Archive for January 13th, 2009

UK economy downturn ‘frightening’

| 13/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): Business leaders have painted a bleak picture of the UK economy, with a survey suggesting a "frightening deterioration" towards the end of 2008. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said its survey results were "awful" and the worst since it began in 1989. Elsewhere, a separate report suggested it had been the worst December for UK retail sales in at least 14 years. On 23 January, official figures are set to confirm the UK is in recession with six months of negative growth. Go to article

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Why we procrastinate and how to stop

| 13/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(ScienceDaily): Procrastination is a curse, and a costly one. Putting things off leads not only to lost productivity but also to all sorts of hand wringing and regrets and damaged self-esteem. For all these reasons, psychologists would love to figure out what’s going on in the mind that makes it so hard to actually do what we set out to do. Are we programmed for postponement and delay? Led by Sean McCrea of the University of Konstanz in Germany, an international team of psychologists wanted to see if there might be a link between how we think of a task and our tendency to postpone it. Go to article

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George the giant lobster liberated

| 13/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNN): A giant lobster named George escaped a dinner-table fate and was released Saturday into the Atlantic Ocean after a New York seafood restaurant granted him his freedom, according to a statement fromthe People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The lobster, which PETA said was 140 years old and weighed 20 pounds, had been confined to a tank at City Crab and Seafood restaurant in Manhattan when two customers alerted the animal group. Go to article

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Legal aid still in crisis

| 13/01/2009 | 3 Comments

(CNS): Chief Justice Anthony Smellie has voiced his concerns regarding  funding of the legal aid system, stating that halfway through the current fiscal year (2008–2009) the budget allocation for legal aid has already been spent. “We now face the same crisis we faced last year with our hard-working and dedicated criminal defence bar being owed fees which they can ill-afford to have outstanding,”

Speaking at the official opening of the Grand Court last Wednesday, 7 January, the country’s most senior legal figure explained that, as has been the case for several years now, the legal aid budget is falling far short and having lawyers going unpaid will eventually see members of the legal professions reluctant to take up legal aid work.

“That sort of treatment will – it should go without saying – only  result in these lawyers no longer being willing to undertake legal-aid funded work and so, ultimately, to the detriment of members of the Cayman public who must depend on them for the protection and enforcement of their rights,” Smellie added.

“Emergency funding will therefore have to be found again this year, to bridge the gap until the further submissions are dealt with by Cabinet and Finance Committee.”

Smellie noted that the Law Reform Commission has, after a very exhaustive survey, produced a report stating that the legal aid system does indeed represent good value for money.

“I trust that the Finance Committee will be more sanguine about its acceptance of the budgetary submissions,” the chief justice added.

He said that the long awaited Law Reform Commission’s recommendations for enhancement of the system should be immediately legislated and implemented.

There are still three days remaining for the public to comment on the report, and James Bergstrom, President of the Cayman Bar Association, also noted in his presentation at the opening of the Grand Court that legal aid is an issue for society as a whole and not just the responsibility of the profession and public participation and discussion was welcome.

“We also agree with the commission that the existing system has produced ‘good value for money’.  Improvements to the existing system rather than a complete overhaul should be preferred and is the only way forward that allows us to predict the cost with any certainty,” Bergstrom added.

The subject of the country’s legal aid system has long been controversial and increasing the budget is rarely a vote winner. However, an efficient and well-funded legal aid system is central to the concept of justice in a democracy.

A commission was established in Cayman earlier this year to assess the situation regarding the current legal aid system and it has made eight recommendations, including the appointment of a legal aid administrator (public defender) whose role would be to help improve the current system’s efficiency as well as the concept of mean’s testing.

The report also suggested widening the list of offences for which defendants can apply for legal aid. Concluding that the legal aid system in Cayman does give value for money, the commission suggested that a more open, transparent and efficient system that more clearly demonstrated how the money was spent was a more achievable goal than actually reducing spending. 

The commission stopped short of mandating pro bono work among Cayman’s legal profession but recommends that an effective campaign be undertaken to encourage more local lawyers to do this type of work for free.


Go to to see the full Legal Aid Report.

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Cayman Bar calls for action

| 13/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Describing the Cayman Islands as outmatched in terms of its bargaining position regarding the attacks the country faces from onshore jurisdictions, James Bergstrom of the CaymanBar Association has said Cayman needs to be proactive in addressing the major initiatives through new legislation. 

"In the wake of the global financial crisis, ‘tax havens” and their bank secrecy laws and purported lack of transparency are again under attack,” Bergstrom said at the recent opening of the Grand Court. He said that at the heart of the forthcoming UK review of financial systems in its territories, the OECD’s “greenlist” of compliant jurisdictions and the “Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act”, co-sponsored by US President-elect Barack Obama, is the issue of exchange of information on tax matters. “Cayman must be proactive,” he said. “If we are, a substantial part of the basis for the attacks disappears.”

Bergstrom explained that Cayman needs to continue negotiations for bi-lateral tax information exchange agreements with all the jurisdictions that Cayman has significant business relations. He added that the recent changes to the Tax Information Exchange Law was a step in the right direction but Cayman should repeal the Confidential Relationships (Preservation) Law and replace it with legislation consistent with the previous common law and data protection regulations, more akin to the data protection legislation in the US and UK.

