the website along with video footage and other information about the programme here http://mangroveactionproject.org/mangrove_curriculum/
Anyone wishing to help can make a donation here:

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Tourists arrested by customs for drugs and bullets

| 13/11/2014 | 4 Comments

(CNS): The Customs Department made two arrests earlier this month of visitors to the islands and have warned of more as officers urge people to be honest about their disclosures and not to bring illegal goods when travelling to Cayman. Last Thursday officers arrested a visitor for possession of drugs and he remains on bail while a woman who was arrested on 3 November has been charged and fined $1000 after a single bullet was found in her luggage. Collector of Customs, Samantha Bennett, said: “Despite the evolving range of challenges at our borders and other Customs controlled areas, partnerships are consistently proving essential in addressing the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

She said that customs was and would continue working with the Department of Tourism on an education campaign outlining details of the restricted and prohibited items in Cayman for tourists.

“Over the past couple of months we have seen a constant increase in the detection of such items being brought in by casual visitors,” she added.

Deputy Collector (Enforcement), Marlon Bodden, explained that the clamp down was as a result of the hard work of officers and more was coming. “Effective enforcement cannot be achieved without motivated officers. Our officers are already doing a great job and stronger enforcement is looming,” he said, adding that with the festive season approaching Customs would like to support legitimate trade and travel.

“We are therefore pleading with the public to make the necessary disclosures to authorities and not to take illegal items or substances on travel to the Cayman Islands”.

Anyone with information relating to the transport of restricted and prohibited items across the Cayman Islands borders is asked to contact HM Customs’ confidential tip-line on 1-800-534-8477, to email tell.us@customs.gov.ky, or to telephone Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS).
 

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Armed robbers appeal verdict

| 13/11/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Two men from a gang of convicted robbers described by law enforcement authorities as some of Cayman’s most dangerous criminals have begun an appeal against their convictions for the 2012 West Star heist in George Town.  David Tamasa and Andre Burton began arguing this week that their convictions and 11 year prison terms are unsafe as they were found guilty on completely flawed evidence supplied by the crown’s now infamous supergrass, Marlon Dillon. The men were convicted of stealing over $8000 from the television centre’s offices at gun point. They deny any involvement however and claim Dillon lied to save his own skin naming them, they claim, because as former friends of Dillon’s they were a safer bet than naming the real culprits.

This appeal against the WestStar convictions, handed down by visiting judge Justice Alastair Malcolm in October last year, will be followed next week by appeals against the jury verdict in the Cayman National robbery in May last year. The crown believes this robbery was committed by the same gang involved in the West Star which included Dillon, who was also the main witness.

James Curtis QC, who is representing Tamasa in his appeal against conviction in both daylight armed heists is arguing that Dillon’s evidence is at odds with other evidence, is inconsistent and highly contradictory. He argued that even the crown was forced to admit that during his police interview Dillon was threatened, coerced and cajoled by the police to confess and give up the details of his co-conspirators in the robberies. The female officer who conducted the hours of interviews with Dillon was described as using methods not used since the 1970s and of breaking the rules when it comes to interviewing suspects.

Accusing Dillon of randomly naming his client, Tamasa, among many others, rather than risk the wrath of the real robbers, the lawyer said this was supported by allegations Dillon made about other people. He pointed to names given to the police by Dillon as being involved but who had cast iron alibis and couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the heist. He said his client wasn’t involved either and the conviction was not sound.

The arguments are expected to continue this week ahead of the CNB appeal when the jury verdicts and sentences against Tamasa and Burton along with Rennie Cole, George Mignott, and Ryan Edwards will also be challenged.

Ryan Edwards was also convicted of aiding and abetting in the WestStar robbery but his appeal was rejected before it got off the ground this week as a result of being filed out of time. However, the appeal court panel pointed out that should his con-conspirators Tomasa and Burton be successful in their appeals, Edwards would have new ground =s on which to file giving him another shot.

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CIG brags of clean audits

| 13/11/2014 | 48 Comments

(CNS): Government bean counters in one ministry and in the portfolio of the civil service have been given a clean bill of health for their 2013/14 accounts. All government accounts were submitted within their legal time frame and for the first time in a decade the tourism ministry also managed to get a qualified opinion rather than a disclaimer or an adverse opinion. Although this is exactly what government should be doing across all 41 reporting entities, every year, the fact that the public accounts had reached such a dire situation the premier said it was important to tell the country, Wednesday, that this government meant business when it came to straightening out the problem.

Although the auditor general’s office has only been able to complete just over half of the government’s accounts that came in from over 40 different entities for this financial year, government bragged that they were all in before the statutory deadline and the quality of all of them was vastly improved.

This led the deputy governor, Franz Manderson to optimistically boast that he believed all of the accounts, once audited by Alastair Swarbrick’s team, would, this year finally, receive at least a qualified if not unqualified opinion. The finance minister however was more realistic and told CNS that it would probably not be until the 2014/15 financial year that government could get a complete clean bill of accounting health.

Admitting there was still a lot of work to do Premier Alden McLaughlin, explained why he had called a press briefing to announce the improvement in the accounts situation. "A lack of proper accounts has haunted three administrations and we are starting to get it right."

He said an email sent to the civil service management from the auditor general commended the various entities for the results so far. the premier stated that it was the first time since the introduction of the public finance management law in 2004 the ministry of community affairs got an unqualified opinion and the ministry of tourism a qualified one and this alone was a significant step forward. This means that in both cases when the public finally get to see the reports, when they are tabled later this month, they can trust the information in them as an accurate report of what those ministries did with public cash last year.

“Over the course of the past seven or so years there has been much justified criticism about the failure of the Cayman Islands Government to comply with the Public Management and Finance Law with respect to its accounts,” McLaughlin said as he opened the televised conference to boast of the forward step.

