Archive for September 3rd, 2009

Cyclist knocked unconscious and robbed

| 03/09/2009 | 6 Comments

(CNS): A man who was cycling home from work last night was attacked and robbed. Police say a member of the public called 911 at around 12:40am (3 September) reporting that he had found a man lying unconscious in the road on Courts Road. Police and medics responded to the scene and the man was taken to hospital. He has since told police that he was cycling home from work when he felt a blow to the back of his head and passed out.

The man has suffered a head injury and remains in hospital in a stable condition. A number of items the man was carrying, including a wallet, had been taken from him.

It is not known at what time the offence took place and officers would like to hear from anyone with information. Anyone who can help should contact George Town CID on 949-4222.

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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Cayman services for sale

| 03/09/2009 | 121 Comments

(CNS): UPDATE – Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush stated this morning (Thursday 3 September) that the government was not only in discussions concerning private funding of the two new high schools and the government administration building, but was also looking for proposals from the private sector in the privatisation of or private-public partnerships for certain public sector services, including the sewage system, prisons, cruise ship facilities, cargo port, the airport, roads, and the Turtle Farm. Bush also did not rule out private financing of Cayman Airways.

“We are advancing our discussions that we have already commenced on ‘private financing initiatives’ in respect of the two new high schools andthe new Government Administration Building,” Bush said. “A successful conclusion to these discussions will, at a minimum, remove the need for government itself to fund future capital outlays to complete these projects and result in government receiving cash back in respect of the amounts it has expended on the projects and payment for the value of the Crown lands on which those projects are located.”

Since the “historic meeting” at Ritz there had been various suggestions of ways to enhance country’s revenue base, including property and income tax. However, Bush said that since the UDP had campaigned on no taxation they had decided that this route would change the uniqueness of this islands economic base and they would not support it. He also said there would be no sales tax – value added tax (VAT) as it is known in the UK.

However, to put the country on a sustainable revenue course, the government was starting the process of privatizing or development of public private partnerships of some government functions. Top of the list was the sewage system, with the rights for purchasing party to expand the system throughout country. He said government would also immediately look at establishment public-private development of roadway and highway infrastructure, cruise port developments, the new cargo port, as well as plans to handle the country’s municipal solid waste.

He said these initiatives could inject over $700 million into the local economy and the long term impact could be triple that and would also lead to significant employment. The private financing initiatives of the schools and administration building would be put in place immediately, Bush said, and both ministers were working to that end.

The LoGB claimed that they would result in government getting approximately $120 to 125 million in cash, while removing its liability to complete the buildings out of cash flow and resulting in a long term lease payable over 15 years.

The government would increase revenue through an aggressive divestment strategy of certain government assets but at same having some ownership through partnership with the private entities and therefore the country would retain acceptable levels of returns and improve our position in terms of international scrutiny. “We do not have the luxury of time,” Bush claimed, saying they must act immediately. He said all these projects could not be funded by government’s recurring revenues

Other projects they were looking at included dredging North Sound to enhance mega yacht capacity. He said that presently there had already been much dredging form Morgan’s Harbour up to airport and there was less than mile left to join various basins together. “It is not good enough to sit back and say it is going to destroy the North Sound, and not true by my thinking,” Bush said. “But let’s get some more science into it and see what they say.”

He said there were a number of entities interested in doing those projects. The government would be seeking to finalise all the necessary processes, including laws and the proper regulations, within the coming weeks so that the developers could start the construction phase of these projects immediately.

“So anyone listening that is interested get your interest into the government because I am going to move ahead with the most viable one that offers this country development and offers this country revenue,” Bush announced.

With regards to development initiatives for the Sister Islands, he said there was an application from Brac Development Company for the development at Dennis Point on Crown land, adjacent to the Alexander Hotel in Cayman Brac for the conversion of the Salt Water Pond into a safe harbour marina and infrastructure to support it. “That proposal I hope to put before Cabinet next week and hope to give the go ahead next week,” he said.

There wasalso a proposal for expansion of Dervyn Scott’s landing facility (West End Cemetery Pier) into a proper dock that could handle the smaller cruise ships and facilities, plus a marina facility. The government supports application in principle, Bush said, but that they were following procedure and taking into consideration possible environmental and other implications the project will present. He said they would work to mitigate those, but that government was supporting the projects. “They will go ahead,” he said.