Bergstrom also said Cayman needed to push the results of the US Government Accountability Office’s report which recognised the Cayman Islands as a co-operative offshore jurisdiction that is willing to adopt international standards on cross-border exchange of information and is not a “secrecy jurisdiction” which assists US citizens in evading taxes.

“Cayman needs to build on this recognition and to differentiate itself from other offshore financial centres that might be characterised in this way,” Bergstrom said.

He explained that over the past three years, Cayman’s competitor offshore financial centres have significantly overhauled their laws and lightened their regulatory framework to attract more business. 

“Their primary target has been and remains Cayman and they are making ground,” he warned.”Our main competitors have ensured that there are commercial courts in place with internationally recognised judges with expertise in the particular types of financial products established in offshore financial centres.”

He said that the log jam on commercial and financial services legislation in Cayman must end and the draft bills submitted by the private sector sitting on shelves need to be acted upon. He acknowledged some recent progress but said it was not sufficient.

“The Attorney General and the government need to agree a fast track approach for critical bills and suggestions received from the private sector,” he added. “Both the Caymanian Bar Association and the Cayman Islands Law Society support this initiative and stand ready to support the attorney general and the government.”

He also said it was important that the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority’s regulatory oversight is sufficient to satisfy international standards but at the same time light enough to continue to attract business. 

“The government and the Monetary Authority should mount a sustained campaign with onshore regulators at least to open communication and at best obtain some favourable recognition,” Bergstrom noted.

He hoped the plans for the establishment of a commercial court which would have the duel effect of catching up with our competitors as well as alleviating the burden of cases on the main Grand Court would become a reality this year.

Bergstrom also joined the calls for an elected minister of finance. “The government must recognise the level of contribution of the financial industry to the economy of these Islands, which now significantly exceeds the contribution from tourism, and commit the necessary resources to sustain and grow the industry.  The first step in this process is to have an elected minister with the financial services industry as his or her primary portfolio,” he added.



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Governor opens new cop training unit

| 13/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The new Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Training and Development Unit has officially opened, giving officers and staff with the RCIPS a dedicated, fit for purpose centre to train new recruits and special constables and continue to develop the professional skills of existing staff. The unit was opened on Monday morning, 12 January, by the Governor, Stuart Jack. 

The 3,375 square foot unit, which is located in Governor’s Square, is equipped with a 16 machine computer room, study area and associated offices. “In the past, we have paid for the use of other facilities for training purposes,” said Head of Training, Inspector Anthony White. “This new suite gives us the opportunity to utilize our own classroom facilities in a bespoke designed training environment. It also carries the advantage of allowing us to deliver training on demand. Current staff, new staff and Special Constables will all benefit from this new facility.”

The training department, which is made up of one inspector, one sergeant, one constable and one administrative assistant, will permanently reside in the new building, along with staff working on the new Security Licensing Law.

The Training Department has been without its own facilities since Hurricane Ivan. The resource will also be made available for use by other government agencies and departments.

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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Offshore Alert to feature US tax investigators

| 13/01/2009 | 0 Comments

CNS): Three senior representatives of the United States Internal Revenue Service will present a session on the tax agency’s various offshore initiatives at the forthcoming Offshore Alert conference. Daniel Reeves, John C. McDougal and Thomas J. Kelly will reveal some of the IRS’ civil and criminal enforcement activities designed to identify US taxpayers who illegally avoid taxes through offshore financial centres.

Daniel Revees has been the lead investigator of the IRS’ Offshore Credit Card Project and other offshore compliance initiatives for the past seven years. John C. McDougal, a Special Trial Attorney for the IRS has served as counsel to the agency’s offshore initiatives for the last nine years and Thomas J. Kelly, Director, Financial Crimes for the IRS, is based at its headquarters in Washington, DC. During their session, Reeves, McDougal and Kelly will discuss IRS enforcement programmes aimed at US taxpayers who illegally avoid or evade payment of required US taxes through the use of offshore bank accounts, entities, structures, investments and other financial arrangements in foreign locations, and to bring them back into compliance.

The experts will be talking about the Offshore Credit Card Project; Current initiatives using the John Doe Summons Process; The Promoter Investigations Program and the Voluntary Disclosure Practice.

The three men form part of a comprehensive line-up of experts related to the offshore world at the 7th Annual OffshoreAlert Financial DueDiligence Conference  which will be held at the Eden Roc Resort & Spa, in Miami Beach, Florida, 26-28 April.

David Marchant, the publisher of Offshore Alert, said that other highlights for the 2009 conference include an examination of the Bernard Madoff affair, where attendees will learn how to identify Ponzi schemes so that they may be avoided, and a Public Relations Spotlight, in which Robert Dilenschneider will show attendees how to effectively market their message to an international audience

Presenters include Jeffrey Owens, Director of the OECD’s Center for Tax Policy and Administration; Bob Roach, Counsel and Chief Investigator on US Senator Carl Levin’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations; Edward Robbins, Jr., who defended billionaire UBS client Igor Olenicoff in a criminal tax case that led to the indictments of Bradley Birkenfeld, a former private banker at UBS, and Raoul Weil, Chairman and CEO of Global Wealth Management & Business Banking at UBS.

The OffshoreAlert Conference will focus on fraud detection and prevention, anti-money laundering, financial compliance, asset recovery, intelligence-gathering, and general risk management, all with an emphasis on international business transactions, particularly those conducted in and through offshore financial centres.

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