“Finally there is some good news from the Auditor General about the progress that this Administration is making on getting our accounting system up to scratch,” the premeir added.
Only weeks after Swarbrick and his team published a damning review of where government is on its accounts backlog McLaughlin said the government had now received “favourable and complimentary words” from the auditor.

Although government has gone effectively from a complete failing grade when it comes to reporting its public finances and accounting for how it spends tax payer’s money to a D+, the premier stated that the previous appalling situation made this progress all the more significant.

“We still have a ways to go, but in the words of the Auditor General, this is the best result that has been achieved since the introduction of the PMFL,” the premier said. “While we appreciate that government still has a lot to do when it comes to submitting financials in a timely manner and getting them right the first time, I honestly believe this Administration is setting the right tone,” he added.

Thanking civil servants and commending them for their work the government leader said they had “spent many hours striving to get our financial statements and reporting up to par,” as he described a new attitude of cooperation and responsiveness across government as it works with the auditor general’s team.

“This is not by chance, but by design. This government has worked tirelessly since being returned to office to restore stability to the country and the economy,” the premier stated. “A large part of that work has been overseen and ushered through by Finance Minister Hon. Marco Archer. I again commend him and his very capable team for the infectious zeal they bring to their government duties.”

Despite the minor move forward and the remaining massiveproblems surrounding accountability to the public for billions of dollars past spent and unaccounted for, the premier said his administration would “continue to move forward and strive for improvement.”

McLaughlin believed it was worth celebrating what he saw as significant improvements that have been made in the accountability for the use of public resources.

CNS contacts the auditor general’s office about the claimed improvements and the current situation with the accounts for 2013/14 and we are awaiting a response.

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Jamaican judge recruited to Cayman bench

| 13/11/2014 | 49 Comments

(CNS): Justice Ingrid Mangatal has been appointed as a full-time Grand Court Judge here in Cayman after what officials said was an open recruitment process for the bench. As Cayman’s court dockets get busier and busier the pressing need for more court space and judges is growing. Justice Mangatal joins a team of four alongside the chief justice that are handing family, civil and the ever growing criminal lists. The recruitment process was carried out in July and August by the judicial and legal services commission who advertised the post locally and overseas. Following a short-listing process, an interview panel interviewed five people and recommended Justice Mangatal who will start in January.

No stranger to Cayman she has acted as a visiting judge in the Cayman Islands Grand Court and recently acted as an appellate judge in Jamaica’s Court of Appeal.

“I am confident that Justice Mangatal’s breadth of knowledge, skills and experience in both civil and criminal matters will prove to be invaluable to the Cayman Islands Judiciary and the people as a whole” said Governor Helen Kilpatrick, who confirmed her appointment. “I look forward to formally welcoming her back to the Cayman Islands, this time in her full-time position, in the New Year.”

A graduate of the University of the West Indies and of the Norman Manley Law School, Kingston, Jamaica Magnatal was called to the bar in 1987.

She started practice in Kingston as an associate in the litigation department of the law firm Perkins Tomlinson Grant Stewart & Co. She then became an associate and subsequently partner in the law firm Dunn Cox Orrett & Ashenheim, now Dunn Cox. She specialized in commercial and civil litigation. She entered public service in 2000 when she was appointed as Resident Magistrate and then Senior Assistant Attorney General, and Director of Litigation, in the Attorney General’s Department where she was in charge of civil litigation brought against the Government of Jamaica.

Whilst at the Attorney General’s Department, Mangatal handled a wide range of public law cases, including judicial review and constitutional matters, officials stated in a release about her appointment.

Justice Mangatal has also served on the Supreme Court bench in Jamaica from 2003 to now and has presided over both criminal and civil courts. Between 2011 and 2013 she served as a judge in Jamaica’s Commercial Court, handling complex commercial and financial matters.
 

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Minimum wage committee to start random survey

| 13/11/2014 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Officials from the Minimum Wage Advisory Committee (MWAC) are urging the public to go on-line or respond to ESO officials who will be randomly selecting businesses and households to complete a minimum wage survey before the 1 December deadline. Although the survey has been online since October it appears that not enough people have responded to enable officials to get sufficient data. In order to get a reputable sample size statisticians and trained survey workers from the Economics and Statistics Office (ESO) will conduct a survey beginning  next week. It will cover 285 businesses in construction, wholesale and retail, restaurants and mobile food services, as well as 1,400 households.

The public are asked to cooperate with the representatives from ESO and provide the necessary information, which will be collected under the Statistics Law (2011 Revision), officials said. The data collected will be used to help formulate the evidence-based recommendations that the Minimum Wage Advisory Committee will provide in its report which is due to Cabinet in February 2015.

The first phase of the public consultation on the introduction of a minimum wage below which no person should be required to work was launched in October. To begin with the public was asked to complete specifically designed surveys on line and volunteers have also taken part in focus groups. During phase two which starts in the New Year the public will be invited to a series of open public meetings as well.

In the meantime, it is hoped the random survey will boost the responses. Officials said each interviewer will work under an oath of secrecy, and all information collected will be kept strictly confidential. All interviewers carry photo identification which should be easily visible, and respondents are advised to request identification from any interviewer before sharing information. If individuals or businesses have already completed these surveys on-line, then they should not complete them again if contacted by representatives from ESO.

The MWAC offered thanks to the public for taking part as the introduction of a minimum wage is they said of “national importance and will affect everyone living in the Cayman Islands.”

The MWAC can be contacted by email at minimumwage@gov.ky or by telephone at 244-3151. The online survey can be found at www.education.gov.ky/minimumwage.

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