Newspaper boss faces further turmoil

| 01/12/2009

(CNS): Since the widely publicised eviction from the offices at Alissta Towers, Cayman Net News has faced increasing financial difficulties as reports mount of staff not being paid and obligations under the Employment Law not being met by the proprietor, Desmond Seales. Police were reportedly called to the premises in the Mirco Centre, where Net News is operating from, on Monday morning to deal with an altercation. According to sourcesinside the paper, the incident related to a dispute between Seales and staff who were demanding to be paid.

Following his court appearance concerning a former debt on Friday morning, Seales reportedly faced an ultimatum from some of his staff, who wrote a collective letter asking their boss to make good on outstanding salaries or they would ‘down tools’. Following the failure of Seales to pay up on all the money he owes, the staff left and returned on Monday to collect their possessions. Reports suggest, however, that Seales had attempted to bar their entry and called the police.

It is understood that Seales not only owes current staff but a number of former employees have also told CNS that they are owed salary payments. Despite a number of complaints made to the Department of Employment Relations and allegations that Seales has also failed to pay all his obligations concerning pensions, health insurance and work permit fees, the DER has reportedly taken no formal action against the paper, which is still available on-line and in limited circulation on the island.

The paper’s former landlord filed a writ in the Grand Court claiming over $50,000 in unpaid rent, which he said had been presented on 12 bad cheques issued by Cayman Net News and its sister company MCM consultants. However, Alissta Towers, the plaintiff, was reportedly never paid and evicted the newspaper in mid-October. At that time Seales was reportedly allowed to retrieve the company’s possessions and departed to rooms at Treasure Island. A week later the paper re-emerged at the Mirco Centre in new offices. CNS understands that Alissta Towers has still nor been paid the outstanding debt and there are a number of other creditors awaiting payment.

Nevertheless, Seales has remained determined to continue with the operation and has vowed that Net News would continue, despite being hit badly, he has claimed, by the recession.

No stranger to controversy, Seales has said on a number of occasions that the landlord’s actions against him at Alisstta Towers were politically motivated. Seales has also been at the centre of a number of major incidents in the last few years, starting with the Clifford Enquiry when Seales committed the cardinal  sin of journalists in 2007 of giving up a source to the authorities.

Following that, Seales was also at the centre of the Special Police Investigation and was accused of being in a corrupt relationship with Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis and later of publishing a series of letters condemning the local judiciary — letters with false names as authors that Justice Priya Levers was accused of writing but which during a tribunal appeared to have been written in house.

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  1. Anonymous says:


    Well, well well. When is this crook going to give it up? If you cannot afford to run a business proper and ethically, just SHUT IT DOWN. What I’m curious to know is why the Department of Employment Relations, Labour Office, Immigration, or whoever continues to let this man abuse his staff? OH I forgot, it was the head of Labour, Mr. Tibbets that suggested that Caymanians just ‘bite their tongue and stick with their work’! Well guess what the poor Caymanians that have endured as long as they could have been outspoken by the foreigners that refuse to be treated like animals. I don’t blame you all. Drop your tools yes! In these hard times, we can’t afford to work for charity, especially when there’s no health insurance benefits to look forward to not to mention pension. If my assumptions are correct and these were foreigners, what are their plans if they are out of work? I hope that they will be made to return home because there are MORE than enough Caymanians here jobless. I’m sorry but if these ‘protectionist’ departments are doing there duty… there is a lot of room for improvement.
    I hope that all of those who believed that the Allista Towers boot was political can now see the light. People will only put up with crap for so long. I have nothing against Net News, but I know of persons who were mistreated and forced to leave the company and all I have to say is… he went to jail once…
  2. Karl Marx says:

    This guy has been doing this to his employees for decades. Why has he been allowed to do it year after year? It’s crazy.

    People who come from here from other countries don’t know about his reputation and once they are here they are easily exploited because of the confining nature of work permits.

    People in authority here should be protecting innocent people from being used and ripped off like this. Why have they failed for so many years? Somebody in government should be in trouble for this decades-old behavior they ignored.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As John and others said, this has nothing to do with muzzling the press. It has everything to do with shutting down a corrupt business man who rides the back of his poor labor force to justify his own existence. After working for Net News for a year I saw and heard a lot of horrible things in that office. My female coworkers would constantly come out of his office crying after being verbally abused or being blamed for his own malfeasance. Journalistically speaking, Desmond has done more damage to the profession on the island than any other person or unnamed talk show. But his predatory management and refusal to pay his employees are what should bother most people even more. It’s expensive to live in Cayman and you can’t just quit and walk across the street to find another job. The government has heard numerous real accounts from employees at Net News about the abusive work environment but they continue to sit on their laurels it seems. There will always be a few kool-aide drinkers who think Dezzy Dog is a great man or as he would put it, "a man of vision," but in reality Desmond only cares about himself and his own needs. In November of 2008 the paychecks stopped coming in on time and the wheels started to fall off precipitously. It was sad to see so many go through such stress about being late on rent or unable to pay their bills. But I am glad that my old friends finally stood up for themselves. However today I saw that Dezzy Dog managed to get another edition out. It is totally shocking that he is able to just move from place to place owing so much money to so many people. Obviously he will never climb out of the abyss but why is anyone still giving him a chance to screw more people over? And no one should miss Net News once its gone. CNS is doing a good job of providing folks with an alternative view point to the saltine cracker dryness of the other rag. And CNS doesn’t need to go into print nor would it be possible. The beauty of CNS is speed and I am proud that Wendy is pushing the boundaries on criminal reports. For too long the Cayman press beckoned to the RCIPS who castrated the presses ability to cover crime. Anyways if anyone from DER or Immigration is reading this, do you damn jobs and shut Desmond down before he runs anyone else into the ground. 

