Archive for June 19th, 2009

Bush signs more deals

| 19/06/2009 | 11 Comments

(CNS):  The Cayman Islands government has signed a number of supplementary agreements with the Nordic countries at the Norwegian Embassy in Paris today. The Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush confirmed that the agreements were commercial deals to accompany the main bi-lateral agreements which were signed earlier this year in Copenhagen following negotiations by the PPM administration. Former Minister Alden McLaughlin said he was pleased to see the hard work over the last couple of years had paid off.

Signing on behalf of Norway was Mathias Fredici Kristensen, Norway’s Royal Ambassador extended his appreciation to the Cayman Islands Government. "I would like to congratulate the Cayman Islands on the signing of these agreements with the Nordic countries. These will eliminate double taxation on individuals and on international shipping and air transport, and will establish a mutual agreement procedure in transfer pricing cases,” he said.

McLaughlin told CNS that alongside the UK deal which Bush signed on Monday  the PPM adminstraiton had gone a long way with several other agreements including this one.

"The UK agreement was negotiated before I left office and significant progress had been made on four others," he said. "Our hard work over the past couple of years and in particular that of Debbie Drummond and Dr Chris Rose is continuing to pay off," he said.

The signing of this agreement marks the final stage in the process of completing negotiations with the Nordic countries.

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Real People, Real Needs

| 19/06/2009 | 2 Comments

June 20th is World Refugee Day. With this year’s theme of “Real People, Real Needs”, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is drawing attention to the fact that refugees are individuals with real needs, just like you and me.

The HRC registers its support for the message from the UNHCR for World Refugee Day 2009:

“For the 42 million uprooted people around the world, a shortage or lack of the essentials of life – clean water, food, sanitation, shelter, health care and protection from violence and abuse – means that every day can be a struggle just to survive. This year, with the world economic crisis threatening to slash aid budgets and amid enormous global uncertainty, we need to ensure refugees are not forgotten. That’s why the theme for this year’s World Refugee Day on June 20 is ‘Real People, Real Needs.’

“Of the millions of people forcibly displaced by conflict, persecution and natural disasters, every one has a story to tell; they are real people, just like you and me, and they have real needs. But, despite the best efforts of UNHCR and many others, many of these basic needs are far from being met.

“A comprehensive assessment of the needs of refugees and other people cared for by the UN refugee agency revealed that 30 percent were unmet – a third of them in basic and essential services. Improvements in nutrition and water supplies, access to primary health care, strengthened child protection programmes, better protection for women from sexual violence and abuse, and improvements in living conditions and sanitation facilities are just some of the needs that are not being met worldwide.

“This World Refugee Day we ask you to remember the millions of forcibly displaced and stateless people under our care who are struggling with their day-to-day lives. One thing connects them all: basic needs that must be met so they have a chance to rebuild their lives.”

The UN Annual Report on Refugee Trend, launched earlier this week, indicates that 80% of refugees are in the developing world. This places an unbearably large burden on countries to meet the basic needs of these displaced individuals. During the launch, the High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Gutteres, urged the international community to not allow the global economic crisis to adversely affect humanitarian aid, stating that: “The amounts needed to rescue people are less than what is needed to rescue banks.”

The HRC encourages the people of the Cayman Islands to spare a moment for these individuals who find themselves forced from their homes and countries as a result of war, natural disaster or persecution. Real people who live in horrible circumstances, receiving meagre handouts and basic services that are available from countries and organisations like the UNHCR until some day they would be able to get back on their feet, whether at home or elsewhere.

World Refugee Day can be followed through live webcasts on the UNHCR website at Visit the same site for more detailed information on the status of displaced populations across the globe.

For more information on the work of the HRC, please visit the HRC website at

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Taking the kids — to skateboard camp

| 19/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(MSNBC): Amazing. It’s vacation and the teens are awake and ready to roll before 8 am! That’s what happens on those rare occasions when they love the itinerary you’ve planned. Avid skateboarders 12-year-old Max Weinberg, my cousin, and his 13-year-old buddy, Miles Singer, are not only heading to the world’s second-largest skateboard park — Black Pearl in the Cayman Islands — but they’re going to get tips from the pros, including professional skateboarder and champion snowboarder Shaun White, instantly recognizable his long mane of curly red hair.

