Archive for October 14th, 2009

Drug law amendments bring stiffer penalties

| 14/10/2009 | 15 Comments

(CNS): Owing to a need to make clarifications and amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Law (2009 Revision) based on recent rulings by the Privy Council, those tried for drug offences in the Grand Court now face stiffer penalties if convicted. Serious dealing offences for second time offenders tried in Cayman’s higher court will now attract a maximum jail term of 35 years up from 30 years. Solicitor General Cheryl Richards presented the amendments to the Legislative Assembly, clarifying the offences which can be tried in Grand Court or Summary Court and the subsequent penalty increases.

Standing in for the attorney general on Wednesday, Richards explained to the House that the Privy Council had recently ruled that there was a need to clarify which drug offences were considered category C offences and which were B and in turn which of those offences a defendant charged with could elect to take to the Grand Court instead of being heard in Summary Court.

Richards explained that, at present, because of the way offences are listed a drug courier caught and charged would have the right to elect for a Grand Court trial. However, the person who had met that courier and taken possession of the drugs would not have that right and would be tried in the Summary Court and likely face the same potential penalty. She noted that it is unusual for there not to be difference in the maximum sentences that a convicted offender would face when tried in a higher court.

Richards explained therefore that the amendment now lists in the law all possible drug offences, the category, either C or B, and the maximum penalties which offenders will face. In the case of the more sever offences, such as importation or production of hard drugs which previously attracted a maximum sentence of 30 years in either court, those now tried in Grand Court will, upon conviction, attract a maximum sentence of 35 years.

Noting the solicitor general’s clarity of presentation, Anthony Eden, the opposition member for Bodden Town, said he was pleased to see an increase in the penalties.  “I have always said that dealing with the problem of drugs is one of the most important challenges in the community,” he said, adding that he had no pity for those who went to jail for selling drugs to our children.

The amendments were supported on both sides of the house and passed into the law.

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Bush considers 5 year permits

| 14/10/2009 | 147 Comments

(CNS): Employers in the financial services sector may be given the option of gaining five year permits for their staff if government takes on board a recommendation by the Immigration Review Team (IRT). Radio Cayman has reported that the proposal is likely to be backed by government and Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush told the station that the financial services sector had to be considered separately from other industries when it came to work permit issues. “There must be a difference between the construction industry and the financial services industry and the tourism industry,” he said.

Bush noted that in some industries it was easier to find locals than in others, saying, “We have to pay attention; we are simply losing the business and we are going to die. The fallout in the US is one thing; the crisis here is self made.”

At the Cayman Fund Focus conference last week, Bush said that there would be changes to the immigration policy that would make it easier for the financial sector to get the permits they needed but he did not reveal any of the details of changes government is proposing in his presentation. However, he told Radio Cayman that this recommendation by the IRT would be one of the ways to create more jobs for Caymanians as well as improving the treatment of the financial industry.

The LoGB explained that if the firms could recruit the top level professionals they needed for their business more easil, that in turn would lead to the creation of more middle management and support roles for Caymanians. “We will find an improving situation when it comes to the Caymanian labour market,” he said, rather than a decreasing one as a result of the sector being treated badly.  “When the question is asked of me, ‘Can I get my secretary or my fund manger?’ I have to be able to say yes, within bounds of course, but yes. They need a firm answer, so in the immediate term the situation will have to change.”

Bush said that people coming for the high level positions needed to know that they can live, work and continue to be in Cayman.

Rolstin Anglin, the minister with responsibility for labour, told CNS on Wednesday that nothing had yet been confirmed with regards to five year permits or any other changes to immigration policy but government was considering various ways to improve the immigration system and make the jurisdiction more competitive.He said the IRT had not yet completed its work and when decisions were made government would bring the necessary legislation.

Ezzard Miller, an outspoken advocate of restricting immigration polices, said that he would only support a five year work permit policy if it was just for one term. He said he would not support any policy that allowed the permit to be renewed as this would give the holder the right to apply for permanent residency. Miller stated that he supported improving the immigration process from a bureaucratic point of view and ensuring businesses were given the permits they needed in a reasonable time period and making the system more efficient, but only within the realms of the existing law.

