Archive for January 28th, 2009

Charities Law up for debate

| 28/01/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Following recommendations by the Financial Action Task Force and local considerations regarding better regulation, the Law Reform Commission has been researching the way in which the activities of charitable organisations in the Cayman Islands can be regulated. A draft Discussion Paper and a draft Bill have now been issued for public comment to help shape a law that will prevent the misuse of charities in terrorist or criminal financing but allow genuine local charities to flourish.

The discussion paper proposes to reform the regulation of charities and not-for-profit organisations in Cayman which are established in the islands to provide a benefit and raise money from the general public for specific charitable purposes. At present there are no rules or regulations covering local charities, which have no official status or registration.

According to the commission, private trusts, foundations and associations that are established here and don’t solicit funds will not be affectedby the proposals set out in this paper as the current legislative regime of the Monetary Authority Law (2007 Revision), Companies Management Law (2003 Revision), the Banks and Trust Companies Law (2007 Revision) and the Proceeds of Crime Law (2008) does regulate those entities.

The purpose of this discussion paper is to examine locally based charities operating on island which are currently unregulated under any laws at all. The idea is to establish an official register of charities and a Charities Commission, to create a clear definition of a charity, and to regulate the conduct and fundraising activities of charities.

The commission stated that the a Charities Law would facilitate a clearer and more modern legal framework for charities, which in turn would operate to empower the charitable sector and allow charities to operate with greater freedom and flexibility in responding to changes in society.

“Institutions tend to flourish in any environment which comprisesa strong regulatory framework supported by the independent oversight of a regulator. This in turn inspires a high level of public trust and confidence, all ingredients necessary in attaining the desired successes,” the commission stated in the discussion paper.

The idea of a law to regulate charities in Cayman has been debated since 1994 following the introduction of a private members bill which sought to change the country’s gambling law to allow charities to run raffles and lotteries to raise money. Since then, the issue of charities being vulnerable to criminal financing has also come into play and there is a clear need now to define and protect legitimate charities and also protect the jurisdiction from potential money-laundering through the charity sector.

Both the Discussion Paper and the proposed may be viewed at: www.gov.ky

Submissions should be made no later than 13h March, 2009 and should be posted to the Director, Law Reform Commission, c/o Government Administration Building or delivered by hand to the offices of the Commission on 3rd Floor Anderson Square.

 

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Election’s office reminds candidates to check the law

| 28/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With the election season officially underway the Supervisor of Elections, Kearney Gomez is reminding all potential political candidates seeking to contest seats in the upcoming general elections familiarise themselves with the law. He said prospective politicians should know the rules regarding the qualifications and disqualifications of elected membership before they declare themselves in the race. Gomez said that in particular candidates needed to take note of the rule that requires them to declare any interests they have with regards to government contracts or work at least one month before polling day.

“All prospective candidates should endeavour to acquire copies of the Cayman Islands Constitution and familiarise themselves with the sections 18 and 19 of this document before Nomination Day, which is 25 March 2009,” said Gomez. Copies of the Constitution are available from the Legislative Assembly.

He also stated that currently there are just two political parties, namely the People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) and United Democratic Party (UDP), registered and the Elections Law (2004 Revision) states that any group of people who have united to contest an election is eligible to be registered as a political party, although it is not compulsory.

“It is not a mandatory requirement for a group or team to be registered if they care not to,” Gomez said, but for those groups that would like to be registered as a political party they will need to declare themselves on Form 14, which should be submitted to the supervisor of elections by the president, chairman or secretary of the party.

“The application must be signed by the applicant with the full name of the party, and must be accompanied by a copy of the constitution of the party,” Gomez added.

He explained that he has the right to refuse to register a political party if the name is obscene, consists of more than five words or resembles that of another political party.

Applications to register political parties will not be accepted between Nomination Day and the day on which all writs for a general election have been returned, that is between 25 March and 25 May of this year.

Forms may be collected from the Elections Office or downloaded from the website www.electionsoffice.ky

The electors register remains open for those eligible to vote until the night of 1 February. Electors registered on Cayman Brac are advised that registration cards will be issued from District Administration, Creek Youth Centre and Spot Bay Primary School on Thursday and from West End Post Office, District Administration and Spot Bay Primary School on Friday of this week.

