Archive for November 30th, 2008

Local lawyers hand over sizeable cheque to NRF

| 30/11/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The charitable arm of one local law firm has made a donation of US$100,000 to the Cayman Islands National Recovery Fund in order to help the people of Cayman Brac that have been affected by the devastation of Hurricane Paloma. The Walkers Charitable Foundation said that with many Brac connections on the staff of the law firm it was glad to be able to assist with the recovery effort.

Grant Stein, global managing partner at Walkers and a Trustee of the Walkers Charitable Foundation said: "The storm passed so close to us here in Grand Cayman on the 7 November and it could have very easily been our neighbours on the Sister Islands that were once again helping us to rebuild and recover."

Walkers said that supporting the Cayman Islands National Recovery Fund is the best way of ensuring that the money gets straight to the people and rebuilding projects on the Brac that are in such desperate need.

"We are deeply gratified at the way that the business community in Cayman has stepped forward to play its part in the recovery effort, particularly in the current difficult economic climate," said Dr. Mark Laskin, Executive Director of the Cayman Islands National Recovery Fund. "So many of the people affected by Hurricane Paloma were elderly or infirm and the need in the Brac is quite substantial, perhaps even more so – on a per capita basis – than Grand Cayman after Ivan. In a small community like Cayman it is crucial that companies, such as Walkers has so generously done, are able to be responsible and responsive corporate community citizens"

The Walkers Charitable Foundation was established in March 2004 to receive and consolidate charitable donations arising out of client transactions in order to benefit worthycharitable causes. "As a group headquartered in Cayman, Walkers believes that this method is a particularly appropriate mechanism for members of the financial services industry in Cayman to give back to the community for the benefit of all Caymanians, particularly those in such dire need as the victims caught in Hurricane Paloma’s destructive path," said Nancy Lewis, chairman for the Walkers Charitable Foundation Donation Committee.

In recent years, the Walkers Charitable Foundation has made a number of substantial donations to charitable and community causes in Cayman such as the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands and the Cayman Islands Hospice.


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CIFSA winds down education campaign

| 30/11/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS):  For six months the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association (CIFSA) in partnership with the PR Unit of the Portfolio of Finance has been pursuing an education campaign aimed at raising awareness in the local community about the contribution the financial sector makes to Cayman’s economy and culture. According to organisers “Everybody’s Business” has had a positive impact but it is now winding down.


Although the organisers say that the push to explain what our financial industry does as well as highlight the opportunities that are available to young Caymanians went well it is now winding down.  The ‘Everybody’s Business’ programme will be taking a break while CIFSA evaluates alternatives for creating an ongoing educational programme it said in a press release.

  “The campaign was originally set to run for six months, but the response has been so positive that CIFSA is considering ways we can maintain the program over the long run” added Eduardo Silva, CIFSA Chairman. “There is obviously a need for this information to be distributed to the public and we want to see that need is met.”

The programme has featured the creation of a website, a travelling display unit hosted at businesses and government agency sites along with various events where industry leaders and successful young Caymanians shared their experiences with audiences at schools, community groups and professional associations, CIFSA said.

It also said that there were appearances on the most popular radio and television networks all of which was supported by advertising in the newspapers and radio stations. Each month two CIFSA members donated the funds required to operate the programme and in the final month dms Management Ltd. and the Cayman Islands Insurance Association (CIIA) footed the bill.

 Over the course of the six month campaign other sponsors included:  dms Management Ltd, Cayman National, KPMG, Julius Bar, Aon Cayman National Insurance Brokers, Deloitte, Butterfield Bank, Cayman Free Press, and Cayman Net News. “We are proud to be a part of this important effort,” said David Bree at dms Management Ltd.  “It is essential that every Caymanian realize what an important part of our islands’ economy and society that financial services has become over the last 20 years.  And that it is something that has to be nurtured and protected, just as we would our reefs and beaches and natural assets.” 