“I don’t support the idea of allowing five year permits to be renewed as this would make it even harder for Caymanians coming out of college to get into good jobs in that sector,” Miller said, adding that the possibility of expatriates getting two five year permits would lock Caymanians out of those positions. “I would only support the policy if it was a one-off five year permit which, at the end, the permit holder would leave Cayman and not come back.”

Miller said that he has assumed that the comments made by the LoGB since taking office about improving the immigration situation, given he was the architect of the 2003 Immigration Law, would be with regard to improving the efficiency and not any major changes to the parameters of that law, which he said he would not support.

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Cayman law firm adds to trophy cabinet

| 14/10/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners (STEP)’s “IFC Legal Team of the Year” award has been won by Cayman based law firm Ogier. The award was made in London on Tuesday night at the STEP Private Client Awards ceremony. Ogier was chosen from three other short-listed firms to claim the accolade which the firm said illustrated the strength of its Private Client & Trust team and what it described as its “market leading position.” The awards were judged by a panel of 14 experts, with additional guidance from a support panel that included over 100 industry professionals worldwide. 

Partner and head of Ogier Cayman’s Private Client & Trust practice Giorgio Subiotto expressed the firm’s pleasure at this latest industry accolade.  “It is wonderful for Ogier to receive this recognition from industry peers for excelling in the private client arena, once again demonstrating our market-leading position.  Winning this award is a testament to the commitment and expertise of our international Private Client & Trust team, particularly in such acompetitive field,” he added.  

Ogier’s also noted that the achievement comes on the back of previous award wins from publications such as The Lawyer, Legal Week, Chambers, HFM Week, Hedge Funds Journal, Hedge Funds World, IFLR, Alpha Magazine, Who’s Who Legal and Citiwealth.   

The STEP Private Client Awards highlight excellence among private client solicitors/attorneys, accountants, barrister, bakers, trust managers and financial advisors over the course of 2008/2009. 

 

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Armed robbery outside Treasure Island Condos

| 14/10/2009 | 7 Comments

(CNS): A woman is reportedly unhurt after she was robbed at gunpoint last night, 13 October, in a Treasure Island condominium parking lot on West Bay Road. The woman reported the robbery to police at around 9:00pm saying that she had been approached by a man at gunpoint who told her to hand over her purse. The suspect, who is described as being of slim build, approximately six feet tall, wearing dark clothing with a cloth over his head, then took the purse and fled on West Bay Road.

In more police news, 33-year-old Ernie Ebanks Jr appeared in court yesterday, 13 October, and was charged with four counts of burglary and one count of theft. This was in addition to a burglary charge that was handed down to Ebanks on 29 September following an incident that occurred earlier that month. He was remanded to Northward Prison and will return to court next week.
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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 signs TIEA with France

| 14/10/2009 | 16 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands government has signed its thirteenth Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA), the Ministry of Financial Services announced today (Wednesday 14 October). This latest TIEA was signed with France via an exchange of letters on 5 October 2009. The agreement was considered legally binding following receipt and signature by Eric Woerth, the French Minister for Budget Management, Public Accounts of the Civil Service and State Reform. The agreement was signed on behalf of the Cayman Islands by the Leader of Government Business and Minister for Financial Services, McKeeva Bush.

Bush said in a release from the ministry, “This signing, secured by the Ministry of Financial Services negotiating team signifies the Cayman Islands continued commitment to OECD standards for transparency and exchange of information on tax matters. The Cayman Islands is committed to endorsing OECD standards and we are determined to implement them fully.”

Following a mid-year acceleration to expand its network of signed agreements, the Cayman Islands received international recognition in mid-August when it ascended to the OECD’s “white list” of jurisdictions that have substantially implemented the internationally agreed tax standard. In September, the Cayman Islands was elected a member of the Steering Group of the OECD Global Forum.

Bush added, “We hope that this agreement will act as a catalyst for French companies looking to diversify into new markets. Whilst providing the assurance of mutual cooperation, market access and smooth capital flows, we are hoping it will contribute to growth in international business and to stimulating our local economy.”