Asked about Cayman Airways, Bush said that was "a horse of a different colour" but that they would take on the right partner. CAL would need "much more thought" than any other proposals, he said.

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Bank says sell US assets

| 03/09/2009 | 0 Comments

(Bloomberg): Wegelin & Co Switzerland’s oldest bank, is telling wealthy clients to sell their U.S. assets, or switch banks, because of concerns new rules will saddle investors with tax obligations in the world’s biggest economy. U.S. proposals to extend reporting requirements for banks whose clients buy American stocks and bonds coupled with estate tax liabilities that may be inherited by the heirs of people who have such holdings prompted the advice from the St. Gallen, Switzerland-based bank, said Managing Partner Konrad Hummler.

(Bloomberg): Wegelin & Co Switzerland’s oldest bank, is telling wealthy clients to sell their U.S. assets, or switch banks, because of concerns new rules will saddle investors with tax obligations in the world’s biggest economy. U.S. proposals to extend reporting requirements for banks whose clients buy American stocks and bonds coupled with estate tax liabilities that may be inherited by the heirs of people who have such holdings prompted the advice from the St. Gallen, Switzerland-based bank, said Managing Partner Konrad Hummler.

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Witness loses cool in court

| 03/09/2009 | 32 Comments

(CNS): Problems with witnesses mounted for the prosecution during the Lyndon Martin trial on Wednesday, when straight on the heels of one key Crown witness telling the jury the defendant had done nothing wrong, another entered into a confrontation with the defence counsel and stuck his tongue out in the court. Desmond Seales, the publisher of Cayman Net News, denied having a corrupt relationship with RCIPS Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis as suspected by Martin, but his behaviour in the courtroom was called into question by the judge on at least two occasions.

Seales took the stand on Wednesday afternoon, following the declaration by key prosecution witness, John Evans, that he did not believe Martin had done anything wrong and should not be on trial.  Seales remained calm and composed during questioning by the prosecuting attorney, Andrew Radcliffe QC, denying ever receiving leaked information from the Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis or ever implying to anyone he had a relationship with Ennis. He told the court that he had never told anyone that Ennis was a source for news.

However, within minutes of the cross examination by defence attorney, Trevor Burke QC, Seales’ behaviour became volatile and defensive and during the questioning the presiding judge, Roy Anderson, was forced to speak with Seales about the need for respectful behaviour in the courtroom.

When Burke began his examination he asked Seales, if he was ever offered information from a senior police officer whether he would accept it. Seales agreed he would and that he would not see that as a crime. He said, however, that he would not protect that source or any other source that gave him confidential information. Burke queried if informants would ever be safe telling him anything, and Seales confirmed that he would reveal sources as he had done with regard to former tourism minister, Charles Clifford.

When Burke then suggested that Seales would therefore be willing to give up his secrets, Seales became angry towards legal counsel, asking what the lawyer was inferring about secrets and that he should say what he meant. Seales volunteered that John Evans was a liar, and when asked by Burke in what sense, he said “in a truthful sense” as Evans he said had “lied abut the truth".

When pressed to name what lies Evans had told, Seales said, “Name one, name one ..well… that he said there were secret documents in my office and that I had a red box file,” Seales said in an agitated manner. “He is a liar.”

When Burke asked Seales if he had changed a story written by Evans about the helicopter, Seales loudly denied it and insisted that Evans had done it himself. When asked if that was the case, why Evans had then sent an apology to the police Commissioner, Seales declared:  “If he did that well … he had no authority to do that!” Seales also insisted that Evans had never complained about changes to the story and that it was a “downright lie".

Moving on to issues concerning Anthony Ennis, Burke asked Seales if Ennis had threatened legal action against him and his newspaper in 2006 because of an article which Ennis claimed set him in an unfavourable light.  Seales said if he had, he would join the queue and indicated to the court that he was not entirely aware if there was legal action but it was something that happened all the time.

When Burke pressed him several times about how many other senior police officers were taking legal action against him in that year, Seales evaded the question and again became very agitated as he continued trying to avoid answering. Eventually, he said maybe the former commissioner, Stuart Kernohan, had made some threats but he didn’t think so, at which point Seales stuck his tongue out at the lawyer.

Seales’ continued to appear uncomfortable as Burke asked him about his opinion of Ennis and whether he believed he should be the Ccommissioner. Seales refused to offer his opinion and said it was not his place to comment and that as a newspaper editor he was supposed to be impartial. When asked again, Seales said to Burke, “I’m not going to give in to you,” and said he would keep to the tenets of journalism and keep an impartial view.

