Archive for August 22nd, 2008

No Spear Guns for Grouper

| 22/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): In an effort to further protect the Cayman Islands’ propulation of Nassau Grouper, the use of spear guns to catch Nassau Groupers has been banned. The Marine Conservation Board announced on 20 August that this prohibition has been added to the Marine Conservation Directives and is immediately effective.

The board said that spear gun definitions include mechanical or pneumatic types of Hawaiian sling pole spears; stick spears; harpoons; rods or any devices with pointed ends which can impale, stab or pierce any marine life. This excludes a ‘striker’, which is a wooden pole, no shorter than 10 feet, with not more than two barb-less prongs attached to one end.

Continue Reading

Spill closes road section

| 22/08/2008 | 1 Comment

Public Service Announcement: Residents are advised to avoid the section of Eastern Avenue from Shedden Road to the traffic light at the junction with Godfrey Nixon Way (near to Young World Fashion). The RCIPS Traffic Department has closed this section of the road to facilitate the clean-up.

Continue Reading

Alfresco sells instore TV business

| 22/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Having finalized a deal to purchase In-Store Digital Media from Alfresco Advertising, WestStar TV said it would be expanding the number of locations where screen advertising will be on view. The TV firm said with the acquisition of the company, which will now be known as Insite Media, it aims to reach additional viewers through high quality graphic and video content. Cathy Williams (Left) of Alfresco said she was happy with the deal.

Currently operating in all Foster’s Food Fair locations, the islands’ television firm said the business model will be undergoing significant changes in the months ahead. “This medium is being upgraded throughout the Cayman Islands complementing WestStar TV’s already impressive advertising portfolio which currently includes two free-to-air broadcast television stations, digital cable television, Cayman’s tourist information channel: Discover Cayman, The Real Estate Channel Cayman Islands, Marquee Cinema, and Hollywood Theatres,” Weststar said in a statement.

Cathy Williams Alfresco’s Sales & Marketing Director said the firm was happy with the deal.  “We are delighted with the acquisition as advertisers will benefit from WestStar’s planned upgrades to the programme,” and she added that it would enable Alfresco to pursue new regional opportunities as well as focusing on the core business

Hilary McKenzie Cahill, Alfresco’s Advertising Director said that Alfresco had done a great job introducing narrow casting as a very effective new medium to the Cayman Islands. "Now WestStar can take it to the next level by enhancing it with their great local news and weather content etc," she added.

Weststar said Insite Media will feature locally-produced content specific to each venue providing useful information for viewers while increasing value for advertisers. “The addition of Insite Media means WestStar TV will be able to offer comprehensive marketing solutions targeting very specific audiencesfrom both a demographic and geographic perspective,” the firm said. “This exciting acquisition will be followed by several new product offerings related to Web-delivered video and state-of-the-art visual electronic media by the end of 2008.”



Continue Reading

Museum project completed

| 22/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Almost four years after Hurricane Ivan hit the Cayman Islands in September 2004 when the National Museum became one its many victims, the conservation and renovation work is now finished. Although the museum will not officially open until January of next year, the Minister of Culture, Alden McLaughlin, paid a visit to the new museum this week to congratulate those involved in the project.


“The continued strengthening of the cultural identity of the Caymanian people has received a major shot in the arm with the completion of the Museum restoration works. The building adds a modern facility to the Islands’ cultural amenities while at the same time preserving the foremost example of Caymanian architecture that the buildings represent,” said McLaughlin.

The renovation has been the largest restoration project in the history of the Cayman Islands and the facilities have been strengthened to create greater resiliency against any future threats to the integrity of the building. 

The Ministry’s Facilities Manager Tommy Ebanks had overall responsibility for the project and he explained that maintaining the authenticity of the original construction was important. “As in former days, they burned the substance formed in termite nests, generating a powder that was mixed with linseed oil.  This was applied to the “iron wood” in the building,” he said.

The work was completed by Unit Construction and Gordon McLaughlin, who Ebanks said showed enormous attention to detail and workmanship.  “I remember his producing samples of every joint and cut he intended to do. This ensured authentic replication of the original,” he said.