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All I know is this…

| 14/10/2009 | 33 Comments

My original Black African a$$ wouldn’t be "Christian" had it not been for murderous, gun-toting, Bible thumping "Christian" White Europeans (not being racist – simply stating historical facts) that came and plucked my forefather from his rightful home on the planet’s most earthly continent.

His captors justified their actions for 400 years and used the Holy Bible to demonstrate how they were in fact blessed in their actions of capturing, enslaving, jam-packing, shipping, chain-ganging, marketing, whipping, raping, lynching, dismembering, slaughtering, quartering, "genociding" etc., etc., etc. complete generations of men, women and children as they built up the "West" and secured the economic position of America and Europe as it stands today.

However, my forefathers were actually given a choice in the matter – adopt Christianity or have your head blown off – so nice of them wasn’t it?

Although, I shouldn’t really take it personal as the same attractive option was presented to many a people; Native Americans, Incas, Arawaks, Caribs, even way over in Asia as well. They were even kind enough to bless the innocent babies and toddlers of the native Central American people before they literally bashed their brains in with their stone-headed wooden clubs – a guarantee of a heavenly ascent of the soul, how sweet!

I am sure someone will regurgitate the same ‘ol tired excuses and justifications of "those were the acts of men – not religion / God" – regardless, these are the actions and legacies that have brought us (everyone) to where we are today.

Tell me, should I now be thankful that my people were made to endure such inhumane cruelty for hundreds of years? Is the fact that I was born and raised "Christian" the positive pay-off for such cruelty and wickedness?

Am I somehow "better off" than my Muslim blood relatives that still exist in the true "mother land"? (Though, the Arabs / North Africans were not exactly fans of K-Y Jelly during their earlier descent into Western Africa either).

What then is the pay-off for those that committed these acts – most notably, within the spiritual context?

Does anyone find it disturbing that the most powerful (and filthy rich by the way) bodies of the Christian faith (Vatican etc.) were granted their prowess and wealth on the blood, sweat and destruction of so many human beings? It has long been proven that these entities were complicit and at times directly responsible for countless atrocities dished out to mankind throughout history.

Honestly, how can these possibly be truly "righteous" organisations? Just a simple question.

I know many folks take great offense when reminded of such truths but this is the reality of how we arrived at our respective, collective socio-economic, "racial" and religious places in this (western) world that we live today.

What makes this whole story even more disturbing is the FACT of how the integral element of "Christianity" (Mary / virgin birth / Christ) was in fact stolen from ancient African (yes, not Greek) legends / religions / artwork / depictions. (Considering that Africa is the cradle of civilisation and mankind it only makes logical sense anyway – honestly, the dismissal of all things African by the hundreds of scholars and experts throughout time is absolutely amazing! Research the facts surrounding the "Venus figurines" and the lies and deception propped up around them. All one can say is wow – are you serious?!)

Had the blue eyed and blonde haired Jesus Christ of the Europeans been properly depicted I truly doubt things would have turned out in the way that they have. This folks is simply the fickle nature of man.

Question: Is everyone reading this fully aware that there is NO WAY that the Christ you pray to could have possibly possessed the "racial" features that he does in our standard illustrations? No my friends, think more – Osama Bin Laden.

At this point some may retort with "Why does that even matter?" Well, again, history comes into the equation. The historical dominance and secured position of Europeans in the western world was built upon the "fact" that they were the people closest to God as they looked just like him. Interesting, as those at the top and truly "in-the-know" knew full well that they were exhibiting a terribly inaccurate misconception, aka, lie. Sadly, this misconceived notion is seared into the psyche of the western world – whether we like to admit it or not … and this still offers many advantages to many people to this very day. Weird how this world works huh?

Most folks in the Cayman Islands do not properly align themselves with historical facts and like to champion fables of, "My great, great, great, great Grandmother was married to a wonderful Scottish man – that’s how I get this surname!" (Sigh).

If people insist on consciously limiting their understanding of the harsh history of the world then yes – the dominance of Christianity in the Western world appears to be a wonderful and enlightening phenomenon.

