Archive for December 14th, 2009

Cayman moves towards MOU with Dubai

| 14/12/2009 | 12 Comments

Cayman Islands business news(CNS): During the most recent stop in the premier’s world tour, McKeeva Bush was selling the merits of the Cayman Islands to the wealthy Arabian Gulf state of Dubai. According to a release from the Ministry of Finance, Cayman moved closer to securing agreement on areas of mutual cooperation with Dubai. The Cayman delegation reportedly met with a number of key financialplayers from Dubai and the United Arab Emerites to discuss a memorandum of understanding between the two jurisdictions.

What the ministry described as meetings between a high-level delegation from the Cayman Islands and representatives from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), the principal financial services regulator of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), took palce on Monday 14 December, followed by an evening reception held at The Capital Club – a business club located within the DIFC site – which was sponsored by Cayman Islands private sector firms with a presence in Dubai.

“The enthusiasm and interest in the Cayman Islands among our counterparts at the DIFC, DFSA and broader Dubai financial services community has continued to grow since my last visit here in 2005,” said Bush. “The momentum from today’s discussions and previous dialogue between the regulators of our respective jurisdictions provide a basis to conclude a memorandum of understanding, which will ultimately result in greater commercial opportunities for the Cayman Islands’ financial services sector.”

Sandy Shipton, DIFC Head of Wealth Management, said the organisation welcomed the premier’s visit and the productive discussions between the two jurisdictions, which would “undoubtedly result in a greater level of cooperation between the UAE and the Cayman Islands.”

The ministry said that John Papesh, the Dubai-based economic development advisor to the Cayman Islands government for the Middle East, provided essential support in reaching DIFC decision makers and organising the mission. The Cayman Islands delegation included Carson Ebanks, Chief Officer in the Ministry of Finance, Tourism & Development; Dax Basdeo, Executive Director of the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau; Cline Glidden, MLA  and Richard Parchment, Senior Political Assistant to the Premier.

Continue Reading

PTU denies taxi tensions

| 14/12/2009 | 7 Comments

Cayman Islands news(CNS): Following recent reports regarding tensions among local taxi and bus drivers and the seizure of several knives by the police, the director of the Public Transport Unit has denied that the unit had reported any particular concerns to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) about drivers carrying weapons in public buses and taxis. Durk Banks told CNS that he believed the police had carried out the stop and search initiative on West Bay Road in November because officers had turned up a weapon on a routine traffic stop.

However, Police had previously said that they had instigated the special operation not only because they had seized a machete from a taxi driver who was pulled over for a traffic violation but because they had heard from the PTU  that the buses and taxis were involved in an unspecified dispute that had escalated, resulting in drivers arming themselves. Superintendent Kurt Walton said that police seized nine weapons from taxi drivers, including a machete and knives, in contravention of the Transport Law during an operation in November.

In the wake of information from the police about the dispute between drivers, CNS contacted the PTU, and the director responded with a brief statement denying knowledge of any specific dispute.

"While the Public Transport Unit works closely with the RCIPS and is in support of measures taken to combat crime, the PTU is not aware of any tensions between the taxi drivers, which caused the police to be concerned and seize knives,” Banks stated. “The stop and search operation, which was conducted by the RCIPS, came about as a result of a routine stop on one taxi, the owner of which was found to be in possession of a weapon."

Responding to the apparent difference of opinion, a police spokesperson told CNS, “There is evident confusion between the parties involved in this matter. Therefore, before we make any further comment we will be seeking a meeting with the PTU to discuss the issue at the earliest opportunity."

After the stop and search operation, a number of drivers had complained that the police conducted the stop and searches when they were carrying tourists, and that officers were rude and aggressive to the passengers as well as to the drivers, giving the wrong impression to visitors to the islands.

Walton insisted that his officers were not heavy handed or aggressive in their approach and were doing their job. "I disagree with that,” he said. “We have taxi drivers who are ambassadors for our country driving around with weapons.”  

He added that the officers involved had used discretion when seizing the weapons and had not taken anyone into custody, though they had a right to do so. Walton said that the RCIPS had not yet made any arrests over the knives, even though several drivers had clearly broken the law by carrying them in their cabs. He did say, however, that one driver was charged for driving without insurance.

He insisted that the operation was about preventing crime not harassing people, and whatever the taxi drivers’ complaints were regarding the tourists’ impressions of the operation, the idea of a full scale all-out fight in the centre of George Town was far more of a concern – something he said his officers had likely averted. The senior officer also said the vast majority of drivers had been very cooperative and the police had succeeded in pushing the message that it is against the law for drivers to carry weapons when driving the taxis.