A number of consultants were employed to ensure historic accuracy including the Museum Director Anita Ebanks, now Acting Director Debra Barnes-Tabora, Deputy Director Doss Solomon, and Cuban conservationists, whose contribution was considerably supported by the professional expertise of Historical Preservation Architect Patricia Green of Jamaica. However, modern technology has also been utilized with an IT system that will provide virtual tours at the finger tips of visitors. The building also has a fire protection system, and a new mechanical system that incorporates a dehumidifier to deter any potential mould and termite infestation.  

Chair Harris McCoy said he was grateful to everyone involved who understood the importance of a strong cultural heritage to the continued well-being of the Cayman Islands. 

“The level of support and what we have been able to achieve is a demonstration of what a Museum has to be – a cultural beacon that serves to ground people and to bring them together.  Things Caymanian should be respected and conserved, and those who have made this landmark achievement possible show their understanding and commitment to that goal,” McCoy said.

 “The outcome did not come without challenges and we had our private moments of doubts, but we are all immensely proud of the outcome: It is now a beautiful, solid building, balancing that critical tension between preservation of an icon and the modernization needed to serve contemporary Cayman.” 

“It was a pleasure to work with such a cohesive group,” particularly the Museum team “who brought their encyclopaedic knowledge to the project,” Ebanks said.

Having worked in the building straight out of school at age 16, in the Lands and Survey Department, housed in the building in pre-Museum days Ebanks said he was proud tohave .  been involved with restoring the building 26 years later.

 “It’s a landmark,” not only for the Islands, but in his life, he said.

Following the handing over of the keys, Barnes-Tabora said it was an amazing feeling to see a 200-year-old, authentic two-storey structure completely and accurately restored and ready to embrace another century. 

“To have witnessed its transition from a state of disrepair to one of pure regal beauty, is truly incredible, to say the least,” she said, adding that the islands now have a museum rich in character, utilizing ‘go green’ efforts, and filled with the latest technology.


Continue Reading

Price of white collar crime

| 22/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Author of Stolen Without a Gun Walter Pavlo who now lectures on corruption in the business world was convicted of embezzling $6 million from his employer, which he sent to the Cayman Islands. He was sentenced two years in prison and recently that said his decline into crime came from poor decision making.  “I started bending the rules and it became easier and easier,” he said.

"It seemed like I was getting away with it and it seemed like other people approved, so I lost my bearing. It doesn’t mean that everyone does it; it just means that I did.”

Appearing as the guest speaker at The Collins College of Business at the University of Tulsa’s annual business ethics seminar, Pavlo explained how easily it happened, according to the Journal Record. Pavlo said the speaking engagements allow him to share his experience in an upfront, candid matter.

“I think it’s important people know I was punished,” he said. “I think too often people think white-collar felons just get a slap on the wrist. I paid a significant price for what I did. It ruined me financially and it impacted my family and my children.”

In the mid-1990s, Pavlo was a senior manager at MCI, where he was responsible for the billing and collecting of nearly $1 billion in monthly revenue for the company’s career finance division.

Pavlo said during that time a large number of customers were not paying their bills, and he was finding a considerable amount of fraud. When a customer wasn’t paying, employees of MCI were supposed to report it, but Pavlo said they didn’t.

“We didn’t disclose anybody for a number of reasons, but the main thing is we didn’t think we were doing anything wrong, or it would last very long,” he said. “There is subjectivity that comes with pronouncing something as uncollectable and bad debt, we just chose not to do it, and after awhile it really did become a problem and we were hiding things.”

Pavlo said the events started to snowball once he became jaded and tainted by customers that he saw defrauding MCI and he wanted to find a way to strike back. Starting in March 1996, Pavlo, a member of his staff and a business associate outside of MCI began to commit fraud involving several MCI customers. Over a six-month period, seven MCI customers were defrauded, resulting in $6 million in payments to a bank in the Cayman Islands.

“So I was doing stuff for the company and doing something for me,” he said. “In the end I wasn’t a very good criminal. I was nervous and was very scared of getting caught, and knew this wouldn’t end well.”

Pavlo pleaded guilty in 2001 to wire fraud and money laundering and in prison he wrote a book as a personal confession. Since getting out he has turned his crime to profit with speaking engagements and promotion of his book. “There are a lot of things that happen in business and there are a lot of reasons why people cross the line,” he said, adding that people need to know why.

