Archive for December 12th, 2008

Legal moustaches help fight cancer

| 12/12/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Two dozen men from the Walkers office managed to raise around CI$3500 for the Cayman Islands Cancer Society when they cultivated a little facial hair during ‘Movember’, the month formerly known as November. The legal ‘Men of Movember’ all registered along with other competitors with a clean shaven face at Coconut Mo’s at the start of the month but things were very different as the month came to a close.

After grooming and cultivating their Mo for some four weeks all attention turned to the MOsquerade Ball at Margaritaville, which signaled the end of the growing period and the climax to Movember. Walkers enjoyed more success at this gala event, with associate Matthew Taber celebrating victory for the ‘Best Trucker Mo 2008′ in the Cayman Islands. "It has been a great effort from all the Walkers Mo Bros in Cayman and around the world," Taber said. "I’m proud to have been voted Trucker Mo’ 08 and it made some of the humiliation worthwhile.  Keep on Truckin’."

Awards were also handed out in a number of other categories, including Magnum PI, Ginger, Under 12 and Sexiest Moustache. Movember is an event of growing global prominence and Walkers has certainly made an important contribution to the success of the overall effort, along with many professionals from elsewhere in the financial services sector. "There is a theory that sporting ‘tashes going forward will increase the gravitas of us Cayman Islands lawyers and convince our clients that we do not just wear shorts and work from laptops on the beach," said Joss Morris, the associate at Walkers who coordinated the firm’s impressive efforts.

There was yet further international recognition for Walkers as Matthew Cowman, an associate in the firm’s British Virgin Islands office was included in the ‘Tachetastic Top Six’ from online legal publication Roll on Friday. Up against rival moustaches from law firms all over the world, the Walkers man was victorious, scoring a huge 52% of the popular vote to claim the title of the ‘World’s Best Moustache’.

At the end of Movember, participants were free to shave for the first time in the month, although some will have obviously resisted, having become attached to their moustaches, as will, no doubt, their wives or girlfriends.  The Walkers Cayman Islands Movember team consisted of: Joss Morris, Gerard Milne, Matthew Taber, Philip Dickinson, Patrick Colegrave, Patrick Head, Richard Addlestone, Tim Buckley, Andrew Miller, Martin Davies, Justin Hart, Julian Black, Philip Paschalides, Barnaby Gowrie, Richard Munden, Alasdair Foster, Nick Rogers, Greg Barwick, Rolf Lindsay, Andre Helsloot, Ramesh Maharaj, Julian Ashworth, Philip McGhee and Johan Bear. 


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Drowning victim found

| 12/12/2008 | 7 Comments

(CNS): Update 5:20 pm Friday – Detective Chief Inspector Peter Kennett, who is coordinating the search for Ian Cummings, has released a statement that a body has been found that is thought to be him. “Human remains have been recovered from the area of Moon Bay. It is not possible to make an identification but it is strongly suspected to be the body of Ian Cummings,” he said. “A post mortem will take place tomorrow and attempts will be made to confirm identification by DNA.” Kennet said that the victim’s’s family was aware of developments to date.

Divers are still continuing to search the area for Ian Cummings who was reported missing at sea on Wednesday, 10 December, during a fishing trip in the Moon Bay area. In a release earlier today, Kennett explained that he had enlisted help from the local dive community.

“Divers from three local companies, Sunset Divers, Red Sail Sports and Ocean Frontiers, have kindly volunteered to assist police in carrying out an underwater search in the Moon Bay area. This will be coordinated by police aboard the Defender,” Kennett said. “If Ian is not found, then helicopter Rescue 1 will again be launched in conjunction with Defender to try and find his body.”

Cummings (36) was reported missing on Wednesday night after the boat he was in capsized whilst on a fishing trip in the Moon Bay area. The 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at around 10 pm from a man who had been out fishing with Cummings. He explained that they had both been fishing in Bodden Town in the Moon Bay area where Cummings lived when the boat capsized. Cummings started swimming to shore leaving the other man with the boat for a short while before he was forced to abandon the boat and made his way to shore, but Cummings could not be found.