Continue Reading

Viruses that leave victims red in the Facebook

| 14/12/2009 | 0 Comments

Cayman Islands news(New York Times): It used to be that computer viruses attacked only your hard drive. Now they attack your dignity. Malicious programs are rampaging through Web sites like Facebook and Twitter, spreading themselves by taking over people’s accounts and sending out messages to all of their friends and followers. The result is that people are inadvertently telling their co-workers and loved ones how to raise their I.Q.’s or make money instantly, or urging them to watch an awesome new video in which they star.

Go to article

Continue Reading

Jamaican teacher to head high school

| 14/12/2009 | 29 Comments

Cayman Islands education news(CNS): Update Monday 10:30am — The Education Ministry has confirmed reports in the Jamaican press that a high school principal from that country has been seconded to the John Gray High School (JGHS) here in the Cayman Islands. The ministry has said that, effective 4 January, Aldin Bellinfantie will assume his role as the new principal of JGHS, and that he has been seconded from the Ministry of Education in Jamaica for an 18-month period. The Cayman Islands Education Ministry said in a release this morning (Monday 14 December) that Bellinfantie was appointed following a rigorous recruitment process undertaken by the Department of Education Services (DES).

The ministry says that he is a well-rounded educator with some thirty-one years of practical education experience. Currently the principal of Irwin High School in Montego Bay, Jamaica, he has also served as advisor to Jamaica’s Ministry of Education; as a high school mathematics teacher; and in London as a lecturer of mathematics, statistics, finance and economics.

He has published education-related books, papers and manuals, including: A Principal’s Tool Kit in participatory learning and Action Methods; Involving Parents and the Community in Schools – A training manual; A Guide to Educational/Business Partnership; and Supporting Partnerships in Children’s Education – A Training Manual for Community Volunteers.

As John Gray High School principal he will be responsible for the school’s professional leadership and management. “Mr. Bellinfantie’s responsibilities will include promoting a culture of high expectations, and ensuring high-quality education for all students at the school,” Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler explained.

Commenting on the secondment, Ministry of Education Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues said, “I am pleased that the recruitment process has yielded someone of Mr. Bellinfante’s calibre, and I am happy to welcome him to our education system. His experience in school improvement will be extremely valuable at this critical time for JGHS, and as we prepare for significant changes in the way we deliver secondary education in our government schools."

“His efforts at John Gray will align with, and complement, the policies and work of the DES and Ministry. These include raising educational standards and improving the quality of teaching and learning within our education system,” she added.

The Jamaica Observer reports that the request for Bellinfantie’s secondment was made by Rodrigues to her Jamaican counterpart and was formally approved Wednesday, 9 December.

The Cayman Islands Ministry of Education has recently announced that over the coming months the education system will undergo a number of major changes, including the transformation, to be implemented in September 2010, of the JGHS campus, currently a high school, and the George Hicks Campus, which is currently a middle school, into two “all-through” high schools, catering to students from Years 7- 11 (ages 11 to 16).

The ministry also said that innovative technical subjects available in the two schools on Grand Cayman will include a leisure and tourism option, which is specially designed and accredited for Caymanian students, as well as catering; music technology; and health and social care. These will be offered in addition to already well-established programmes in construction, electrical and electronics and motor vehicles, reflecting a renewed focuson national priorities and the needs of the labour market, the release says.

A mandatory 16+ “bridge year” for students who have completed their CXC/GCSE examinations will also be launched in 2010, the ministry said, and will include a variety of programmes for students at all levels, including technical and vocational options, foundation studies for students who want to improve their readiness for further studies, and will also provide the opportunity for retakes of exams.

The ministry will be introducing Advanced Placement (AP) for academically inclined students, through which they can earn college credit and significant advanced standing for US universities. The 16+ programme is also working towards accreditation for the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma programme, which, like AP, offers further academic courses and prepares university-bound students but encompasses a more holistic approach to education.

The ministry has said that the transformation to education will be implemented whether the new schools are built or not.

“Given the uncertainties, the group has the difficult task of planning for a range of scenarios: the delivery of one new high school, two new schools, or no schools at all,” Rodrigues explained. “With the Minister’s clear direction, the group is now focusing on the developments that will be rolled out for a September 2010 start, no matter what pertains in relation to the new buildings.”

See New options for 16+ students

Continue Reading

British Airways staff vote for strike over Christmas

| 14/12/2009 | 10 Comments

(Telegraph): More than a million British Airways passengers have had their Christmas holiday travel plans thrown into chaos after the airline’s cabin crew voted to strike. The first walkout could take place as early as Monday, unless agreement can be reached between the airline and union negotiators. Industrial action was confirmed by the British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (Bassa) ahead of the formal announcement of the ballot, by the cabin crew union, Unite. The industrial action by around 13,500 cabin crew will also heap misery on passengers, at one of the busiest times of the year. At best they face days of uncertainty while the union maps out its strategy.