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Kayaking for literacy in the Solomon Islands

| 19/06/2009 | 6 Comments

(CNS): A Cayman Islands resident and a visitor from Australia have decided to endure intense pain, risk dehydration and sunstroke, and become mentally and physically drained by paddling more than 100km around Grand Cayman in a kayak on the 27 and 28 June in order to raise funds for an adult literacy progamme in the Solomon Islands. Kent Pearce, who works on Grand Cayman for the Butterfield Fulcrum Group, and Simon Davis are members of Australian charity, Pain for Gain, which raises money for worthy causes by competing in extreme sporting events that they are totally unsuited for.

Funds raised through the event will go towards Basic Adult Self Education (BASE), a school on located just outside Honiara, the capital city of the Solomon Islands on the island of Guadalcanal, a 2,510 square mile island with a population of just over 100,000. BASE was started in 1992 by Father Niall (above), an Irish priest who has been in the Solomon Islands since the 60s, and is now assisted by Sister Maureen, a New Zealand nun.

Adult illiteracy is a widespread problem in the Solomon Islands and many adults cannot find paid work because they can’t read and parents can’t teach their children how to read. The concept of BASE is to teach basic reading skills to illiterate adults and young people who can no longer afford to go to school. The belief is that by teaching parents this in turn will increase child literacy. According to Pain for Gain, because of its popularity, the current school is at full capacity and students are being turned away every week, so BASE is now looking to expand and wants to build classrooms so that they can run their course in outlying villages. (Left: entrance to Vatukola Village)

A local village called Vatukola has donated land in which to build a learning facility, and it is the goal of Pain for Gain to raise the funds to build a classroom on this land. The total cost for the project is USD$6,000 and the two men hope to raise sufficient funds from the Paddle around Cayman fundraiser to make this project a success.

“I was in the Solomons in February and saw firsthand the amazing things that the BASE program is achieving,” Davis, the Pain for Gain chair, said. “The current school, which is run by Father Niall and Sister Maureen, fits 25 students a day. However this limited only by the size of the school, not by demand. The new classroom that we are fundraising to build in Vatikola village will fit an estimated 20 extra students as well extending the outreach of the BASE program.” According to Davis, the BASE program has helped thousands of adults , aged 16 and above, since it opened. “I saw a few students in their 50s attending the course and learning to read! It was inspirational,” he said.

Father Niall and Sister Maureen will continue to teach at the original centre, while Canute, a former student, and will be the teacher of the new centre that will be built in Vatukola (right). “Father Niall and Sister Maureen are keen to have the local Solomon Islanders teaching themselves and becoming independent. This is one of the reasons I was so impressed by this project. Once this new classroom
is running successfully they will look at building new classrooms in other villages to address the widespread problem of adult illiteracy.”

Visit for more on the charity, or click the ad on CNS to find out more about the “Paddle around Cayman” fundraiser.

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Swiss make tax deal with US

| 19/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): According to the US Treasury department the American government has negotiated a new income tax deal with Switzerland to provide for increased tax information exchange. The Treasury stated it was part of the Obama Administration’s “aggressive efforts to enforce U.S. tax laws and reduce offshore tax evasion,” and the official signing of the protocol is expected in the next few months.


"This Administration is committed to reducing off shore tax evasion to help ensure that all U.S. taxpayers are playing by the same rules," said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.  "This treaty will increase our ability to enforce our tax laws and will help bring an end to an era of offshore accounts and investments being used for tax evasion."

The protocol would revise the existing U.S.-Switzerland income tax treaty to allow for the exchange of information for income tax purposes to the full extent permitted by Article 26 of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Model Income Tax Convention.  

The Treasury stated that in recent months, the Administration has demonstrated its commitment to closing the tax gap.  “At the G-20 Leaders’ Summit, the U.S. strongly supported efforts to ensure that all countries adhere to international standards for exchange of tax information.  In the FY 2010 Budget, the Administration delivered a detailed reform agenda to reduce the amount of taxes lost through unintended loopholes and the illegal use of hidden accounts by well-off individuals,” the statement read.

The US Treasury Department also recently concluded Gibraltar’s first-ever tax information exchange agreement and signed an agreement with Luxembourg to provide for greater exchange of tax information.