However, as a teenager I opened books and researched historical facts for myself and in doing so I came to understand what is truly what.

When one ignores the greater ugly truth surrounding the chosen faith of the Cayman Islands and selects the perspective of the "righteous, God-fearing, good, "Christian" Europeans (For real folks?! Those drunken, crazy, treasure chasing, soul-less b*stards?! **Not "Europeans" as a whole – here I am more or less referring to the front-liners of the explorers / "settlers"), then yes, the reality of us being a "Christian country" is a romantic one indeed.

Sadly though, history is history, and what truly baffles me is how one is often "forced" to separate history and "religion" at times of debate on the matter. This to me is quite absurd as our history was in fact justified by and burrowed through upon the back of Christianity / religion.

As you can see much of my offering has been centered on historical, political, "racial", economic and power-seeking factors. What we can also see is that there appears to be a COLOSSAL absence of "righteousness" and or a Christian attitude that brought us to this point.

So … help me out here – someone, anyone …

 

This Viewpoint was submitted as a comment in response to a long conversation about this Telegraph article

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Bridger’s undercover persona flew business class

| 14/10/2009 | 15 Comments

(CNS): According to the latest revelations about the special police investigation team (SPIT) and Operation Tempura, during the covert part of the operation SIO Martin Bridger and his sidekick, Simon Ashwin, posed as businessmen and therefore had to fly business class when travelling to protect their cover at the expense of the Cayman tax payer. In his special report on the lack of financial management of the investigation, Auditor General Dan Duguay reveals that almost CI$1 million was spent on travel alone by SPIT up to June of this year and no one was supervising the amounts claimed.

Duguay said that during the course of his office’s investigation he discovered that SPIT was spending thousands of dollars on business class airline tickets to prevent their cover from being blown but no one had oversight of how much was being spent on travel, an area, he states, where the investigation could have economized.

“We found several decisions or lack of decisions that affected the costs throughout the life of the investigation,” the report states. “The need to fly police officers in more expensive airline seats and the frequency of their travel were not issues dealt with by any administrative officer in government.”

Duguay’s office also found that no attempts were made to assess whether savings could have been made on accommodation that the officers were using. Duguay said there were many opportunities when the officers could have been accommodated more cheaply, as well as where travel costs could have been reined in, but no one was checking. Up until June 2009 Duguay’s office estimated that more than $573,000 was spent on residential accommodation for SPIT and a further ¼ of a million on their offices.

Duguay noted that many of the expenses incurred by the officers were just presented for payment by Bridger himself. “While we found the cheques signed to be properly ‘approved’ by the various departments involved the approvals were based on recommendations for payment to be from the Senior Investigating Officer, a non Cayman Islands Government employee,” the special report states.   

The revelations during the judicial review which found that Justice Alex Henderson had been unlawfully arrested by SPIT, the release of the chief justice’s rulings, the evidence presented during the most recent trials of Lyndon Martin and Rudy Dixon and this latest report from the auditor general have enabled the people of Cayman to put together a picture of how this so-called police corruption allegation unfolded.

During the so-called covert period when Bridger and Ashwin arrived on island in September 2007 the two men were posing as property developers and staying at the Comfort Suites on Seven Mile Beach. 

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Net News offices closed by landlord

| 14/10/2009 | 27 Comments

(CNS): Update 10:45am — Cayman Net News publisher, Desmond Seales, and the paper’s staff are now occupying four suites at the Treasure Island Resort and will be continuing to put out Net News from this new accommodation following the repossession of the Net News offices at Alissta Towers by the property owners, CNS understands. It has been no secret in recent weeks that Net News has faced something of a cash flow crisis. Yesterday, the alleged failure of the proprietor to pay rent at the paper’s offices resulted in the landlord retaking possession of the premises. Staff arrived at work on Tuesday morning to find the locks changed and a notice on the door telling them of the landlord’s action.

 In August Alissta Towers Ltd, the landlord of the property, filed a writ in the Grand Court claiming over $50,000 in unpaid rent, which the landlord said had been presented on 12 bad cheques  issued by Cayman Net News and its sister company MCM consultants.

