Archive for December 4th, 2009

Two George Town break-ins

| 04/12/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Police in George Town are appealing for information after two premises were broken into.
Sometime between 2.00am and 8.00am this morning, Friday 4 December, the Island Pot restaurant and lounge in Mary Street, George Town, was broken into. Entry was gained by forcing a door. A quantity of alcohol was stolen from the property. Also around 8.00am this morning a break-in was discovered at Champion House in Eastern Avenue. This time entry was gained through a window, but nothing was stolen.

Police are urging anyone with information about either of these crimes to contact George Town CID on 949-4222 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS).

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Armed holdup at mini-mart

| 04/12/2009 | 32 Comments

(CNS): A lone robber made off with an undisclosed sum of money after threatening a woman working at the Meringue Town Mini Mart in Boilers Road, George Town, last night with what appeared to be a handgun. About 11.10pm on Thursday, 3 December, a man entered the store, showed his gun to the 22-year-old mini-mart employee and demanded cash. The suspect was last seen running towards Walkers Road. He is described as being about 6 feet in height, heavy build with a dark complexion. He was wearing a black long-sleeved t-shirt, blue denim jeans and black sneakers.

He was also wearing dark coloured gloves, described as being similar to gardening gloves and was carrying what appears to be a handgun. No-one was injured as a result of the incident, and no shots were discharged. However, the woman was left shaken by the ordeal.

Police are urging anyone with information about the incident to call George Town CID on 949-4222 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS).

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New fee hikes to boost government coffers

| 04/12/2009 | 2 Comments

Cayman islands news island weather classifieds business financial services(CNS): Under a range of new fees to increase government income now in effect, the issue or renewal of a Cayman Islands passport is $75 for a child under 16 years and $100 for an adult, while visitors wanting to get married in the Cayman Islands will now have to pay $200 (up from $160 or US$200). Also passed in the LA on Wednesday (2 December) but not yet gazetted is an increase to the annual licence fee payable by money services businesses to $10,000, though this fee hike does not apply to the banking system.  A 2% tax on sending money overseas through a money service will also be introduced when the law comes into effect.

Other fee increases include a US Visa Waiver, which is now $25 for Grand Cayman residents and $15 for residents of Cayman Brac or Little Cayman, a US Visa Waiver Express for all three islands (issued by appointment in one business day) now $50, and call-out fee for emergency opening of the Passport Office now $75. Administrative services to British Overseas Territory citizens, or to British citizens, relating to applications for visitor’s visas to the USA – $50

A government release explains that the regular two- to three-week processing time for travel documents remains. However, PCS customers may choose to use the Express or Super Express passport services. Fees for these are in addition to passport application fees and cost $50 for Express Service (issue or renewal within two days to one week of application), or $100 for Super Express Service (issue or renewal in one business day or less).
Both services are available by appointment only and apply specifically to new or renewal of passports. They cannot be used in cases where a passport is stolen, lost or damaged.

In addition to these fees, new costs have been introduced for an Express Service which is separate and apart from that used for passport applications. Accordingly, whenever express service is required within one business day (and by appointment only) a charge of $75 is incurred and added to all the following fees: Change of name in a passport – $50, emergency passport for a British citizen – $100, Certificate of Identity – $75, documents to travel to Jamaica – $75, refugee travel documents – $40 (issue/renewal).

The following changes are associated with fees relating to the Governor’s Special Marriage Licence: A non-refundable application fee of $50 is now required. However, the use of a $10 postage stamp, which previously had to be affixed to every special marriage licence, has been discontinued. The licence fee remains at $150, but if the application is refused the licence fee will be refunded in full. Total fees payable for the issue of a special marriage licence for visitors are therefore CI$200.

New legislation passed this week will also increase the annual licence fee payable by money services businesses to $10,000; introduce an annual fee of $1,000 for each additional subsidiary, branch, agency or representative office that a money services business operates; and introduce a new transaction fee payable to Government, equal to 2% of the gross amount transferred overseas by a money services business on behalf of its customers. However, such a fee cannot exceed $10 per transaction.

Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson said in a release from his office, “Government made a deliberate decision to limit the fee to a maximum of $10 recognising that the majority of persons transferring funds overseas are lower-paid employees.” The Money Services Law makes it clear that banks, building societies and co-operative societies do not fall within its ambit. Hence, wire transfers, drafts and overnight funds in the banking system are not subject to the new transaction fee, he explained.


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CIMA launches new website

| 04/12/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) says their new website allows immediate access to information in relation to all aspects and functions of the authority, and follows a year of intense redevelopment and consultation with stakeholders to create a more user friendly domain. Launched in mid-November, the site is intended to be used as a primary communication tool for those doing business with CIMA. The site has a more modern layout with easier navigation, direct emailing capability to individual divisions, and additional search tools, making it easier to find documents. Users can now also sign up for web alerts so they can be notified when new material is posted.