Police and medics attended the scene and a search of the area by Marine and Air Support Units and foot patrols was conducted but had to be called off at 2:45 am on Thursday, 11 December, due to worsening weather conditions.

Kennett said yesterday that the helicopter and jet skis were out for hours on Wednesday night in an effort to try and find Cummings. “The search resumed at first light by sea, in the air and on land, but there’s no sight of him and we have recovered the boat. I think there is little doubt that Ian has tragically drowned. I can’t see any other logical explanation. The currents are very strong and treacherous in this area.”

The RCIPS said it extends its condolences to Ian’s family and friends.


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Vandals mash up Brac school

| 12/12/2008 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Vandals appear to have entered Cayman Brac High School classrooms by tearing off louvered shutters before causing enough damage in eight rooms to shut down the school at the end of the first week that all students had returned following Hurricane Paloma. In one classroom a small fire had apparently been started on one of the desks, and foam from fire extinguishers covered everything in several of the rooms vandalised. (Left: Police inspect evidence)

The monitor of one computer from the computer lab was found in the sink in the boys’ bathroom, and the perpetrators had also apparently left taps on in the bathrooms, which had not only flooded the bathrooms but had also run the cisterns dry. It is believed that one or more of the vandals had urinated on a teacher’s chair and a container with what may have been diesel was found. Furniture was thrown across classrooms, books scattered and posters ripped fromthe walls.

According to the Ministry of Education, the damage, which reportedly occurred late  last night was discovered as students arrived at the school this morning. Alden McLaughlin, Minister of Education said he was shocked and disappointed that the school could be the target of such an act of wanton vandalism.

“Destroying the school, at a time when the Cayman Brac community is trying to recover from the devastating blow it received from Hurricane Paloma is particularly heinous” he added. “It is my hope that whomever is responsible will be identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler explained that the vandalism had caused the school to close. “Due to this act of vandalism the Department of Education Services had no option but to close the school today at 9:00 am and send all of the students home. Schools are at the heart of a community and to strike out at the Cayman Brac community in this way, at this time is unconscionable,” she said.

“I do however want to thank our teachers for their assistance and unwavering dedication to the welfare of our students during yet another difficult time, and assure them that every effort will be made to once again restore the classrooms so that students may continue their learning as soon as possible. Further announcements will be made to keep parents and teachers informed of when school will re-open and in the meantime we will be keeping the Cayman Brac High School and the community in our prayers.”

Despite the damage, it is thought the school will re-open onMonday.

Cayman Brac High School re-opened for all of its students for the first time since Hurricane Paloma on Monday 8 December. Years 7, 8 and 9 joined Years 11 and 12, who have been back at school and focussing on their important exam classes since Friday 21 November and the Year 10 students who returned Monday 24 November.

According to the Ministry, sufficient repairs have now been completed at West End Primary School to facilitate its reopening, but in light of the proximity to Christmas, West End Primary School, along with the other primary schools in Cayman Brac, will formally reopen in the New Year. For the remainder of the current term, the camp-based activities that have proved a successful interim measure for the past two weeks will continue.

Learning Community Leader for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, Tammy Banks Dacosta, explained, “With significant assistance from the Department of Education Services, we have been able to help our students move through the healing process. In addition to receiving some education provision, primary age students have also been enjoying lunch and breakfast.

With clean-up and construction crews working often at weekends at long into the evening, it is hoped that all schools will be ready by next week.

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Dart’s hurricane team to share experiences

| 12/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Offering the benefit of their experience to a regional audience, Derek Haines and Chris Pope of Dart Realty will be joining the National Hurricane Conference’s Latin America & Caribbean committee and speak at the Caribbean All-Hazards conference next week in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Although the conference will cover all types of natural hazards, the presentation by Haines and Pope will focus primarily on hurricane preparedness and emergency planning.