These stations will be open from 9:00 to 5:00 on both days.  All Brac electors are urged to take this opportunity to obtain their cards. Elector registration cards will be issued at intervals up until the first week in May.  Electors on Little Cayman will also be given an opportunity to obtain their cards at a later date to be announced.  Disabled electors wishing to get cards should contact the Elections Office at 949-8047 for arrangements to be made to accommodate them. 

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Seminar looks at IRS rules on fund manager fees

| 28/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The issue of fee deferrals and the way in which hedge fund managers are paid for work provided to hedge funds was the theme of a timely seminar hosted by local firm dms Management and US-based Optcapital, LLC, last week. Some of the significant changes in US legislation, specifically the IRS’ 409A and what it means for Cayman service providers and the risks associated with non-compliance, were examined.

Managing Principals, Jim Christian and Thom Young of Optcapital, LLC, a deferred compensation specialist, joined David Bree, Managing Director of dms, and offered delegates an overview of US deferred compensation plans, details of 409A, and the implications for Cayman service providers.

In their presentation Young and Christian explained that 409A requires strict compliance with highly-technical documentation, proof and timing rules and imposes absolute liability for failures. The IRS’ interpretation of this statute is 400 pages and generally prohibits payment acceleration. The experts also offered insight into the current economic forecast for hedge funds, the risks associated with noncompliance of 409A, and ultimately drew inferences on how these developments will impact the future of Cayman Islands hedge funds.

 “dms Management recognizes the importance of presenting this topic to the Cayman Islands hedge fund community,” said Bree.”With the start of the new year, we wanted to showcase Optcapital’s meaningful insights to enable local service providers to be better equipped to handle these changes and any challenges they may face.”

Started in 1998, Optcapital is a SAS 70 Type II certified third-party provider of turnkey Nonqualified Deferred Compensation services and specializes in the administration of Hedge Fund Deferred Compensation and IRS 409A and 457A Regulations. dms is the largest management firm in the Cayman Islands focused on serving the hedge fund industry. Services include serving as independent directors, advising hedge funds in distressed conditions, structuring and servicing offshore hedge fund business solutions.

 

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Get out and vote rally

| 28/01/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): The “Be Proud. Be Loud” voters’ registration campaign will be holding a rally on Saturday, 31 January, on the steps of the Legislative Assembly Building at 3:45pm in order to encourage, inspire and challenge the people of Cayman, particularly the young people, to come together and show the importance of being a registered voter.

“Come out and see how powerful your presence can be. Only imagine how powerful your voice is by simply registering to vote,” said organiser Luigi Moxam, Executive Designer of the fashion line One 345 Ltd, who is campaigning to get more young people to register to vote in the 2009 general election.

“This will hopefully be a successful testimony and opportunity for us to be an example of how a united voice that undeniably says that we, in particular the youth of our beloved Cayman Islands, are ready to be recognized as the faces and voice of positive change in Cayman,” he said.

Moxam said the youth of Cayman has a unique opportunity to be a part of changing the way politics is viewed, and reminded young potential voters of the value of their contribution to decide who will be elected to make the important decisions on the issues that affect everyone, such as the constitution, economics, education, tourism, health, real estate and immigration.

“We may all agree that change is inevitable. Many will also agree that there has been a certain level of discouragement regarding the fact that the average age of registered voters is 45years. This means we have no voice at the moment. We act surprised andask why?” said Moxam. “Simple answer is no communication or education on how we can contribute in a positive way together. No emphasis on the development of sports, culture and creative art programs, which is undeniably the only true outlet for the youth to express themselves. Yet we are quick to gather and complain, even when we haven’t tried to do anything about it, until now.”

Moxam believes there has been little effort to get the opinions and outlooks of the younger generation in the past on the issues that affect them. “We can’t just hope they will listen to us one day. Today, we can be the change we need for tomorrow by insisting that our collective voice is heard.” Simply registering to vote is the first step, he said.

Moxam encourages young people who are already registered to vote to come out and bring friends to the rally. “We will ensure that not only will we be heard, they will listen to us, by holding them accountable now that they have our attention. We will ensure our voice will be utilized to improve athletic, creative and cultural outlets and opportunities for the many talent within Cayman. We need to stop acting like we don’t care and that we can’t do anything about it when we can.”