Moving on to Kernohan, however,  Seales then offered his opinion and said that he had seemed to be doing a good job as commissioner but he began evading the questions again when Burke asked him his position on the helicopter purchase. At this point the presiding judge, Justice Roy Anderson, pointed out to Seales that everyone in the court aimed to be respectful towards each other and directed him to answer the questions to the best of his ability.

Asked about his role in stories in Net News, in particularly regarding the helicopter, Seales gave the impression that he did not decide stories, look at them before publication or necessarily read them at all. He said the news content was down to his editorial management and that he did not have “castrated or impotent writers” at Cayman Net News.

Burke asked Seales if he had read the stories about the helicopter which were critical of Kernohan and if he enquired of the journalists why those stories were running. Seales said that if he had read the story and he was satisfied it was fair then that would be the end of it and things would move to the next story.

When Burke suggested that Ennis was Seales’ source on the helicopter, he again became angry and asked the attorney if he was asking him a question. Once again Justice Anderson explained that the counsel had put a suggestion to him and Seales should agree or disagree.

“”Your suggestion is incorrect,” Seales told the court. When asked if he had called Ennis his boy, Seales said he never uttered the word and when Burke asked if he had boasted to anyone that Ennis was his source, Seales denied that too. Asked if he had told John Evans or Lyndon Martinthat Ennis was his source on a number of occasions, Seales said it was a blatant lie and said Martin was a second liar.

Following the exchange, Burke asked him if he knew Rudolph Dixon, to which Seales replied not very well and said he was unaware that Dixon had fathered a child with a Honduran woman. As Burke began asking Seales about stories in the press related to Dixon, Seales refused to accept from the lawyer that a story had been written by John Evans as there was no by-line. The attorney noted that Evans had accepted authorship of the piece but Seales burst back at the lawyer repeating that there was no by-line and that he would not take the lawyer’s word for it as he could not prove Evans wrote it as there was no-by-line.

Burke finished his cross-examination of Seales by asking him how well he knew convicted murderer Sheldon Brown. He confirmed that they had met in prison when Seales was serving time for what Burke described as “various offences of fraud".

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OECD to implement ‘peer review’ on tax

| 03/09/2009 | 2 Comments

(Dow Jones): Officials at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s global forum on tax information exchange said the two-day meeting that concluded Wednesday made significant progress toward reducing future tax evasion and that a “peer review” process has been agreed. "The campaign for global tax transparency is in full flow," said OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria at a press conference. Representatives of almost 90 jurisdictions – including major powers such as the U.S. and China but also small island tax havens such as the Cayman Islands – attended the forum.

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Tax evasion doesn’t happen in Cayman says Travers

| 03/09/2009 | 14 Comments

(CNS): Chair of the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association, Anthony Travers, has taken to the media circuit again this week promoting the country’s financial services sector. The Chair of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange told Bloomberg Television that tax evasion has been “off the table” in Cayman for more than a decade and that the jurisdiction was not a tax haven. He said the Cayman Islands was always surprised that it was characterized as such considering the treaties the jurisdiction has entered into over the years.

“We are actually somewhat surprised by the characterisation of the Cayman Islands as a tax haven given the record that we have with tax transparency and the treaties we have entered into over the past twenty years,” he said. We had a number of treaties particularly with the United States and 27 treaties under the European Union Savings Directive, none of which were brought into the calculation when the OECD brought out there list.”

He explained that Cayman had now entered into the right kind of treaties according to OECD and was now white listed but that really just re-established the status quo. Travers explained that the Cayman Islands was not a tax haven because it was not dependent on bank secrecy like Liechtenstein, Monaco and Switzerland.  Travers added that Cayman had no reason to be concerned about what was happening to business in those jurisdictions as it did not have the same banking model. Travers noted that increased transparency has always improved business flows into the Cayman Islands.

“The Cayman Islands has always been a tax transparent jurisdiction, it’s not a jurisdiction where people evade tax,” he said. “Tax evasion has been off the table as far as the Cayman Islands is concerned for well over ten years.”

Travers also noted said that the indirect tax regime which Cayman has relied upon for more than 200 years was unlikely to change despite the fact that the islands are facing a short term financial problem which required FCO approval for further borrowing.