According to a statement released by Dart Realty, the conference seeks to bring together government agencies, emergency personnel, academic institutions and the private sector to exchange information and develop methods to reduce the harmful impacts of hazards and disasters in the Caribbean region.

The 2008 hurricane season, which officially ended last week, was the fourth most active on record with a total of sixteen named storms. The two major storms which affected the Cayman Islands, Hurricanes Gustav and Paloma, saw hurricane contingency plans deployed across the country. Haines and Pope, who are responsible for Dart’s hurricane preparations, will share their experiences and make recommendations for effective contingency planning using Camana Bay as an example.

“One of the most successful aspects of our preparations this year was the conversion of the parking structure at Camana Bay into an emergency refuge for staff, tenants and their families," said Haines, Operations Manager at Dart Realty. “The multi-storey car park on Forum Lane was screened in using a special hurricane fabric, providing ample space for families to shelter from the storm. The set-up worked extremely well and we received positive feedback from those who stayed overnight for Gustav in August.”

The fabric is a new technology that hasbeen widely used and tested in the United States, but had not previously been used in Cayman, Dart said in a release. The light-weight material’s protective strength has proven to be comparable if not more effective than traditional steel or aluminium hurricane shutters. An additional bonus is the visibility that the material provides, allowing occupants of the shelter to see what is happening outdoors.

“The screened parking structure is ideal for a refuge as it provides large amounts of floor space at increasing levels of height, plus there is no roof to come off,’ explained Haines. “After the storm has passed, the panels can be easily removed allowing the breezes through, which means there is no problem running either generators or barbeques if emergency accommodation is required for any length of time.  During Gustav, we provided basic necessities such as cots, toilets and a first aid post to make people as comfortable as possible, but the car park is only intended to act as an emergency refuge rather than a fully equipped shelter.”

Haines added that the experience in running a refuge, such as the importance of keeping a careful headcount, providing marshals and segregating animals from humans, are all topics that will be discussed at the conference.

“The conversion of a parking structure into an emergency refuge has garnered attention locally, as both private sector organisations and government agencies have been to view the set-up to see if similar systems might be viable elsewhere on the island. With just the two Camana Bay parking structures alone, the system would allow us to double if not triple emergency refuge capacity on the island in the case of a national emergency,” added Pope, Logistics and Purchasing Manager at Dart Realty. “We have also been working with the fire, police and health services to discuss how we can help in housing emergency vehicles and staff during a storm, allowing them to provide effective relief in the aftermath.”

At the All-Hazards Conference in Jamaica next week, Haines and Pope will discuss best practices for emergency refuge operation and the importance of planning and preparedness for businesses, governments and individual families, and will also cover post-evacuation and business continuity plans.

‘In a region that is vulnerable to natural hazards, we have the additional challenge of being isolated on different islands,’ said Pope. “The aim of the conference is to pool our resources so that the All-Hazards committeecan act like a FEMA for the Caribbean. We are honoured to have been invited to speak, and look forward to a productive and rewarding week ahead.”

Also representing the Cayman Islands on the All-Hazards conference committee is Dr Barbara Carby, Director of Hazard Management. The All-Hazard Conference runs from 15 to 17 December at Rose Hall Resort & Spa in Montego Bay, Jamaica. For more information, visit

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Police still warn of scams

| 12/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Despite numerous alerts recently as a result of what police are calling “various financial scams” that have been circulating in the community, the Financial Crimes Unit (FCU) of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) says it is stepping up efforts to protect the public from the threat of these cons and scams.


On Tuesday, 16 December, between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm, FCU officers will be manning an information desk that will be located outside Scotia Bank on Edward Street, George Town offering crime and fraud prevention tips. This initiative comes in the wake of an increase in the run-up to the Christmas season.

