Archive for August 7th, 2008

Chief Magistrate invited to rotary Sunrise

| 07/08/2008 | 0 Comments

Her Honour Mrs Margaret Ramsay-Hale has been appointed an Honorary member of Rotary Sunrise. She was introduced by past President Rosie Jamieson (left) and inducted by President Woody Foster (Right). She joins almost 100 other members (27 ladies) from Cayman and 21 other countries.Rotary Sunrise was chartered in 2002 and meets for breakfast at the Grand Old House on Wednesday mornings. Members are mostly young professionals having fun helping in the community. Picture by Geoff Mathews


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Governor Wishes CI Olympians Well

| 07/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): In a personal letter to Cayman Islands Olympic Committee (CIOC) President Don McLean, HE the Governor Stuart Jack recently expressed his support for Cayman’s four Olympians. “I know that you, the athletes, officials and all our supporters will be flying Cayman’s flag proudly in Beijing – and everyone in Cayman will be looking for our flags waving at the Olympic pool and in the Olympic Stadium!” the letter said.

Even as excitement was building for this week’s opening of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Jack said: “I want to wish the best of luck to everyone involved with the Cayman Islands’ participation. I am certain that the months and years of hard work will prove worthwhile for Cayman’s four Olympians and that they impress all they meet as both professional athletes, and as ambassadors for our beautiful islands.”

The Governor also made special mention of the Islands’ two Olympic youth campers, Courtney Stafford and Joseph Jackson, stating his belief that they will “both impress and be inspired, by their experiences.” In addition the Governor praised the dedication and hard work of the CIOC, and applauded the backing given by government and other sponsors.


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Public meeting on Cayman Brac tonight

| 07/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): There will be a public meeting on the ongoing independent police investigation involving senior RCIPS officers, to be held at the Veterans & Seamen Centre on the Bluff Friday afternoon at 5:00 pm. Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger will be present to explain the issues and to respond to questions.

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Greenlight Re announces results and share repurchase plan

| 07/08/2008 | 0 Comments

Greenlight Capital Re, Ltd. (NASDAQ: GLRE: 21.44, -0.67, -3.03%) has announced financial results for the second quarter of 2008 reporting net income of $33.5 million for the second quarter of 2008 compared to a net income of $21.3 million for the same period in 2007. On a fully diluted basis, net income per share was $0.92 for the second quarter of 2008, compared to $0.76 for the same period in 2007. Fully diluted book value per share was $17.29 as of June 30, 2008, a 9.4% increase over $15.81 per share as of June 30, 2007.

For the six months ended June 30, 2008, net income was $28.8 million compared to $8.2 million for the same period in 2007. On a fully diluted basis, net income per share was $0.79 for the six months ended June 30, 2008, compared to $0.33 for the same period in 2007.

"We were successful this quarter in creating value on both sides of our balance sheet." said David Einhorn, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Greenlight Re. "We continue to focus our underwriting activities on creating economic profits, and we benefited in the second quarter from positive returns in our asset portfolio during a challenging investment environment."

Greenlight Re’s financial and operating highlights for the first half of 2008 include the following:

Gross written premiums in the second quarter were $25.4 million compared to $65.4 million in the second quarter of 2007, while net earned premiums were $24.7 million compared to $25.0 million. For the first six months, gross premiums written were $96.1 million compared to $103.5 million for the first six months of 2007, while net earned premiums were $52.2 million compared to $45.9 million.

The combined ratio for the six months ended June 30, 2008 was 92.5% compared to 94.3% for the six months ended June 30, 2007.

Net investment income in the second quarter was $31.0 million, a return of 4.5% on our investment portfolio, compared to $19.9 million in the second quarter of 2007, a 6.8% return on our investment portfolio. For the first six months of 2008, net investment income was $25.3 million compared to $5.5 million in the six months ended June 30, 2007.

"Our underwriting portfolio continues to perform in line with our expectations." said Len Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer of Greenlight Re. "Our premium numbers were lower in the second quarter primarily due to clients reducing planned exposures in an increasingly competitive market. This further affirms our underwriting strategy; most of our frequency based business is written with significant risk sharing and profit sharing incentives to align interests between Greenlight Re and our clients."