“The goal of this endeavour was to assist our clients and the public who use our site to more easily gather information, stay abreast of regulatory requirements and developments, and locate the various documents used in business with CIMA,” explains Public Relations Executive, Ms. Joan Scott, who headed the website development team. “Although our prior site had much of the same information, it is now presented in a straightforward format which also highlights some of the previously under-emphasised aspects of CIMA’s work, such as enforcement and international cooperation. We trust that our clients will find the new design much more compatible with their needs.”

The site also continues providing aggregate statistical information, lists of regulated entities in each sector, the ability to search for individual authorised entities, as well as the latest CIMA public notices, media releases, and publications, among other information. The site was developed with the assistance of US-based business development and web design group Comsys.

“CIMA’s website is a key resource for the Authority’s stakeholders, who are a diverse audience,” comments Managing Director Cindy Scotland. “In redeveloping the site, we found out from clients their main frustrations in using the old domain. The most common issue was difficulty finding information. We addressed this by organising what is a vast amount of data into subject areas rather than by CIMA divisions, putting the most requested information up front, and providing multiple means for users to find what they want. Feedback thus far has been very positive.”

Scotland added: “As the main regulator of one of the world’s leading financial centres, it is imperative that CIMA’s site reflects our high regulatory standards by providing timely, relevant information and creating an efficient access point for this jurisdiction.”

All are encouraged to visit the site at and offer feedback for future improvements.

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CAL takes steps to prevent travel scam

| 04/12/2009 | 6 Comments

Cayman islands news island weather classifieds business financial services(CNS): To help combat fraudulent sales of supposedly discount airline tickets, Cayman Airways has introduced a variety of new payment and booking procedures, including requiring customers to provide the security-code on the back of the credit or debit card being used for payment, and requiring an address verification of cardholders. Additionally, for web bookings the card holder must be at least one of the passengers traveling, and bookings made within 48 hours of travel will require the card holder to present the card at the airport for verification.

Alternatively, the card holder can present the card prior to departure at any Cayman Airways ticket office for verification.

Fabian Whorms, Acting CEO of Cayman Airways commented, “Cayman Airways is committed to providing secure booking processes for our customers, and we thank the public for their cooperation and understanding.”

This week the RICPS warned that a con-artist is offering package travel deals, primarily to Jamaica, and has taken cash from individuals for tickets which they are told are bought on line. In reality, the tickets were purchased using fraudulent means. The FCU said the scam where the recipients believe they have a genuine ticket and travel itinerary isbecause the criminals have used the credit cards details of customers from various banks around the world.

In light of this latest scam, Cayman Airways Limited (CAL) issued a reminder to the travelling public to ensure that all CAL tickets are made only through authorized travel agencies, or directly through the airline.

The travel scam has resulted in many people being left without a valid ticket, CAL noted in a release, and in several instances the unauthorized individuals promised and collected money for airline tickets at a significantly discounted price, or at a previously promoted sale price that was no longer available.

“These invalid tickets are being sold for cash directly, or via money transfer,” explained Cayman Airways Senior VP Commercial Affairs and CFO, Paul Tibbetts. “Stolen credit cards are then used to make the seemingly legitimate booking for the traveler, leaving them with a situation where they are either denied travel or the matter is turned over to the RCIP for action.” Tibbetts said it is important to note that in cases where the passenger has already travelled, they are the ones who are held accountable.

Anyone who suspects that they may have been a victim of this scam or who has recently paid cash to a third party for flights, other than a bona fide travel agency or airline is asked to contact DC Richard Clarke at the Financial Crimes Unit on 9498797.

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JA police commissioner: ‘Corrupt cops must go’

| 04/12/2009 | 5 Comments

(Jamaica Observer): Acting Police Commissioner Owen Ellington, apparently embarrassed by the latest allegations that cops were actively involved in criminal gangs and other crimes, vowed yesterday to purge the constabulary of corrupt elements. Ellington, speaking at a press conference at his office on Old Hope Road in St Andrew, said corruption was the bane of the constabulary and promised to use every means at his disposal to clean up the police force. "I am deeply concerned at what appears to be an escalation in the activities or participation by members of the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) in criminal gangs as well as consorting with known criminal elements," said a stern-faced Ellington.

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Loans not an issue, says Joey

| 04/12/2009 | 55 Comments

Cayman islands news island weather classifieds business financial services(CNS): The former managing director of Boatswain’s Beach Cayman Turtle Farm has told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that he did not think any of the management team at the facility considered his ‘advances’ of some $50,000 to be a problem, which is why they never told the farm board.  Contrary to the evidence given by the CFO and HR manager, Joey Ebanks said they were free to talk openly to the board and he believed if they had any issues about the advances they had plenty of opportunities to express their concerns to the board members at meetings or on other occasions – a point vehemently denied by members of the team.

Giving evidence to the PAC on the auditor general’s report Loans and Expenditures of Funds at Boatswain Beach, Ebanks did not reveal why he had taken so much money from the ailing facility, or how he made a repayment of over $51,000 in cash to the farm without questions being asked. AG Dan Duguay, however, told PAC that he had informed the FRU when he undertook the audit about the unusually large cash payment.

During his appearance Ebanks did not seem to acknowledge that it was unorthodox for a managing director of a publically owned company to be taking regular interest free loans on a monthly basis from the company. He did, however, say that in hindsight he regretted taking the advances without telling the board and that he had made errors of judgment.