Detective Sergeant Michael Montaque said the public was are encouraged to stop by and speak with the officers, who will be able to respond to questions about fraudulent crime. “Individuals will also be able to receive advice on how to avoid becoming victims of such crimes,” he said.

Anyone who has been a victim of fraud should contact their local police station or the FCU on 949-8797. 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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FOI law gets official nod

| 12/12/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): How much of a real impact the introduction of an FOI law on Cayman’s traditionally tightlipped government offices will have remains to be seen, but the law will come into effect in the first week of the New Year. Speaking in the LA this week when the regulations were tabled, Kurt Tibbetts said it proved the current administration’s commitment to openness and transparency.

Following the tabling of the Freedom of Information (General) Regulations, 2008, in the Legislative Assembly, Governor Stuart Jack has announced that the Freedom of Information Law, 2007, will come into force on Monday, 5 January 2009. Addressing members of the LA, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said Cayman was one of the few countries in the world that had continually sought public participation during all stages of the creation of the FOI Law and FOI Regulations.

 “We have proven our commitment to an open, transparent government in accordance with the current global FOI trends,” he said.  “As shown upon implementation in other jurisdictions worldwide, FOI legislation improves the relationship and trust between the government and the public, ensures greater efficiency in public sector management processes and allows for greater participation by the people in national decision-making.  Freedom of Information legislation plays a vital role in the system of constitutional democracy and as such…I am certain the entire Cayman Islands will reap FOI’s positive benefits.”

The commencement order was made in Cabinet according to section 1(2) of the FOI Law, and was published in Extraordinary Gazette #45 on Wednesday, 10 December 2008. It provides the public with a general right of access to records held by the Cayman Islands Government, and the FOI Regulations govern the administration of the FOI Law and include sections on the functions and duties of information managers, timelines and fees for FOI requests, third party rights, and provisions regarding the public interest test and personal information. For more information on the FOI Law and to learn how to make a request, visit .


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Immigration boss predicts speedier applications

| 12/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The much heralded changes to the Immigration Law are now beginning to take effect and the Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson has said the new system, once fully operational, will significantly reduce processing time for annual work permits from between four to six weeks to just over two weeks. He said the goal is to make the department more efficient not increase the number of foreign workers.

Manderson echoed the mantra of government over the last few weeks when he said the move to have immigration staff process work permit applications is aimed at keeping the Cayman Islands competitive as a global financial and tourism centre while securing Caymanian jobs.

However, in the wake of the Strategic Policy Statement this Week, UDP opposition member Cline Glidden said the new amendments would make it easier for employers to hire cheaper foreign workers, and that might undermine the prospect of Caymanian workers. He noted there was a serious disconnect at the moment with unemployment rising to 3.8% while work permit applications were also growing.

The new amendment, which was passed in the Legislative Assembly recently, allows for what are being termed as straightforward work permits, to be decided administratively by immigration staff instead of having to go the Work Permit and Business Staffing Plan Boards. The boards, which meet twice weekly will now concentrate on the more complex work permit applications.

Manderson noted that it was increasingly difficult for the boards to keep up with the workload as Cayman’s workforce expanded. “While the board’s do a tremendous  job, it was always difficult to expect volunteers to take increasingly more  time out of their regular job routines to decide on permits, especially those permits which were non-contentious,” he said

He said that the expectation was to reduce the processing time by about a month, and once fully operational the system should clear non-controversial annual work permits in 15 days.

Manderson emphasised that the new system is not about increasing the number of permits issued or the number of non-Caymanians in the workforce. It is, he said, focused on improving the efficiency of application processing to the ultimate benefit of Cayman and its people. He said the global recession has many multi-national companies re-examining their business priorities and Cayman authorities are seeking to make immigration policies more businesses-friendly in an effort to encourage corporations to remain in the Islands.