On 5 August, 2008, the Board of Directors adopted a share repurchase plan authorizing the Company to repurchase up to two million Class A ordinary shares. The plan, which expires on 30 June, 2011, will enable it to repurchase Class A ordinary shares from time to time to optimize the Company’s capital structure. Class A ordinary shares may be purchased in the open market or through privately negotiated transactions. The firm will hold a live conference call to discuss its financial results today, Thursday 7 August 7, 2008 at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time. To participate, please dial in to the conference call at (877) 362-3812 (domestic) or (706) 634-9925 (international), access code 57817864. The conference call topic is Greenlight Re Earnings Conference Call.


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Dixon set gamblers free

| 07/08/2008 | 0 Comments

The details of the four charges against Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon, which include two counts of misconduct in a public office and two counts of doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice, were released by his counsel today, when Michael Alberga said that the incidents were widely known. After a brief court appearance, Dixon said he would have his day in court regarding the charges against him which relate to two incidents, one in June 2003 and another in April 2004. Both involved the Deputy Commissioner allegedly instructing other police officers to release people who had been arrested for offences relating to illegal gambling and DUI.

During the court hearing Alberga asked for Dixon to be released on his own recognisance and without bail conditions. “He has been a police officer for thirty years and is a reasonable and responsible person who is well known to the community,” Alberga said, adding that his client had consistently cooperated with the independent investigation even before he discovered he was to be charged.

Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale noted the seriousness of the charges and said that the bail conditions would remain. However, she told the court that he would be allowed to travel to the Sister Islands provided he notified the police and the court. She also said that should he wish to travel overseas, if details were again given to the court and police, he would have his passport temporarily returned. The bail conditions also included surrendering a $10,000 bond, that the Deputy Commissioner return each night to his residence and that he not interfere with the witnesses in the case. The court discussed reconvening for a Preliminary Inquiry on 23 or24 September.

According to documents released by Alberga, the charges against Dixon are concerned with two specific incidents. On 22 June 2003, he is said to haveinstructed Chief Inspector Reginald Branch of the Cayman Brac Police Station that it was the policy of the police not to prosecute for illegal gambling and to release two men, both members of Lyndon Martin’s family who had been arrested for illegal gambling, and to give them back the cash and gambling registers which had been seized. On 7 April 2004, Dixon reportedly directed Inspector Burmon Scott of George Town Police Station to release a man who was being held on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. In relation to each incident Dixon faces one charge of misconduct and one of perverting the course of justice — hence the four charges.

The man in charge of the independent investigation, Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger, said it was very serious for a Deputy Commissioner to face these kinds of accusations and that it was Attorney General Samuel Bulgin who had made the decision, based on the evidence and the severity of the accusations, that bringing charges against such a senior officer was warranted.

He also noted that, just because charges were now brought against Dixon, his work was far from finished. He said that, aside from the investigation regarding the charges against Lyndon Martin and the enquiries surrounding Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and Chief Inspector John  Jones, he also now had more information from the community, which he and his team were assessing and which could lead to further inquiries. Bridger added that he would make every effort to address all of the integrity issues raised.

He refused to make comment on whether or not further charges would be brought against Dixon and offered no comment on what he believed the motives of the Deputy Commissioner were. However he said, “In any crime there is always a motive.”

Bridger said the public debate now should focus on the need to address issues of integrity within the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) and that he was please that significant numbers of people were now coming forward. “Once we have addressed the current integrity issues by fairly following the evidentiary trails, it comes to the long term systems that need to be created to prevent future misconduct,” he said. “Once I leave there needs to be something in place to stop things from happening again, such as preventative strategies that will reduce the opportunity for inappropriate behaviour.”

He also said he was encouraged by the debate about introducing an independent police complaints commission of some kind, whereby people could be confident that the police would not be investigating themselves.

Anyone who has information related to any of the enquiries can call Senior Investigating Officer, Martin Bridger on 927 2981.

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Submissions don’t add up

| 07/08/2008 | 0 Comments

The Public Service Pensions Board and Cayman Airways, among others, remain severely behind with their financial reporting, regardless of their protestation, the Auditor General said. Although many government companies and ministries have submitted some financial details to Dan Duguay’s office, their submissions remain woefully inadequate, he said. Speaking in response to denials over financial delinquency voiced by various departments, Duguay explained that submitting a few bits of financial information to his office did not mean those entities were compliant with the Public Management and Finance Law or that things added up.