Continue Reading

Drugs seized at ports of entry

| 22/08/2008 | 3 Comments

(CNS): Customs officers have seized over a kilo (2.2lb) of cocaine with a street value of around $75,000 and 2000lb of ganja with a potential street value of as much as $3 million. Officers also assisted in the arrest of eight people in drug related incidents at both Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA) and the George Town Port.

On 9 June the suspicious activity of a returning work permit holder at the airport led to customs officials calling the K-9 Unit, which resulted in the search of the Honduran national after the dog handler was alerted to potential drugs by the dog. A considerable amount of powered cocaine was found on him and he was subsequently charged with importation and possession of cocaine with intent to supply.

As a result of his arrest, further investigations were carried out with the assistance of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) Drugs Task Force (DTF), which led to the detention of a Caymanian man for the involvement in the importation of cocaine. “The cocaine is in powder form and the unofficial weight is half a kilo,” Assistant Collector and Head of Customs Narcotic Enforcement Team/Intelligence Unit Trevor Williams said.

Several days later, a young Caymanian man returning from Honduras was also arrested and charged with importation and possession of cocaine with intent to supply at the airport after a search yielded approximately half a kilo of cocaine in powder on his person. Customs officials did not indicate whether the incidents were related but said investigations were continuing in both cases.

Two Caymanians were arrested on 8 August and charged with importation and possession of cocaine with intent to supply after suspicions were aroused and a search revealed cocaine in powder form on each man. The drugs weighed some 120 grams (4.2 oz).

A juvenile wasalso apprehended at the airport for the importation of a pellet gun on his arrival from Miami. “The pellet gun is a restricted item that requires a permit to import,” explained Williams. An x-ray search of the juvenile’s baggage led to the discovery of the firearm. He was interviewed in his mother’s presence and subsequently taken to Summary Court where he was fined $400 and the gun forfeited.

Meanwhile at the George Town Port, a search of what was supposedly an empty US-bound container on 3 July resulted in the discovery of 2,000 lbs of ganja when customs officers discovered a false compartment at the back of the 40-foot container.“The concealment was discovered during a random inspection by Customs of outbound containers,” Williams explained, adding that incident is still under investigation.

In another incident three cruise ship passengers from the US were arrested at the cruise terminal on 30 June after they were seen acting suspiciously when they arrived to re-board their ship. One was subsequently released without charge, while the other two were charged with possession of cocaine and ganja after being searched and found with a small amount of the drugs. They appeared in court on 1 July, resulting in a fine of $400 for Ronald Emanuel (30) for possession of cocaine, and Matthew Marmaros (21) was fined $350 for possession of ganja. In both instances, the drugs were deemed for personal use. All three men have since left the islands.

Williams said that the arrests were all a result of the vigilance of customs officers. “I am delighted that the admirable efforts of our officers have taken a substantial quantity of illegal drugs and a firearm off our streets. The arrests clearly demonstrate our zero tolerance to illegal substances and firearms. We take these cases very seriously and will continue to pursue them vigorously,” he added.

Continue Reading

NRA admits using illegal fill

| 22/08/2008 | 8 Comments

(CNS): As the Mahogany Estates residents continue their campaign to stop Whiterock Investments from turning their backyard from an unofficial quarry into an official one, the National Roads Authority (NRA) has admitted that it did inadvertently use fill excavated from the quarry in question, but has since ceased to do business with the company.

In a response to enquiries made by CNS, Brian Tomlinson, Director of the NRA, explained that the Authority purchased 814.30 cubic yards of shot rock from Whiterock Investment Ltd in July of 2007 under one order. “When the dubious disposition of the business came to light, all business transactions with that company were stopped and we have not done any business with them since nor do we intend to do anymore business with them,” he said.

The issue of the NRS’s use of the fill had come to public attention earlier this week when the residents of Mahogany Estates held a press conference (Tuesday 19 August) to tell the wider Caymanian public about their dilemma. Reverend Nicholas Sykes, the spokesperson for the group explained that residents had followed trucks leaving Whiterock’s illegal quarrying operation in Beach Bay and discovered that apart from ending up at one major private sector development site, the fill had also gone to the NRA and in particular in to the east-west arterial by pass.