 Nigel Twohey at CIIA agreed and said that the programme strikes a balance, “between promoting the opportunities the sector provides while also making it clear that nothing can be taken for granted and we must all be proactive in taking the correct steps to protect the industry from potential threats and to position ourselves personally for success in the industry.”

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Severe eco-damage on Bluff

| 30/11/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The devastating impact of Hurricane Paloma on Cayman Brac has not just hit the people and their homes but it has also had a significant impact on the local natural eco-systems. Staff of the Department of Environment said that while damage to the marine environment was not too bad the Bluff forest was very badly hit and a number of the island’s brown booby population has also been lost.


The DoE said that an island-wide in-water survey of the near shore environment of both the Sister Islands revealed that damage to the marine environment could have been much worse; limited to the occasional removal of soft corals, sponges and algae in shallow areas and associated sand and rubble movement as a result of heavy wave action. “The lagoon on the south side of the Brac contained a sunken vessel and some housing and structural debris,” said Tim Austin, Director of Research, “this will require a clean up effort.”

Damage to the Bluff forest was more severe the local environmentalists noted. The once almost impenetrable greenery of the forest was laid open. Hardly a leaf was left in the canopy and in places, 99% of cover was lost. The tallest trees – those whose crowns emerged above the canopy, and those exposed to the full force of the winds by the developing roads network on the Bluff, bore the brunt of the damage.

In most areas, 5-20% of trees sustained severe damage, and it was noted that this damaged increased significantly towards the east end. Toppled trees included some well-known parrot nesting sites. Worst effected is the shrub land in the lighthouse area, suffering under the combined pressure of wind and salt-spray.  However many of these species are designed to survive extreme weather conditions. All the endemic flora of the Brac has been surveyed, and all species have survived the storm, including Verbesina caymanensis – a species unique to the cliff face around Peter’s Cave.

Some twenty one dead Brown Booby birds have been recorded, raising serious concerns that an even larger number may have perished in the storm. This represents a significant blow to the Brac’s Booby population, which will be surveyed again in December, in more detail. Close examination of the forest, however, revealed that, in most cases, the fine branches of the trees remained largely intact. Additionally, the under storey vegetation was much less effected by the wind.

“This is good news for the forest and its wildlife,” said Dr Mat DaCosta-Cottam. “The trees which have maintained their fine branches should be quick to re-bud, and the maintenance of the understory vegetation will mean that most of the forest wildlife will have had somewhere to shelter, and ride-out the storm”.

Two weeks after the storm, new shoots are already visible on many of the trees. During the interim period, however, a temporary feeding programme has been established, until the forest is recovered, to see the Brac birds and wildlife through the lean weeks ahead.

Supporting the campaign of Cayman Wildlife Rescue, Tracy Galvin of the Department of Environment has been co-ordinating the collection and distribution of food for the relief effort. DoE Technical Assistant Chris Dixon has been collecting unwanted fruit, kindly donated by local supermarkets, from around Grand Cayman. Kirks, Fosters and Hurleys are all actively contributing. Cayman Imports is supporting the project, through use of their chiller facility, and Cayman Airways Cargo are delivering several shipments each week.

DoE Marine Enforcement Officer Robert Walton is heading up the Brac side of the project, with the help of his father, George, and a volunteer team of Brac residents. Together, they have constructed and placed a dozen feeding stations at strategic locations around the island. Areas known to support large numbers of birds are being targeted – the elevated constructions allowing the birds to feed without attracting rats and predators. Individual feeders have also been placed around the island.  The DoE said that support from Brac residents for the project has really been overwhelming, despite the fact that most are dealing with the devastating repercussions of Paloma for themselves.

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Woman killed in crash

| 30/11/2008 | 7 Comments

(CNS):  UPDATED 1 Dec 11:00 am Yet another serious single vehicle car crash on Cayman’s roads has claimed a life. A 28 year old woman was killed on Sunday morning, 30 November when the car she was driving crashed into a pole along the Bodden Town Road in the Breakers area. The male passenger also sustained serious injuries and was taken to hospital, CNS has learned he was released yesterday evening.