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’ll be sad to see Net News go, if that’s the final outcome. It has been refreshing to have an alternative perspective to the Compass on the news. Maybe CNS will take up the slack and become a printed paper as well. I fear a return to the days when we had only the Compass as our printed source for news, but unfortunately things are not looking good for the survival of Net News.

  5. For whom the bell tolls says:

    I don’t believe, as one poster stated, this has anything to do with freedom of the press.  We shouldn’t be led down that garden path. Net News is not only a newspaper, it is/was a business. And in doing business violated several labor laws, such as paying wages.  And it appears to have violated rental agreements and ignored creditors.  On a personal level, Mr. Seales also may have violated his position as editor and the sanctity of the press by allowing letters to be written inhouse posing as letters from the public.  Freedom of the press also comes with obligations.

    ps. Stay justas you are CNS.  Poor.  But we love and have come to respect you!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I heard someone on the radio show a few weeks ago who said that one of the most important actions that a dictator or dictatorship will enforce is the "muzzling of the press." Likewise, one of the most important aspects of a DEMOCRACY is the FREEDOM OF THE PRESS & freedom of speech. A dictator will do all in his powers to silence any opposition to his rule, and silence anyone or anything (the press) that opposes his views!

    This is not a UDP or a PPM issue, because Net News has been equally hard on both parties. In fact I believe that Net News was more strong in opposition to the PPM than they have been so far to the UDP, & do not for a second believe that the PPM administration liked the negative press from Net News!

    However, if you take a deep look into the history of Mckeeva Bush’s politics you will notice a very clear & obvious dislike for any person, and most definitely for any press or news reporter that has criticized him, opposed him or exposed him. He has even gone so far as to expell a reporter from one of his press conferences!

    Therefore it comes as no surprise that the Net News is having a lot of difficulty operating at this time. It is obvious in my view that the powers that be are deliberately giving him a fight! "The powers that be" are most likely government themselves, as well as UDP members & supporters. Take a very close look and see where the fight against Net News is coming from. Like the caller said, it is pretty obvious.

    There are many signs that the good ship Cayman is being taken down the wrong path, but when we witness any attempts to muzzle or silence the press then we can be sure that we are being taken down that wrong path even quicker than we may have thought! "The clear signs of a dictator or dictatorship is the silencing of the press & anyone who opposes him"! You be the judge! "We report, you decide" 

    • Anonymous says:

      What nonsense!….Desmond has a history of this type of thing and when questioned he pulls out the “freedom of the press” boogie man. With freedom also comes responsibility.

      Any employer who does not meet the laws of the country should be prosecuted. The only reason he gets away with it in the past is that he “promises” retaliation in the Press. Pitiful.

      It is good to see that his employees have finally decided that they need to be paid also, work permit or not. Good for them.

      Net news has done more damage to this country in the name of freedom of the press than it should have been allowed to. Do not forget it was the central figure in this Tempura Episode and clearly continued to stir the pot even when the chips were down for the UK boys. Well the roosters have come home with a vengeance. And they are not UDP nor PPM roosters, just plain old fashion Cayman common roosters!

      The Cayman Islands clearly needs a second physical paper ( the Compass is now pathetic looking and merely rehashes the GIS statements) however we need a responsible paper, one that will not make up the news for sales. Glad to see it going, going,…. hopefully gone?!

      CNS keep up the good work…you have them all beat!

    • John Evans says:

      LOL, two quotes from Net News editorials!

      Yet clearly written by someone who has never worked for, or had any other dealings with, my former employer. This is not about freedom of the press – it’s about responsible management, honouring your obligations and not spending money you don’t have.
      In fact Net News/MCM has so far got off lightly and escaped the legal sanctions that many other businesses in the Cayman Islands have fallen foul of in similar circumstances.
      In 2007 the companies were allowed to repay substantial arrears of pension contributions without penalty despite being repeat offenders. The year before they had also temporarily defaulted on health insurance payments, again without penalty.
      Last year, the then CIO decided to take no action against the company over allegations of serious breaches of the work permit rules, including employing one member of staff without a permit.
      DER has consistently failed to schedule hearings involving substantial claims from former employees alleging (amongst other things) non-payment of wages, breach of contract and unfair dismissal – in my case the complaint was filed over 18 months ago.
      Then we have the bounced cheques. Banks normally respond to this kind of financial mismanagement by either closing the offending accounts or at least restricting account activity but there’s no sign of that happening. And the move to the Mirco centre? How many landlords would accept a tenant who was publicly evicted from their previous place of business for non-payment of rent?
      Readers should also bear in mind that, according to my sources, the debt which has brought things to the current crisis point goes back over 15 years and has been the subject of at least one previous court order back at the beginning of 2007 – this is a long-standing problem not, as is being claimed in some quarters, something new and related to the current economic climate.
      Rather than being muzzled or silenced, as the contributor suggests, Net News is being allowed to operate in circumstances that would have forced almost any other business in the Cayman Islands to close down. What people should be asking is, "Who is pulling the strings and letting this happen, and why?"
  7. noname says:

    About time …. Its about time that somone call the employment issues at the NotNews into question. It is widely rumored on the marl road that working conditions at that place is at best.. horrid. Letshope the system works and those in charge are brought to justice this time !!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Seales seems like a stand up guy…NOT!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Cayman Net News – In like a lion, out like a lamb.

    Payback’s a b*tch Desmond, you reap what you sow.

  10. Anonymous says:

    If he has broken laws he (like anyone else) should be prosecuted. Pensions? Work Permits? Health Insurance?  Labour? Anyone going to act against against very public breaches of the Law – or like everything else are we going to ignore it?