Faith Ebanks, Chief Financial Officer and Director of Finance and Investments at the Public Service Pensions Board, flatly rejected the AG’s report and told Cayman Net News (4 August) the company had submitted statements on time every year. However, the Auditor General noted by way of illustration that while the Pensions Board had submitted some financial details for its 05/06 accounts on 15 September, 2006, Duguay had written to them immediately to say that there was insufficient information for him to conduct an audit. “The statements were missing numbers from the balance sheet, as well as details from the main income statement,” said Duguay. “Instead of figures they wrote TBA in the columns.”

Duguay explained that their information literally did not add up and the board did not provide any financial statement notes. “Surprisingly we didn’t consider this to be a full submission,” added Duguay. “We informed them in a very short time that too much was missing and told the FO exactly what it was that we needed, but we didn’t get another submission regarding the 2005/06 accounts, from them until July 2008, almost two years later.”

He explained that inadequate provision was a persistent problem common to numerous other companies. “It is just not the case that because a government company or a ministry has submitted something to this office that it becomes our problem,” said Duguay. He explained that the office issues a letter to all public sector entities detailing what his office needs in order to do an audit because if an insufficient amount of information is submitted, his office simply cannot do its job. In a bid to help, however, he says his staff is prepared to go into departments and search for the necessary information if need be.

“My officers literally go into offices and dig out these missing receipts, which we shouldn’t have to do,” he said, adding his concern that companies were submitting inadequate information to gain the system. “Just by putting something in they have not complied with the law and a submission doesn’t absolve them of their responsibility,” Duguay explained.  “One of our requirements is that we expect to see a complete set of numbers on a financial statement.”

He said that even though his office did not have the necessary details required to do an efficient audit for the Pensions Board, he was willing to go and do it anyway. “We are keen to work with them to get this sorted,” he said.

In the case of Cayman Airways, he said that it had not had any accounts signed off since 2003, but in April of this year the CEO Patrick Strasburger had emailed the Auditor General that he had seen his report about financial delinquency and agreed that the details regarding CAL’s accounts were accurate.  Duguay said he believed that when Angelyn Hernandez, Chair of the Cayman Airways Board,  described the CAL accounts as being in "good shape" she had been misinformed. He said that the airline was so far behind, some of its missing accounts didn’t even fall under the PMFL. But again his office was more concerned with helping CAL improve rather than pointing the finger. “CAL is a long way behind and has a lot of catching up to do,” Duguay added, “but I am glad they are working diligently to address the issue and I hope they will become more compliant.”

One of Duguay’s most problem clients has been the HSA. However,  Duguay has been at pains to stress that, regardless of the dire circumstances, the team is making a real effort to address the substantial problem.

“I respect where the HSA is going,” Duguay said. “They are coming from a terrible place where we could not rely on the accounting and financial systems. It was a real problem but things are happening to improve the system and the Authority has made a commitment to getting the 08 accounts in on time. They are trying to work with us and that’s a good trend,” he said, explaining that while there never will be reports for 04/05 and 05/06, his office does have a package that is the best he can expect for 2006/7.

Duguay is facing numerous issues because his office must deal with with such extreme and widespread delays that he needs to do more than one audit at a time. He explained that it is very difficult for auditors to do more than one year’s financial statement simultaneously because the previous year’s figures are needed before the next ones can be finalised, but with such enormous delays with some companies he has no choice but to do parallel audits.

Ultimately, Duguay saidhe cannot force any public entity to submit their full and reasonable statements but he believes that the attempts to buck the system and undermine what he considers to be a good law won’t help anyone. Speaking about suggestions that the law is too difficult to meet and should therefore be changed, he noted that some nine very diverse government companies, from CIMA to the NRA, had come very, very close to compliance, and if they could do it everyone could.  “Output auditing is very sophisticated but we can do it if people make the effort,” said Duguay.