There will be an open mic session for the public to express their concerns or to encourage young people to get registered. The elections office will be providing sodas and refreshments. And Moxam said there will be “a very special treat” from a couple of Cayman’s talented young artist.
 

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Senior promotions in the Fire Service

| 28/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Recent high-ranking promotions at the Cayman Islands Fire Service (CIFS) will help with strategic planning and succession planning, according to the Chief Fire Officer. Rosworth McLaughlin is now Deputy Chief Fire Officer – Administration; Doorly McLaughlin is appointed as Deputy Chief Fire Officer – Domestic, and Steve Webster (left) is Deputy Chief Fire Officer – Aerodrome. All three senior fire officers have each served CIFS for some three decades, according to a release.

They likewise began their careers as firemen, moving on through the ranks to become sub-officers, station officers and then divisional officers.

“These promotions will help to bring Fire Services’ strategic planning forward,” said Chief Fire Officer Dennom Bodden. “They will also secure succession planning, and help to enhance teamwork, as well as achieve compliance with all the new regulations within government.”

Rosworth McLaughlin’s new administrative responsibilities will comprise oversight of the CIFS budget of some $M11.5, management of Freedom of Information issues, and all Human Resources-related matters, including staff training. “In this new position I expect to contribute primarily in the area of strategic planning, and to facilitate additional CIFS twenty-first century development by building on the existing foundation,” he said.

To date, major highlights of his career have featured his contributions to the CIFS IT system, particularly the introduction of the computer network; the creation of the CIFS communication section, and management of the replacement of Grand Cayman’s entire fleet of 13 specialized fire vehicles (a US$M6.5 project).

R. McLaughlin has completed technical and managerial training in the US and UK, and he is currently completing a master’s degree in Business Administration through the University of Liverpool. He values discipline, good teamwork and camaraderie between peers, in addition to ongoing technical and managerial development.

For Doorly McLaughlin (left), the range of new responsibilities relates to domestic fire services, enforcement of fire codes and fire investigation activities. He noted that in his new position he will endeavour to see the newer fire codes implemented; extend fire inspections to encompass more commercial buildings; develop written policies and procedures to deal with different fire target hazards; offer his staff managerial skills training and establish a staff succession plan.

Ever optimistic, he said, “I am proud that implementing fire codes has already enhanced fire safety and in this respect, Cayman is one of the best places in Caribbean.” His own career highlights have centred on fire code implementation and developing fire safety systems, and he is encouraged by the developers, architects and builders who recognize their importance. Experienced in investigating local fires, D. McLaughlin has completed Fire College in Trinidad, as well as several additional courses in the US and Canada.

As Deputy Chief Fire Officer – Aerodrome, Steve Webster will be responsible for all aerodrome fire service. He has previously been involved in compiling the Fire Service’s aerodrome operational manual, and is accustomed to selecting the required fire vehicles and ensuring that they are all fully equipped according to standards. As might be expected one of Steve’s priorities in his new position is to see his team fully trained and equipped in all airdrome operations.

Also keen to get CIFS training facilities and trainers upgraded to present UK standards, Webster believes that would encourage others in the Caribbean to regard Cayman as a training centre on par with any in the UK. He highly values timeliness and teamwork and feels that mutual goals are achievable through mutual understanding. In keeping with the other two new appointees, he further believes that when one enters the fire service, one should be motivated by the desire to save lives and properties.

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How Much For Your Vote?

| 28/01/2009 | 15 Comments

As election time approaches it beginning to look a lot like …. Christmas? Given the history of elections in Cayman it seems that we can expect refrigerators, turkeys, hard cash and many other commodities in exchanged for your vote.

Have you ever considered how much your vote is truly worth?

The concept of politicians wanting to buy your vote is fascinating and often accepted by the electorate in this country. Many people will tell you that they see it as the price that political candidates must pay in order to enter the arena of representing the people of Cayman. In other jurisdictions, it’s downright illegal to do so and I’m going to argue that it should be here also. Last year, a 19-year-old University of Minnesota student faced five years in jail and a $10,000 fine for trying to sell his vote. He is accused of putting his vote in the presidential election up for auction on eBay. He started the bidding at $10. The charge is bribery, treating, and soliciting. He was charged under an 1893 Minnesota law that made it a crime to offer to buy or sell a vote. During the prohibition era of the 1920’s the law was used extensively to prosecute people who solved their vote for liquor.