The residents have also received a stay of execution this week as a result of the Department of Planning’s decision to postpone the original hearing planned for 27 August, allowing them a little more time to prepare their objections to the application made by Lorenzo Berry of Whiterock Investments to make his quarrying operation official. However, without legal representation and given the history of the situation residents say they are not confident that they will be able to prevent the inevitable granting of planning permission to turn their neighbourhood into a commercial quarry.

Berry has, according to residents and the evidence of a 17-foot deep crater on his land, been excavating and blasting in a low-density residential zone for a decade, on and off, contrary to planning permission (see Residents appeal for help in quarry dispute).

CNS contacted the Director of Planning Kenneth Ebanks for his thoughts on the subject but he explained that because the situation was in dispute he could not offer a contribution. "The subject matter is to be heard by the CPA in the near future and as such I will not make any comments as it may be prejudicial to the process.” He did however say he would be willing to discuss the issue once the application had been through the legal process.

Berry currently has an application pending to excavate and entirely level 44 acres of ocean front bluff and natural forest containing endangered, indigenous flora and fauna, which is currently as high as 30 feet in some parts. There is no doubt that this action will cause serious flooding to a number of Beach Bay communities should a storm occur and will cause untold damage to the environment as well as make some property owners’ land inaccessible.

The introduction of a commercial quarrying operation will also further disrupt the lives of the residents in the Beach Bay area and in particular the residents of Mahogany Estates who have already suffered enormously over the last ten years as a result of the blasting, excavation and removal of fill from the de facto quarry on their doorstep.

Despite the illegality of the operation and the residents’ persistent complaints to everyone, including Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts and Governor Stuart Jack, not to mention their attempts to enlist the support of various agencies and organisations, residents have had little support for their cause and have now gone public in the hope that someone will help them. The residents are also appealing for pro bono legal support to help them present their case and fight what they believe is both illegal and immoral.

Continue Reading

Former MLA opts for Grand Court

| 22/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Most of the charges against former UDP Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Sister Islands, Lyndon Martin will be heard in the Grand Court. The charges all relate to accusations of corruption and an alleged break-in at the Cayman Net News premises on North Sound Road, George Town, in 2007, where Martin was working as a senior reporter at the time.

Martin appeared in Summary Court yesterday morning, 21 August, for a preliminary investigation and will next appear in the Grand Court in October.
Aside from charges relating to the break-in, Martin faces charges of making false accusations and doing an act to pervert the course of public justice, which are supposedly connected to allegations made against the publisher of Net News, Desmond Seales and Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis . The allegations triggered an independent internal police investigation, which has been carried out by SIO Martin Bridger formerly of the Metropolitan Police in London, now employed by the Governor’s office. Bridger has been in Cayman with a team of UK detectives since September of last year investigating issues of alleged corruption within the RCIPS.
Bridger first came to the Cayman Islands to begin an undercover operation allegedly as a result of Martin’s accusations that suggested Seales and Ennis were in a corrupt relationship. Bridger however said that he and his detectives soon discovered that those allegations were completely false, but as a result of the investigations there were other concerns which came to light regarding potential corruption within the Police Service.
In the wake of Bridger’s enquiries, which are ongoing, Commissioner of Police Stuart Kernohan, Chief Inspector John Jones and Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon were suspended from duty in March of this year. Dixon was subsequently arrested and charged with 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. Details of the charges were made public by Dixon’s lawyer Michael Alberga at the beginning of this month and relate to two separate incidents, one of which includes the release of two of Martin’s relatives who had been arrested on charges relating to illegal gambling.

Continue Reading

Can Jamaica’s Sprinters Fight Crime?

| 22/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(Time Magazine): The secret of Usain Bolt’s sprinting prowess, at least according to his Aunt Lilly, lies in a substance the precocious Olympic champion has consumed for years: the mouth-watering yellow yams she still cooks for him at Miss Lilly’s Bar and Shop in Trelawny parish, deep in the hilly heartland of Jamaica known as Cockpit Country. "You can count on that," Lilly Bolt, 56, told TIME by telephone from the patio of her restaurant, where Usain also likes to dance to roots reggae music.  Go to article

Continue Reading

What do hurricanes and kangaroos have in common?

| 22/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(Times Online): The hurricane season is well under way, and the storms are coming thick and fast. Over the past week, Tropical Storm Fay swept though the Caribbean, leading to 14 deaths in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, before landing a fair-sized punch on Florida, even though it did not reach hurricane power. Go to article

Continue Reading