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Shop robbed at gun point

| 19/06/2009 | 15 Comments

(CNS): Police said this morning that detectives in West Bay have begun an investigation into an armed robbery which occurred at G and L Minimart on Watercourse Road, West Bay, last night (Thursday 18 June.) A customer and staff member were forced into a back room by a man they thought was armed with a gun and who’s face was covered with a UDP t-shirt. The robber then made off with the store’s cash register. The offender was described as 5ft 6ins with slim build and a brown complexion.


Police said that the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call from a member of staff at the store at around 8.20pm reporting that she had just been robbed by a man carrying what appeared to be a handgun. Police responded to the scene and found that shortly before the 911 call was made a man entered the store and directed the one staff member and one customer which were present to the back of the room.

He then reportedly asked for the cash register to be opened but before it was he removed it from the counter and left the building with it. Neither victim was injured during the incident. An area search was carried out but the suspect was not located.

The offender is described as 5ft 6ins tall, slim built with a brown complexion. His face was covered with a green UDP T-shirt and he was wearing a black long sleeved shirt, blue ¾ length jeans pants and black ‘crock’ shoes.

Police said they would like to hear from anyone who was in the Watercourse Road area at the time who may have seen the offenderprior to or after the robbery or anyone who recognizes the description of the offender.

Anyone who can help should contact West Bay CID on 949-3999 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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Steel panner wins title

| 19/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Aziza La Pierre has walked away with this year’s title of Young Musician of the Year 2009 for her performance on the Steel Pans. The prize which is presented by Butterfield Bank (Cayman) Limited is tin its second year and was given to La Pierre on Tuesday, 14 June at the Harquail Theatre. As part of the National Children’s Festival of the Arts. The award recognises excellence in music and aims to give competitors a platform to showcase musical talent and encourage further study in the arts.


Eleven students competed for the award during the evening’s performances which also included appearances by the two guest judges’ pianist Glen Inanga and violinist John McLaughlin Williams. The holder of the Young Musician of the Year title for 2008, Saxophonist Michael Testori, also gave a performance to mark the end of his reign.

 Talking about the award Butterfield Deputy Managing Director Mike McWatt said supporting the arts was important to the bank.

 “We feel some of the most meaningful work we do in the community revolves around Cayman’s youth. We are proud of the accomplishments of these young musicians," he said. “Arts and music are an integral part of a young person’s development and we are pleased to support the Young Musician of Year Awards once again this year.”

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CIFAA encourages careers in accounting

| 19/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With the donation of 30 laptops to Cayman Brac High School (CBHS), the Cayman Islands Fund Administrators Association (CIFAA) is not only supporting the development of IT in the school but also hoping to let students know about the career opportunities in accounting. Michel Normandeau of Close Brothers said that all the laptops would have mini plaques acknowledging CIFAA, which they hope will remind young Caymanians about the association and encourage them to consider fund administration as a career goal. (Left: Steven Durksen of DoES (back left), Normandeau and two CBHS students)

CIFAA is a major employer in the Cayman Islands that requires qualified accountants with experience in accounting in audit, Normandeau said, and he encouraged young people studying accounting at university to approach some of the big accounting firms for summer jobs. He also noted that the study of accounting also equips young people to run their own businesses, if they should choose that path.

Normandeau, who handed the laptops and two laptop carts to CBHS Principal Adrian Jones (fifth from left) and Steven Durksen, ICT Manager with the Department of Education Services, told CNS that CIFAA had originally planned to make funds available for a scholarship. However, many scholarships go unclaimed and so they decided to do something that would be beneficial to the schools. Last year they donated 20 laptops to John Grey High School, he said.

“Particularly given the impact of Hurricane Paloma last year, the CIFAA board members recognized that it is important for the youth of our Sister Islands to have comparable opportunities to the young people of Grand Cayman,” he added.

A release from the Education Ministry notes that the use of computer technology plays an integral role in the delivery of the school curriculum and students in every year group are encouraged to complete assignments, work on projects and conduct research using the internet and relevant software.

At the heart of this evolution has been the eagerness and comfort shown by every member of staff at Cayman Brac High School in the use of Information technology. This together with support from the Senior Management of the school and the Information Technology Department has resulted in a constant demand for the limited resources currently available. The donation from CIFAA will therefore greatly assist in increasing the provisioning of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) resources to students and will provide them with the necessary tools to take their education and learning to the next level, the release notes.

“I would like to thank the Cayman Islands Fund Administrators Association for their profound generosity,” Jones said. “These laptops will complement existing ones within the school, and will assist in our quest to ensure all students achieve the criteria established for ‘The Educated Caymanian’ and in particular the objective of being adept at using information and communication technology.”