It seems truly amazing that there could be legislation elsewhere that has existed for over 100 years that makes this practice illegal. Even more amazing is the fact that our elections law makes no mention of this. It should come as no surprise then that no politician has ever pushed for this practice to be publically condemned and legislated against. Let me be the first to say that I would support such legislation as quickly as possible. Election expenses are restricted only 6 weeks prior to the election date. However, there’s no such restriction on the number of gifts that are given out in the pre-election rush. Everyone knows that this is the time to ask for that new refrigerator, overseas trip or the much coveted Rolex watch.

Delving into the physiological reasons that we have reached this point might prove to be too exhausting. One contributing factor seems to be that most of us do not appreciate the sacrifices that were made so that we could vote. Not appreciating the value of something makes it very easy to give away for little or nothing. There are people all over this world that have died so that others might have the right to vote in democratic elections. People today would give their limbs and life to participate in what we take for granted. Our history of women’s suffrage may not have been so contentious but it was a brave act nonetheless that defied the accepted practice at that time.

In my opinion, the most compelling reason that voter’s should not sell their vote is that it devalues it to the point where we ultimately have sold our voices as well. Politicians believe that once you have sold your vote your input in the affairs and operations of this country are very limited – “see you again in four years”. Furthermore, because many politicians are burdened with trying to appease voters individually to secure their vote with gifts they are not likely to make decisions that benefit us collectively. In other words, when there are competing interests and the politicians have to consider what’s in the best interest of the people – the value of your vote becomes very important to them. If you have sold and devalued your vote essentially you have given politicians the power to not truly represent your interests but instead to recoup the loss of buying your vote in the first place. It’s a simple formula – you sell your vote to politicians and politicians will sell you down the river when it suits them. The entire electoral process is compromised. If you, as a person, own something that someone else does not value – it would be logical to assume that they DO NOT value the owner of that commodity either.

In these tough economic times it may be tempting to engage is this practice and take something for “free”. Let us all remember that nothing is truly free and the price that we have paid and continue to pay is far too high. Instead, let’s seek out representatives who can work hard for our votes and work hard for us if elected to public office. Let’s vote for representatives who do not have the mindset that you can be bought for the equivalent of a turkey. Let’s vote for representatives who actually respect the voters and want to accomplish goals that benefit us collectively as a country.

My vote is NOT for sale – is yours?

 

Sandra Catron is an independent candidate for Bodden Town in the upcoming elections

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Study finds high-fructose corn syrup contains mercury

| 28/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(Washington Post): Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies. HFCS has replaced sugar as the sweetener in many beverages and foods such as breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. Go to article

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FBI swoops on finance world

| 28/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Independent): Authorities in the US had custody yesterday of two high-profile alleged fraudsters, dubbed "mini-Madoffs", in an intensifying sweep against financial wrongdoing. Arthur Nadel, a 76-year-old Florida fund manager who tried to fake a suicide earlier this month, turned himself in after two weeks on the run, and investigators in New York charged a separate fund manager of defrauding 1,500 investors out of $370m (£261m) in a Ponzi scheme similar to the one run by Bernard Madoff. Go to article

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Teaching teenagers about harassment

| 28/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(New York Times): This month, three teenage girls, students at Greensburg Salem High School in Greensburg, Pa., were charged with disseminating child pornography. They had sent nude pictures of themselves by cellphone to their teenage boyfriends, who were charged with possessing child pornography. The legal consequences in this case may have been unique, but the behavior is not. About 20 percent of teenagers have posted or sent nude cellphone pictures of themselves, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a nonprofit group. Go to article

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Premature obituaries may force new Wikipedia rules

| 28/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Independent): Entries on the internet encyclopedia Wikipedia may have to be pre-approved after it wrongly claimed that Senator Edward Kennedy had died. The user-generated site, in which members of the public are encouraged to provide the entries, is to review the rules governing contributions. It could lead to entries being centrally approved before being published, which would constitute a radical overhaul of the site’s operations.  Go to article

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