The former MD also apologised to the committee for making them summons him, while noting that he felt when he was ‘invited’ to come to PAC it was not a requirement, but he said he was more than willing to answer their questions.

In an openingstatement, he outlined many issues and problems at the farm when he took over and focused his attention on the part of Dan Duguay’s report that referred to the hospitality spending. He said the $6,000 was not his bar tab but a policy of promoting the Schooners Bar, a policy which both the CFO, Vigay Parabddeen, and the HR manager, David McCray, (formerly the food and beverage manager) had said they were completely unaware of. 

Ebanks insisted that the 60 tabs or more were bills run up by staff at the facility with permission to encourage punters to come to the bar, which Ebanks said turned out to be a great success.  There was, however, no documentary evidence to support Ebanks’ claim of an official policy to use public money to buy drinks and cigarettes for guests to promote the facility. 

During the questioning Ebanks insisted that the loans, which he referred to as advances, were not unusual and that it was a policy that had been in place for a long time, by which staff had been allowed to take advances when required. He also said that he had not read the employee hand book where it stated that staff were only allowed four advances per year. Ebanks had taken some 16 advance in less than 18 months. He said that because morale was low at the farm and things were in turmoil he had relaxed all of the restricting policies on salary advances, so when in need staff could take them.

The HR manager, however, told the committee that, while there had been a few other advances taken by some employees, they were all relatively small amounts that had been paid back over three month periods. It became apparent that Ebanks was the only person taking several thousand dollars every month without any kind of payment plan to pay the advances back.

McCray also stated that Ebanks even signed off his own advance after both he and the chief financial officer (CFO) refused to do so as the loan reached more than $40,000.

Ebanks also denied that anyone in his management team needed to feel uncomfortable about talking to the board. He stated that he had always encouraged them to speak freely.  While on reflection he should have informed the board, at the time, as the board were never told about other advances before his time, he did not see the need, he said,

Both McCray and Parabdeen disagreed with this comment and told the committee they were told by Ebanks not to speak to the board about anything. Moreover, they both expressed how concerned they were about the situation and said they did not just see the borrowing as run of the mill salary advances.

As members of PAC continued to ask Ebanks about the processes and procedures around the loan, he continued to insist that his advances were not a priority and the farm had far bigger problems to worry about. He seemed not to note the irony when he talked about the farm losing significant sums and having no proper business strategies that he was taking interest free loans from a facility that was haemorrhaging public funds.

At no time did Ebanks explain why, when he was earning in excess of $100,000 per annum as the MD, he also needed to top up his monthly salary with constant loans ranging from $1,000 to as much as $15,500. He said it was not a problem as there was never any risk that he would not pay back the sums in question and this was demonstrated when he resigned, told the board and settled the sum in full soon after. Ebanks resigned from the Turtle Farm suddenly when he decided to run for office in the May 2009 General Election as the PPM candidate for North Side, the seat now held by the PAC chair and independent MLA, Ezzard Miller.

Despite the unorthodox nature of the salary advances, or loans as Dan Duguay has described them, during the PAC meeting, Ebanks sought to take aim at the AG saying he had refused to change the report when Ebanks had asked him to, so he had decided not to offer comment.

Following the statement, Duguay explained that he had told Ebanks he was not changing his summary of the report as that was his opinion of what had happened at the farm based on the facts, which he said Ebanks had not disputed where the loan was concerned.

Duguay explained that when Ebanks offered his defence over the $6,000 bar tab he had not been able to support it with any documentary evidence, which is why he could not change the report’s findings. But he emphasised that Ebanks had been given ample opportunity and time to offer his comments to Duguay’s office, which the AG said would have been included had he submitted them as invited.

Following the meeting PAC will now reconvene after the Christmas break to write up their own report based on the AG’s findings and all of the evidence that has come before the committee to make recommendations for the future.

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Court delegation visits crime scene in East End

| 04/12/2009 | 0 Comments

Cayman islands news island weather classifieds business financial services(CNS): The trial of Randy Martin for the murder of Sabrina Schirn moved out of the court room on Thursday when a court delegation, including the judge, Justice Charles Quin, court staff, the prosecution team, the defence counsel and the defendant, all visited the scene of the killing led by RCIPS scenes of crime officer Zoan Marin.  According to News 27, during the visit to the High Rock Road area the defence team also reportedly pointed out two new locations that have not yet been mentioned during the court proceedings. (Photo courtesy of News27)

The delegation made the trip to East End because Justice Quin said he believed it would be useful for him to get a better idea of the area as he is trying the case without a jury. The defence also said they had been unable to gain access to the prison farm since it closed in the wake of the murder of Schirn.

News 27 reported that some twenty people on in the court group trekked through the bushes to examine the area where Schirn’s body was found, where the car was discovered and the prison farm where the defendant Randy Martin was working on 11 March this year, the day the prosecution say Randy Martin Murdered the 21-year-old woman.

The defence also took a look at three new areas nearby but did not state at the time of the visit why they were pointing out these locations.

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