According to the notice posted on the doors of the newspaper’s offices, staff were given a brief opportunity in the afternoon to collect their personal belongings, at which point, CNS was told, the publisher, Desmond Seales, held a meeting with staff in which he vowed Net News would continue, witnesses reported that Seales removed the computers and other equipment from the premises before driving off in a van.

During the last few months Seales has allegedly struggled to pay staff, pensions, health care payments and permits. A number of employees have resigned or have been dismissed in the last few weeks, including lead reporter Tad Stoner and desk editor Paul Charles.

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Man killed in shooting

| 14/10/2009 | 112 Comments

(CNS): Update 10:28am — Police have confirmed that a multiple shooting has taken place in Newlands and one man is dead and a woman is injured. Police say that at approximately 9:55pm the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a report of gunshots being heard in the vicinity of Windward Road, North Sound Estates, Bodden Town. Police and medics attended the scene and two people were transported to the hospital to be treated for their wounds. A man later died and a woman remains in hospital at this time. Reports to CNS from residents in the area say multiple shots were fired and as many as three assailants were involved.

It has also been suggested that the shooting could be connected to the death of Carlo Webster in the Next Level night club on 10 September. Although three men were arrested in connection with his murder, they have all since been released. There were said to be around 150 witnesses in the club that night but police say no one has been able to confirm the identity of the shooter.

Anyone with information about the shooting can pass it on to police in a number of ways; people can speak with an officer they know and trust, they can reach George Town detectives on 949-4222, they can leave information on an anonymous voicemail service by calling 949-7777 or they can call 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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Primary kids behaving badly

| 14/10/2009 | 51 Comments

(CNS): Teachers working in government primary schools are facing growing numbers of very young children with behavioural problems, the minster for education has said. Rolston Anglin lamented the fact that children as young as five were presenting with serious behaviour issues when they entered the government system and this had led to the introduction of behavioural units in some primary schools. The minister said that while there were a number of causes the outsourcing of the reception class was a major contributor.

Speaking at Finance Committee on Monday 14 October, Anglin said that government must look at bringing the reception class back within the education system to address the increasing behavioural problems which, when beginning so early, would have a long term impact on their education. “The quicker we get children into structured learning the better the results will be,” Anglin added.

Government outsourced the reception class into the private sector several years ago to reduce the pressure on the primary school system and student numbers. However, the minister explained that the numbers of primary school students were still increasing and West Bay Primary now had more than 500 pupils, despite the removal of that first year. He said there was no doubt that Cayman faced a serious problem of physical space in schools.

He said government was faced with the combined problem of a lack of space and operating costs but it would have to take this issue on. In the interim, the minister noted, standards in the private pre-school system had to be improved.

Anglin noted that while parenting played a part in the problems some of the troubled children had, it was essentially that the education system also did something to address the issue, and he indicated that his ministry would be working more closely with the Community Services Ministry to address young people at risk. He said the problem was not unique to Cayman but around the world countries were struggling with increasing and deeper behavioural problems with younger and younger children. He said that until the roots of the problems were tackled, the worrying trend would continue.

The minister stated that the numbers of children and the severity of their behavioural problems were getting worse. He said as the economy improved his ministry would focus on a capital programme for primary schools to increase capacity and reduce numbers in schools, but the most important thing in the meantime was to have quality teaching staff. “We need the best possible teachers in every classroom," Anglin said. “One weak teacher can make or break twenty children.”

The former education minister, Alden McLaughlin, noted that while he and the new minister may forever disagree about whether or not his plans for the new high schools were grandiose or not, he was glad Anglin had recognised the serious problem of space in the school system.

He said that he too had looked at re-introducing the reception class back into the government system because standards in the private sector varied so widely from excellent early learning provision to nothing better than care giving.

But McLaughlin said that, aside from the problem of finding the space in government schools, he said he also came up against serious opposition from an entire industry that had grown up around providing the early learning education that had been outsourced by a previous government.

“It doesn’t matter which government did it but it goes to show what policy decisions can do,” he said, adding that wherever it was that children went to school they needed to get an adequate foundation in the early years.

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