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“Lyndon did nothing wrong”

| 03/09/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): On the third day of Lyndon Martin’s trial, John Evans, a key Crown prosecution witness, told the court that he was very surprised that Martin had ended up facing charges as, Evans said, he did not believethat the defendant had done anything wrong, but had, with the best intentions, tried to help by telling the police about his concerns.  Evans told the court that by putting Martin on trial the wrong message was being sent to the whole community about blowing the whistle whenever they saw something that they believed should be exposed.

Even though Evans was called on behalf of the prosecution, when Martin’s defence attorney, Trevor Burke QC, asked Evans if he had ever said that Lyndon Martin had “done nothing wrong”, Evans confirmed that he had. “I was very surprised when I heard Lyndon was on trial as it seemed to me he had done nothing wrong and was acting with the best intentions and in the interests of the Caymanian people,” he said, adding that it sent the wrong message about whistleblowing.

On the witness stand for more than three hours on Wednesday morning, Evans took the jury through his time at Cayman Net News, leading up to the entry into the offices late one evening in September 2007 to search for possible evidence of alleged leaks to his boss, Desmond Seales, from Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis. The former Net News reporter explained that senior police officers had supported the search. Hours before his clandestine foray into the offices, Evans said he had spoken at length with RCIPS Chief Superintendent John Jones.

Evans explained that he had been part of the search because he too believed that information was being supplied to Seales from somewhere in the police service, and although he was not convinced it was Ennis, Seales had certainly said it was. Reflecting on his relationship with Seales, Evans said he was sceptical about any claims he made as, he told the court, “Desmond Seales’ version of the truth changed from hour to hour, day to day, to suit his needs.”

The former reporter said that the “normal rules of journalism” did not seem to apply at Net News and Seales had pressed him to write news stories without allowing him to check and verify the sources beforehand. Evans described Seales as vindictive and volatile and not someone he wanted to be on the wrong side of.

When Burke asked Evans if Seales believed to himself to be “a kingmaker who could bring down governments”, Evans agreed. “Not just governments but the judiciary as well,” Evans told the court.

Explaining why he had gone to Commissioner Stuart Kernohan with his own concerns over Seales regarding the police helicopter, entirely independently of Martin and long before the two of them discussed the matter, he said that Seales had told him directly that Ennis was his source on the information that Kernohan wanted to buy the helicopter simply so he could fly it. Evans said that Seales had made it very clear that the Deputy Commissioner was his source and not Lyndon Martin.

Evans said he expected that Seales would say he was lying as he already had indicated that in the pages of Net News over the last year, but Evans said there was no doubt that Seales had told him on a number of occasions that Ennis was his source regarding disparaging stories about Kernohan and the helicopter.

Evans confirmed that he had been outraged when a positive story he had written about the possible purchase of a helicopter to help police with the fight against drugs had been altered, and as a result he had sent his apologies to Kernohan via police liaison officer Deborah Denis. Evans explained that because a sentence had been added which he did not write, the story had been falsely distorted, and he believedSeales was responsible for adding the offending information to the article.

Evans spoke about how Seales had persistently pushed him to write disparaging stories about Kernohan and the helicopter, which he had refused to do. Evans said he could not find evidence to back up the accusations and had repeatedly told Seales that his source was wrong. However, Seales insisted the information was good because it had come from Ennis and would become extremely agitated when Evans wouldn’t just write the story as Seales said he should.

Speaking about the after hours entry into Net News in September 2007, Evans explained it had happened with the support of both Commissioner Kernohan and Chief Superintendent John Jones and that, although hehad not found anything, he was surprised when he entered Seales’ private office that it was essentially empty. Evans recalled how he had systematically looked through draws, cupboards and shelves, and not only did he not find copies of emails between Seales  and Ennis, he found nothing else at all. “I was surprised the office was so very tidy,” he said. “There was just none of the usual stuff you have in your office desk and shelves – it was empty.”

Burke asked Evans about other issues concerning Seales and in particular about his time in Northward Prison . Evans revealed how Seales had bragged of his connections with Cayman’s criminal fraternity and that  he was almost proud of the fact that he had served time in Northward. “Far from being ashamed,” Evans said, “he wore it like a badge.”

Evans added that Seales would bring unsavoury characters that were known to be criminals into the office and that he had bragged of being in contact with Sheldon Brown, an inmate in Northward prison serving life for murder, who was considered a very violent man. “As far as I am aware,” said Evans, “it was common knowledge that Seales keeps in touch with Sheldon Brown.”

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