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Cabinet rejects two Enquiry findings

| 07/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following the Commission of Enquiry held earlier this year, Governor Stuart Jack and the PPM Government have agreed on five recommendations that require legislation and/or a decision by Cabinet. However, Cabinet rejected two key recommendations, namely that directors should have fixed three-year appointments and that senior civil servants should be ineligible to stand in a general election for a period of time after resignation or retirement.

The Enquiry, ordered by the Governor, investigated allegations surrounding the removal of files from the Ministry of Tourism by the former Permanent Secretary Charles Clifford, now Tourism Minister, and related issues. The recommendations were made by Commissioner of Enquiry, Sir Richard Tucker.

According to a statement issued from the Governor’s office, the recommendation for fixed-term appointments for directors was not judged to be workable by Cabinet. “Ministers are of the view that it is important that directors of boards have the confidence of the government of the day and therefore could be changed by a new government.”

The Governor understood Ministers’ reasons for rejecting the recommendation on the term of appointments of directors of statutory authorities and government companies, he said, provided other measures were taken to ensure that directors understood and observed their responsibilities. “While under the laws governing the operations of these boards it is usually for Cabinet and Ministers to set the policy framework within which boards operate, inappropriate interference in operational matters must be avoided.”

The Governor said it was in the interests of both members of boards and of the country that they were clear about the need to avoid conflict of interest and more generally about their roles and responsibilities, including those under the new Anti-Corruption and Freedom of Information Laws. “Clear written guidance will be important where that does not currently exist. The Civil Service College will also be organising short courses or workshops on governance which I hope many directors, especially chairpersons and their deputies, will attend,” he said.

Speaking to CNS, Education Minister Alden McLaughlin said that some boards already had fixed terms for directors specified in law, the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority Board for example, for which changes were made when the appointment expired. 

“One reality that people overlook is that the operation of a government entity ought to reflect government policy,” he said, noting the distinction between interfering in decisions of individual matters,which ministers ought not to do, and influencing broad policy guidelines, which Cabinet is entitled to do.

“As far as I know, throughout the Commonwealth it is expected that when a government changes, the new government would want to ensure that boards and authorities are at least prepared to implement government policy,” he said. The PPM had kept some appointments, but had made changes where people were overly political or critical of government, he added.

The recommendation for a hiatus before senior civil servants leaving office could run for election was also rejected by Cabinet. The Governor’s release noted that this would require Constitutional amendment. Ministers would not put this forward in the forthcoming constitutional talks with the UK Government but would address the issue if raised by the UK side, he said.

“As the history of these islands has shown civil servants can have a lot to offer if elected to the Legislative Assembly. But a short hiatus of maybe only one year before seeking political office on the part of just the most senior civil servants (say, Chief Officers and similar) would give both Ministers and the general public greater confidence that such senior officials continued to be motivated by the national interest rather than personal ambition. So, if this issue is raised in the constitutional talks, I hope both sides will be prepared to look at it with an open mind,” said Governor Jack.

In response, Minister McLaughlin said the Governor has not yet addressed the question as to why this gap period is not regarded as necessary or appropriate in the UK. Noting that this has never been an issue before, he said that civil servants vehemently oppose any such provision in the law.

The Minister went on to note that while the Enquiry had been conducted into the wrongfulness of the disclosures by Clifford, there had still been no real action by the Governor or the police on those matters brought to light by the disclosures, in particular those relating to the Turtle Farm and the Affordable Housing Programme.

The recommendations accepted by Cabinet were that MLAs, including Ministers, should not serve as directors of statutory authorities or government companies and civil servants only in a non-voting role; directors of statutory authorities and government companies should have clear written duties; clear guidance will be given to directors and civil servants as to the status of, and their duties in respect of, documents; the FOI Unit will issue guidance on handling of confidential records, including “personal files”; and lastly that amendment will be considered to the Public Service Management Law to make compatible with the Freedom of Information Law in respect of whistle-blowers.

In addition, the Chief Secretary, as Head of the Civil Service, in consultation with the Attorney General’s Chambers, will be acting on two further recommendations that do not require Cabinet approval. These are to review the possible removal of the declaration of secrecy from the Personnel Regulations which duplicates an existing requirement in the law, and to clarify in Personnel Regulations rules on whistle-blowing.