“Ensuring that businesses can speedily get the permits they need for staffers with skills not found in Cayman is important in simplifying doing business locally.  “More importantly, this move will also help to secure the jobs of many Caymanians who are employed by these international companies,” Manderson added.

He also reiterated his commitment made earlier this year to ensure that more Caymanians benefit from the economic prosperity generated here, adding that the administrative grant system would give the boards and the department more time to dedicate to that purpose.

“The boards will focus on more complex cases, such as permits for which a Caymanian has applied, as well as those dealing with applications for key employee status,” he said, explaining these require more in-depth examination and investigation.  “Having staff focus on more clear-cut cases will create more time for the boards to help Caymanians access good opportunities in the local job market.

The Immigration Amendment Law also includes the development of a new fee schedule for work permits, defining fees chargeable for certain professions, as well as an express system for temporary work permits, whereby a decision will be communicated within forty eight hours.

In addition, the work permit requirement for representatives of foreign manufacturers coming to Cayman for a period of seven days or less to repair products under warranty has been removed.  


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Minister says he will bring minimum wage

| 12/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Despite opposition from some in the hospitality business, Minister Alden McLaughlin says he is determined to implement the minimum wage under an amendment to the existing Labour Law before this parliament comes to an end next March. He said the main stumbling block has been how those working as bartenders and waiting staff would be paid when salaries have traditionally been made up of a combination of basic wages and tips.

“What has complicated it is the issue in the hospitality industry as people get a small salary but then they are paid gratuities on top, which in high season can see staff earn substantial rates but in low season they may get very little. The reality is the employers in the restaurant and bar business have traditionally relied heavily on the gratuities to subsidise wages, and so it is to be expectedthat they will continue to resist a flat fee minimum wage,” said McLaughlin, who has responsibility for employment.

He explained, however, that talks with the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) had revealed the possibility of a formula that the industry could be persuaded to accept. He said they might accept some sort of combination, whereby the staff would be guaranteed a minimum wage but in high season it could be made up of gratuities as well as the minimal salary offered by the restaurant or bar.

“I intend to see that this amendment to the Labour Law is made before the next election. No matter what happens, I will do this,” he said. The minister would not be drawn on what the figure for the minimum wage would be, but he has said in the past that it would be nothing like the high figures that some people would want.

He also said the minimum wage was not going to resolve all Cayman’s employment ills. Given the revelation in this week’s Strategic Policy Statement that the workforce was still growing but the number of Caymanians out of work had also risen, McLaughlin said there was no quick fix to the issue. He noted that the problem was a result of the worsening economic situation, where marginal workers were the first casualties.

“There is no magic solution to this problem and there will always be tensions when you have such a high reliance on foreign labour. When you try and regulate or make it more expensive to hire people, there will always be push back from the business community. Given that the cost of doing business went up this year, everybody is looking for ways to cut costs and that may mean reducing labour costs and cutting jobs,” he said.

However, he rumours that only three Caymanians were working on one of the government projects sites was total fabrication, he noted. There had been accusations, however, that some of the sub-contractors on one of the sites were not paying full pensions and health insurance, which was being investigated, and the Minister said it was the responsibility of the general contractor to ensure that the firms it used were legitimate and adhering to labour regulations.



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Ellio eyes UDP for ride to LA

| 12/12/2008 | 40 Comments

(CNS): The controversial radio talk show host, Ellio Solomon, has said that he is considering joining the United Democratic Party’s (UDP) slate of candidates for the district of George Town in next year’s general elections, depending on the outcome of talks between him and the party. Solomon said that running as an independent had natural limitations and he wanted to make sure he was in the best possible position to advance the cause of Caymanians should he be elected.

Having run in the 2005 election and failed to gain a seat as a sole independent candidate in the district of George Town, Solomon, the former publisher of Caypolitics, is acquainted with the rough and tumble of the local political scene. Having taken over the longstanding breakfast radio talk show CrossTalk, the outspoken would-be politician has also raised his profile in the community and become something of a household name since he last appeared on the ballot paper.

