Archive for November 17th, 2009

Ogier to come of age at Camana Bay

| 17/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Local offshore law firm and fiduciary services provider Ogier will be celebrating its 18th birthday on Wednesday 18 November as well as formally announcing the move to its new home at Camana Bay. Despite the challenging economic times, Ogier said it has experienced significant growth in a number of the firm’s teams, especially its Litigation and Restructuring & Insolvency team under the leadership of Chris Russell and Ogier Fiduciary Services (Cayman) Limited under Balan Murugesu.  

“The face of Ogier has changed over the years,” said law firm managing partner James Bergstrom.  “We are a firm offering integrated legal and fiduciary services and have significant and increasing strength across our core practice areas of banking and finance, investment funds, litigation, and private client and trusts.” 

This invitation only cocktail reception will be held on the dock-side of 89 Nexus Way starting at 5:30 pm and will feature brief remarks by dignitaries and local entertainment.

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CFATF meets in Cayman to discuss policy

| 17/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Representatives from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) are visiting the Cayman Islands this week, but not on this occasion to put the jurisdiction’s regulations and standards under the spotlight. This time the government is hosting a three-day joint typologies meeting featuring policy makers and experts from the two groups, where the challenges facing the organisations will be discussed with local financial experts. McKeeva Bush, the premier and finance minister, said it was a significant event for Cayman.

“As CFATFco-chair, the Cayman Islands is delighted to host this event,” Bush said. “In the financial industry, the CFATF/FATF guidelines are considered one of the most recognised set of regulatory standards, and this meeting is a testament of CFATF’s commitment to keep abreast of the latest trends and challenges in the fight against financial crime.”

The three-day event will start on Wednesday, 18 November, and will take place at the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman Resort. The meetings will consist of a series of workshops and roundtables, where delegates will discuss challenges facing the organisation in the areas of money laundering and terrorist financing. Critical topics include trends and indicators, policy and global threat assessment (financial crisis), as well as operational issues.

As a founding member of the CFATF, Cayman will be represented by government’s financial sector, including the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, Financial Reporting Authority, Portfolio of Legal Affairs and the Attorney General’s Office.

The premier, who is expected to return from his overseas trip promoting the Cayman Islands financial services this evening, will be giving the opening remarks at the start of the meeting on Wednesday morning.

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UK falls in corruption league table to an all-time low

| 17/11/2009 | 14 Comments

(Daily Telegraph): The annual “corruption index” from Transparency International – which has been published since 1995 – found that Britain had slipped to 17th out of 180 countries. The UK is now more corrupt than countries like Japan, Hong Kong, Luxembourg and Austria. Transparency International gave the UK a Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) score of 7.7. Before 2008, the UK’s score had never slipped below 8.  The non-governmental organisation, which is based in Berlin, blamed the poor showing on a collapse in confidence in politicians triggered by revelations about MPs’ expenses.

NB: The listing does not include overseas territories

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‘CIG can’t afford schools’ TJI

| 17/11/2009 | 21 Comments

(CNS): The general contractor of the two high school projects has hit out at the previous government, saying the schools were part of a spending spree that was ill-conceived, poorly executed, over-indulgent, and insufficiently funded. Tom Jones International Ltd (TJI) said government has never had the resources to build the schools and what resources it did have, it managed poorly. Following his second work stoppage last week, the contractor said he has walked off the job because the new government has offered no evidence that it can afford to complete the projects.

In a long statement TJI has said it regretted suspending work at the John Gray and Clifton Hunter sites, but despite efforts over the last six weeks to resolve the issues surrounding outstanding payments, no solution has been forthcoming.

“At the heart of the issue is government’s ability — or lack thereof — to pay for the work,” TJI said in the statement.  “While the government has continually stated that it has budgeted funds to complete the projects, a line item in a budget, in practical financial terms, means nothing.”

TJI said that the government’s recent record of budget projections had been wildly inaccurate, and therefore the contractor was exercising its rights under the contract to ask government to provide a trust or a payment bond to demonstrate it has the financial wherewithal to complete the schools. “Government has steadfastly refused to provide such assurances,” the contractor stated.

Although the education minister said last week that the two sides were heading towards an agreement regarding future payment advances, before the stoppage, TJI said there was never an agreement in principle to the latest proposed funding arrangement.

“Verbal discussions touched on an agreement for the advance payments, which would have been acceptable to TJI, but the government then drafted an agreement that sought to change the terms of the original contract. These changes would have forced TJI to relinquish many of its contractual rights in order to obtain the payment from the government that was already due.”

Contrary to Education Minister Rolston Anglin’s comments last week that the contractor was attempting to hold the country to ransom, TJI said it was the cheque it was due that was being “held hostage” and the “ransom” was a "surrender of rights already agreed to by government in the original contract it signed.”

In the statement, the contractor said that to date the Ministry of Education had made more than 85 significant changes to the original plans, and claimed  they increased the costs byCI$17 million.

“The ministry never budgeted any funds for these changes or any other contingencies including the furniture and fixtures,” the statement said. “TJI bid on one project and is being asked to build quite another, one that is far more costly.”

The contractor also lamented the lack of a project manager throughout the development of the schools. The previous administration’s manager left before the “first shovelful of dirt was scooped from the earth", TJI stated. “The consequence of this has been catastrophic both to the government treasury and the projects.”

The firm went on to say that TJI spent dozens of hours negotiating, explaining, and trying to educate the Education Ministry (notably former Minister Alden McLaughlin, Chief Officer Angela Martins, and advisor Vaughn Carter) on the timeline and cost consequences of their decisions.