Education Minister Rolston Anglin, also expressed thanks to CIFAA and noted, “Information technology is arguably one of the largest and most important factors shaping our world today and our students must have accessibility to use these tools so that they may develop and learn on par with their global peers. Colleges, Universities and most jobs today require young school leavers to be proficient in ICT and by our young people must have access at an early age so that they can be ready to embrace the technological world in which we live once they move into the workforce. The variety of technologies that teens can use to support their communication, research, and entertainment desires has expanded tremendously over the last few years and proficiency in these areas are increasingly becoming an essential part of every young person’s personal portfolio. To help in acquiring these skills we need more visionary organisations such as CIFAA to pitch in and help us to help our students and give them the best possible competitive edge when they leave our schools.”

CIFAA is the national association which represents companies that provide fund administration services to over 9,000 funds domiciled in the Cayman Islands. This active professional body is dedicated to the provision of a reliable, first-class service to satisfy specific client needs and provides educational opportunities to Caymanians and residents through scholarships and locally run seminars that focus on the industry and its developments.

Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler, a former principal of CBHS, added, “This is yet another example of the outstanding support this community offers to our schools and young people. I have no doubt that students at Cayman Brac High School will put this generous donation from CIFAA to good use in supporting teaching and learning in the school.”


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Bush vows 12 tax deals

| 19/06/2009 | 19 Comments

(CNS): Speaking to the French media, Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush has said that by September Cayman will have 12 tax exchange agreements in place and should be removed from the post G20 OECD grey list. He told the French daily newspaper, Le Figaro, that Cayman would become "the Singapore of the Caribbean" and the jurisdiction was not afraid of regulation and transparency as it already has stricter controls than Paris and London.

Bush, who is currently travelling in Europe with a government delegation aiming to sign tax deals and visit the OECD headquarters in Paris, said that he had negotiated a double taxation agreement with France which would meet the requirement set by the OECD, but he did not say when that deal would be signed. The French deal has proved to be one of the most elusive of the tax agreements Cayman has been seeking to sign over the last few years.

Bush stated that he would be signing a bilateral treaty in Berlin on Tuesday, 23 June, with Ireland, which would bring the number of Tax Information Exchange Agreements to ten, just two short of the all important OECD dozen. Ireland is already one of the countries with which Cayman signed a deal under the unilateral mechanism introduced last year.  However, the OECD does not appear to have accepted any of the agreements signed under that mechanism as meeting the required standard of exchange.

In his interview with Le Figaro Bush said that the goal now was to sign agreements with all OECD countries and said Cayman was sending a clear message to the international community that tax evaders would not be safe in the Cayman Islands. Bush denied that the mission to sign agreements had anything to do with fear and said Cayman was one of the first jurisdictions to cooperate with the OECD when it signed a tax exchange agreement with the United States in 2001.

Bush explained that the goal now was to remove the label of "tax haven" and said that by cooperating with the OECD he hoped Cayman’s voice would be heard on the international scene on an equal footing. He noted how many other more powerful countries with identical tax practices had not been not stigmatized in the way the Cayman Islands had. He said that Cayman even regulated its fund industry and that the jurisdiction would respect the new rules adopted by the G20. “Our goal is to reassure investors by becoming the Singapore of the Caribbean,” he said.

The leader of government business told the French daily that Cayman had nothing to fear from being transparent and even if those who were evading taxes left the jurisdiction they do not represent the bulk of investors in the Cayman Islands. He explained that investors in Cayman tended to be multinationals, mostly from the USA and also Europe, which benefited from Cayman’s zero -tax system and financial expertise. Bush noted that if the jurisdiction had been dependent on tax evasion and banking secrecy it would have collapsed when the agreement to exchange information with the United States was signed in 2001.

See full article here.

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$1.9m for music downloads

| 19/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNN): A federal jury Thursday found a 32-year-old Minnesota woman guilty of illegally downloading music from the Internet and fined her $80,000 each — a total of $1.9 million — for 24 songs. Jammie Thomas-Rasset’s case was the first such copyright infringement case to go to trial in the United States, her attorney said. Attorney Joe Sibley said that his client was shocked at fine, noting that the price tag on the songs she downloaded was 99 cents. She plans to appeal, he said.


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