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AG’s report provokes real attention

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(CNS): Aside from the public’s right to know, Auditor General Dan Duguay’s aim in producing his recent report into government financial accountability was to focus attention on what he described as “a deplorable situation” within public sector accounting and to begin to address the issue. Today, both the Governor, Stuart Jack, and the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Osborne Bodden (left), came out in support.of the report. 

Aside from the public’s right to know Dan Duguay, the Auditor General’s aim in producing the report entitled The State of Financial Accountability Reporting, was to focus attention on what he described as “a deplorable situation,” within public sector accounting and to begin to address the issue.  In the wake of extensive media coverage on the details of the report, today, both the Governor and the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee came out in support of Dan Duguay’s report. 

The Governor, Stuart Jack, said audited financial statements were important with regards to good governance, and on behalf of the committee, Osborne Bodden, MLA for Bodden Town, said he and his colleagues acknowledged the long-standing problem with the lack of timely financial statements.

“The PAC also wishes to stress the importance of timely financial information and compliance with the Public Management and Finance Law,” he said. Bodden explained that the PAC will begin examining the problem in early September with a hearing to call witness testimony from a wide array of senior public officers, including Chief Secretary George McCarthy,  Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson, as well as Chief Officers and Chief Financial Officers.

“Whilst the Auditor General’s report paints a dismal picture, the PAC’s focus will be onsolutions,” he said. The PAC had advised the Auditor General to continue to provide a reasonable timeframe for clients to provide feedback to its audit findings, but if they failed to meet deadlines he should offer an opinion on the statements, Bodden added.  

The Governor noted that while there may have been reasons the delays, they could no longer be allowed to continue and said he welcomed the efforts underway to resolve this issue. He expected Chief Officers and Chief Financial Officers of all government entities to give the highest priority to quick progress towards meeting the requirements of the law and of financial accountability to the Legislative Assembly. 

Duguay said that he was pleased his report had provoked the attention needed to address this problem and that his main goal now was to work with and help as many people as possible to get their financial statements in order.

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Governor speaks out on good governance

| 07/08/2008 | 0 Comments a broad statement on the issue of good governance in the Cayman Islands, H.E. the Governor Stuart Jack drew attention to particular challenges in a small community “in which rumour is rife, in which matters get quickly personalised and suspicions of conflict of interest or bias can easily arise, and in which there is limited capacity to follow matters up quickly.”

Outlining his role on the issue, he maintained, “When it falls to me as Governor to deal with a governance-related issue I ensure that I am constantly guided by the facts and legal advice and act without fear or favour. That must be the ethos across the whole of the public sector.”

Continuing in general terms, though possibly referring to the independent investigation into police corruption, Jack said he tried to keep the public as well informed as possible. “Good governance is about not only doing the right thing but being trusted to do so. There are, however, real limits to how quickly and how much we can say when matters are subject to often very complex investigations that must be allowed to proceed properly. The time investigations can take can be frustrating, including for me. But it is better to get things right than rush them. That also ensures that people are treated fairly, whoever they are and wherever they come from.”

He said, “Where a problem does arise – and there is adequate evidence, not just unsubstantiated allegations – we need, in my view, both to address that specific problem and then to learn general lessons to avoid a reoccurrence. That is how we have been dealing with the follow up to certain reports of the Auditor General, with the ongoing issues involving the police, and with the recent Commission of Enquiry.”

Declaring his belief that there was generally good standards of governance in the Cayman Islands, Governor Jack said there was always much scope to improve, and referred specifically to the findings of the Auditor General on government financial accountability, which he said "cannot be allowed to continue".

Citing other areas where the governance of the islands is improving, the Governor noted that this week he had signed a tough new anti-corruption law and an amendment to the Elections Law that would reduce the scope for any potential abuse. In addition he pointed to the Freedom of Information Law, which will come into effect in January 2009, as well as ongoing improvements in customer service and the handling of complaints across government, including the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

“All of this will further strengthen the transparency of government and the checks and balances which we already have in place, notably through a range of laws, the courts and tribunals, through the Auditor General and the Complaints Commissioner, the media, and ultimately the ballot box. In a parliamentary democracy a major role must be played by the country’s elected representatives in the Legislative Assembly and in particular in the Public Accounts Committee, which is there to scrutinise the use of public funds,” the Governor said in the release.

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