“More than 12 months since construction first began on the two sites, government finally appointed another project manager, David Benoit, to oversee the construction,” TJI added, saying it looked forward to working with him and completing these projects under the explicit terms of its contract with government.

Despite persistent rumours that TJI has been seeking to leave the job and that government in turn is seeking for the contractor to be changed, the firm said it very much wanted to finish the project. “TJI has the ability, expertise, and experience to finish these projects at a price that is tens of millions of dollars lower than the other on-island contractors,” the statement said. “The Tom Jones Group of Companies has been in business for more than 100 years and has completed every job it has ever worked on. Except in the current circumstances in the Cayman Islands, it has never ‘walked off’ a worksite.”

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UBS suspects clients of fraud

| 17/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(Reuters) Most of the thousands of rich people whose UBS bank accounts are to be handed over to U.S. authorities are suspected of serious fraud rather than simple tax evasion, Swiss authorities revealed on Tuesday. The account details of about 4,450 people are due to be handed over to settle a bitter row over bank secrecy under a deal struck with the United States in August. The saga has dented Switzerland’s reputation as a center of banking discretion and threatened at one point to bring UBS to its knees. The Swiss Justice Department said around 4,200 of the accounts are to be handed over on the grounds of "advanced and serious fraud."


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British territories told to lose their faith

| 17/11/2009 | 0 Comments

( The constitution of St. Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha islands states that the British territory wishes to respect "Christian and family values." And the constitution of the Cayman Islands declares that it is a "God-fearing country based on traditional Christian values," where "religion finds its expression in moral living and social justice." Given the Cayman’s reputation as an off-shore financial center, that last part might raise a few eyebrows. But what really bothers the British Foreign Office isn’t any possible inconsistency—it’s mentioning Christianity at all.

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Dog-walker finds ganja haul

| 17/11/2009 | 15 Comments

(CNS): A man out walking his dog discovered a suspicious package, which has turned out to be 50lbs of ganja with a potential retail street value of about $225,000. Police say the drugs were found by the man more than two weeks ago in the Salt Creek area of West Bay in some bushes. Police say that on Wednesday, 4 November, they were alerted to the scene when the private citizen made the report.

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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Walkers cuts Cayman jobs

| 17/11/2009 | 35 Comments

(CNS): One of the Cayman Islands’ largest offshore legal firms has confirmed that it has made a number of redundancies, including staff from the Cayman office. Walkers told CNS on Tuesday morning that, as a result of the global economic crisis, it has been forced to restructure the organisation, which has led to some job losses in all offices except for Singapore. “This economic crisis has severely affected a number of our clients, which, coupled with the targeting of offshore financial centres from the OECD and G20 countries, has resulted in a need to restructure the group as a whole,” the firm said.

Although Walkers would not confirm the exact number of job losses, CNS understands that around ten positions have been lost in Cayman. The firm did say that jobs have gone across a broad spectrum of departments and positions, and in Cayman the losses included work permit holders and Caymanians.

Walkers said that, with the exception of Singapore, all of the group’s offices were involved in the restructuring process, which involved Walkers re-examining the situation to enable it to address the impact of the economic crisis in general.  The firm said that it hoped there would be no further retrenchments required but that was dependent on what happens globally as well as locally and the kind of initiatives which emerge in offshore financial centres.

Walkers has seven offices in total, from London to Singapore — the most recent office to open —  including the Cayman Islands office, which opened in 1964 when the firm was founded in this jurisdiction by William Walker. The firm has just completed a new iconic office building that will house the Cayman Islands team on Elgin Avenue. According to the website, the firm employs around 500 people across its seven locations.

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Cops to talk gangs with West Bay community

| 17/11/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): While the Royal Cayman Islands Police Services leadership has long been reluctant to admit that the Cayman Islands has a problem with gangs, West Bay Area Commander Chief Inspector Howell is placing the subject front and centre in the district and is organising a special seminar for the community to discuss the issue. The presentation will be hosted by RCIPS officers who have received certified training on this subject on Thursday, 3 December, at the John A. Cumber Primary School in West Bay at 6:30pm.

The event will provide information to parents, guardians and teachers alike to help determine if a young person is at risk of becoming associated with or is involved in gang activity.

“I urge everyone in the community to come to this event and get invaluable knowledge on this topic, especially parents and our young people,” said Howell. She explained that the seminar will touch on the subjects of – what constitutes a ‘gang’, why people join gangs and signs of association, amongst other topics. The expert officers hosting the seminar will also be available to answer questions.

Recently the police commissioner David Baines acknowledged that there was an issue on the islands with gang rivalries and he suggested that the recent murders were as a result of tit for tat killings between gang members over a girl. Although he has said that these gangs are involved in the trafficking of drugs and guns the violence has much to do with perceptions of respect and local geographical affiliation than it does organised gang crime.

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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Jamaica’s cruise industry sweeps world travel awards

| 17/11/2009 | 24 Comments

(Jamaica Observer): For the fourth consecutive year, Jamaica has been named the World’s Leading Cruise Destination in the World Travel Awards. Jamaica also copped its fifth win as the Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Destination and Ocho Rios was named the Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Port. The awards, described by the Wall Street Journal as the ‘Oscars’ of the global travel and tourism industry, are decided by votes cast by travel professionals from 183,000 companies and tourism organisations in over 160 countries. According to the organisers, research has shown that winning a World Travel Award increases international brand recognition, building consumer loyalty.

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