Police have said that the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at around 8:10 am on this morning (Sunday) reporting that a car had crashed into a CUC light pole in the vicinity of Breakers Speedway on Bodden Town Road. Police and medics responded to the scene and found two persons in a white Toyota Camry, which had been travelling towards East End. The 28-year-old female driver died at the scene, while the male passenger sustained serious injuries and was taken to hospital. Scenes of Crime officers processed the scene and an accident reconstructionist is carrying out investigations.

This is the sixth death to occur on the road in Cayman this year there have also been a number of very serious casualties as a result of road crashes.

Anyone who witnessed the crash or believes they saw the vehicle prior to the crash is asked to contact Police Constable Kenville Holder on 926 1671.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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Another bouncing ball

| 30/11/2008 | 4 Comments

The Secretary-General of the OECD (a Paris based organisation whose staff enjoy privileged tax free remuneration packages, yet roundly criticises genuine tax free jurisdictions),  Angel Gurria, lobbed another ball onto the court on Friday 28th November.

Towards the end of his speech in Doha, he stated “We must all work to strengthen anti-corruption efforts to minimize tax evasion. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the massive loss of revenue through the diversion of public and private funds to third countries.”

So now corruption and tax evasion (by no means the same thing) are neatly tied together and will become the new mantra. Just in case people were getting bored with the mantra of money laundering and tax evasion.

Now he did not actually state that he had places like Cayman in mind when he referred to “third countries”, but the inference is clear and has quickly been drawn by the international media that picked up on the code words.

Certainly, Mr Gurria could not have had the UK in mind, even though the OECD recently issued a scathing report on the UK’s commitment to anti-corruption, particularly foreign bribery. Few will have missed the irony of the UK’s recent public statements about helping the overseas territories fight international corruption in the face of the UK’s continued foot dragging over the Bae fighter aircraft sale to Saudi Arabia (and how inconvenient of the US to bring this all to light by alleging the laundering of the commissions paid to the former Saudi ambassador in Washington). A further irony is that the UK is to take on the chair of the G-20 (a group of major economies furthering their own self interests, usually at the expense of smaller and/or poorer non-member nations). And at least one newspaper in the UK is urging the UK to use its position as the chair to push for further transparency in dependencies that are offshore financial centres.

Mr Gurria’s words will tie in with another project that has not been much noticed in Cayman yet. The World Bank (another organization with a poor history of transparency and dealing with corrupt practices with respect to aid from the Bank to third world countries) in 2007 launched its STAR project (stolen asset recovery initiative) to help developing countries trace and recover assets stolen from them by corrupt leaders, politicians and civil servants.

No one could argue against the importance of this project and Cayman should enthusiastically endorse and assist its implementation. But it would be a great shame if a thoroughly worthwhile endeavour of the World Bank was hijacked by Mr Gurria’s would-be global tax police to track down citizens who in their view are not paying enough tax (but are not engaged in public corruption). That will confuse and detract from the project and make participation much less enthusiastic.   

Cayman has recently enacted the Anti-Corruption Law (ACL), but it has as yet to be brought into effect. This will be of great assistance in allowing Cayman to assist in the legitimate investigation and prosecution of foreign corruption and the tracing, freezing and recovery of relevant assets (should there unfortunately be any in Cayman).

But the ACL is manifestly defective in one key area. The Law provides for an Anti-Corruption Commission mandated to investigate local and foreign corruption. All well and good, one might conclude. But not when one looks at the composition of the governing board of the Commission: the Police Commissioner (also the chairman), the Auditor General, the Complaints Commissioner and two qualified private citizens. This does not measure up in comparison to equivalent commissions elsewhere.

Our Commission must be independent and with a strong board of qualified persons, who are entirely outside Government, the police and any other statutory agency or authority or similar and free of any conflicts of interest (real or perceived). It would stand Cayman in good stead internationally and would make the community here sleep more soundly if this could be done sooner rather than later.

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