He told CNS he did not know whether his role as a host on the Rooster talk show would transfer to votes or not, but said the Caymanian people would be able to judge for themselves whether or not he was a worthy candidate as he had made it very clear every morning what his position was on many issues. “I have been as transparent as possible and the people have had every opportunity to hear what I think,” he said.

He insisted that, despite a release from the UDP announcing his likely candidacy with that party, he had not made a formal commitment, but the discussions were ongoing and he wanted to be as open as possible. Solomon said he was in the process of sitting down with party members and seeing how close his position on important issues was to that of the party. The decision, he said, would be based on how he, if elected, could best serve his country.

“My priorities are to serve the Caymanian people at large and to ensure real opportunities are out there for everyone,” he said. “I believe the Cayman Islands has a great deal of potential which is not being realized. There are a tremendous amount of things which are currently not being done right in government which need to be addressed first, and then once the government is in order we can address the private sector problems. We need to create a pro-growth environment where all Caymanians can realize real opportunities.”

The Chairman of the George Town Committee of the United Democratic Party, Stefan Baraud, said that Solomon’s name was put forward as a very good candidate by people within the party and George Towners in general. “As a result, we approached Mr Solomon and have recently begun having preliminary discussions regarding the possibility of his candidacy with the UDP,” said Baraud.

UDP chief and Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush said the UDP saw Solomon as a very strong, honest and outspoken individual, who has been a staunch advocate for Caymanians, demanding transparency, accountability, good governance and strong and effective leadership.

“If Mr Solomon accepts, he will bring to the party the characteristics needed to help guarantee a victory in George Town,” said Bush. “We intend to field a strong slate of individuals who represent the very best mix of experience, innovation and a proven track record in their fields of endeavor, who can help us build an even stronger United Democratic Party. I am pleased to say that Mr Solomon and the other persons under consideration for nomination at this time fit all these criteria and I think the Cayman Islands will be proud of them.”

So far the UDP has not named any other potential candidates for the 2009 election, but a newcomer to the political scene, well known and well liked business leader Mike Adam, has been cited as a very likely candidate for George Town, and Mark Scotland has also been rumoured to be in the running for Bodden Town on the UDP ticket. Although former UDP member and Health Minister Gilbert McLean may well run in that district, it is unlikely that he will be tying his colours to the UDP mast.

With more than three months to go before the election campaign gets seriously underway, there may be a significant amount of discussion, jostling for position and various deal making before the full line up for election 2009 is declared.

Solomon has confirmed that he will certainly be running for office. The question is merely whether he will do so alone or with the UDP.  “I am encouraged by the discussions between Mr Bush and myself. There is clearly a mutual respect for each other’s views and a clear understanding of the serious issues that face our people and these islands,” Solomon said.

Although Bush acknowledged past differences, he said they were about issues and not personalities. “If our talks are successful, I would welcome the opportunity to work with Mr Solomon for the benefit of the Cayman Islands,” the UDP leader added.

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Marl Road goes to town on school fight

| 12/12/2008 | 3 Comments

(CNS):  Persistent rumours that a gang fight involving weapons had resulted in serious injuries to students were denied by both government and police on Thursday. The Minister for Education said at the weekly press briefing that, while a fight had taken place at the John Gray High School campus, the seriousness had been grossly exaggerated. Police too confirmed that they had not recovered any weapons when they responded to a call at the school.

Although police did not issue a release about the incident, when CNS contacted the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service a spokesperson said that police officers had attended the school in the afternoon of Wednesday 10 December, but after questioning a number of people they found no evidence that a serious incident had taken place or that weapons had been used.

Police also said that officers did not find any firearms contrary to rumours. They confirmed, however, that there had been a fight between school boys.

“If people are so sure that there is evidence to the contrary then they need to contact George Town Police Station and tell officers what they saw,” a spokesperson said.

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