Go to article


Continue Reading

Cutting back on stuff

| 14/12/2009 | 7 Comments

The Department of Environmental Health circulated a press release recently that asked people to cut down on waste this season by thinking about the kind of gifts they give at Christmas, and while it was a little self-serving because of the DoEH’s obvious resource problems at the moment, it was still a very good point.

We all consume far too much stuff all of the time. The world is effectively drowning in the garbage generated by First World countries, where it sometimes seems as though the major purpose in life for people is to work their fingers to the bone in order to consume more stuff. At Christmas time the consuming of stuff turns into a frenzied feeding of the ‘stuff monster’ that creates even more waste from stuff that people often didn’t want in the first place.

I tried looking for statistics showing how much more waste was created by stuff at Christmas and couldn’t find anything definitive, but common sense tells us that the season to be joyful is also the season to be even more wasteful than ever.

The people at the DoEH made some great suggestions about presents that produce less waste from gift-cards for spa treatments and cinema tickets to home made baked goods and gifts of time and services, which are great ides. One of my own favourites, and long time readers of Cayman News Service will already be well aware of this, is the idea of buying friends a donation to charity that’s tangible.

Oxfam started "Oxfam unwrapped” several years ago, which offers Christmas Shoppers the chance to buy a real gift, which instead of being delivered to the recipient goes to someone who needs it more. For as little as $10 you can buy five bags of seeds to send to a family who needs it most in Africa, or if you are feeling particularly generous, $27 buys you a school teacher to send to India. A card is sent to the person you’re buying the gift for explaining why their Christmas present has gone to someone else, which is a great idea all round.

It solves the dilemma of what to get people, it cuts down shopping time, it saves on waste enormously but it still tells someone you thought about them, and there are few people that would be offended by such a gesture (or at least they’d never admit it), and if anything, you usually find you make another convert to the cause.

Oxfam is not alone in its Christmas donation scheme. Other charities have also picked up on the idea, giving gift buyers the chance to tailor the donation to suit the recipient’s own cause, from animal protection to cancer research.

You don’t have to be a Christian to understand that this time of year is about giving to others and remembering people who are special to you, but in our world of excess and over consumption, the DoEH was right to talk about making gifts more meaningful.

Whether you choose to send your gifts to the Third World or knock up some preservers and cakes in your own kitchen, it’s still giving and it’s giving from the heart as much as the pocket. We should not let ourselves be defined by the cost or size of the gifts we give to each other, and while kids may have certain expectations about midnight deliveries from the guy in the red suit, workplace secret Santas can be just as much fun (if not funnier) if the theme is ‘make your own gift’ or donate to charities.

Let’s face it, unless we plan to cover  Mount Trashmore with snow and turn it into a ski-park, we really need to do something, and with each successive government appearing unable to tackle the issue of waste management in the Cayman Islands, it’s time for people to take action. Even if we all convert just one gift into something that doesn’t produce waste this year, with more than 50,000 of us that’s still a heck of a lot of waste savings.

Continue Reading

Lawyers say funds are back

| 14/12/2009 | 0 Comments

Cayman Islands news, Cayman Business news, Cayman hedge funds(CNS): Lawyers from the Cayman Islands, where some 80% of the world’s hedge funds are still domiciled, are reporting that the fund business is on the up even if that business is changing shape. According to one local expert, the jurisdiction has seen a strong pick-up in new fund activity recently. Ingrid Pierce, head of the Cayman Islands hedge fund practice at Walkers, a law firm, told the Financial Times this weekend that interest during the summer has turned into real business. “We started getting patchy interest in launching new funds in the summer, which has turned into solid instructions for the end of 2009 and the start of 2010,” she said.

The fund activity falls broadly into two camps: restructured versions of funds that had experienced large redemptions and falls in net asset value, or brand new funds seeking to take advantage of inefficiencies thrown up by the credit crisis.

The strategies of the latter group are often highly targeted, Pierce told the FT. “Strategies are often targeted with a specific set of investors in mind. More managers are prepared to send out draft documents to prominent clients and potential clients to determine if a strategy works for them, and then re-define it depending on the feedback received,” she added.

However, the strategies employed are not the only element that is changing in hedge funds. Fund sizes are smaller, fees structures are mutating, and investors’ liquidity and transparency demands are rising.

Appleby, a Caymans-based legal firm, also told the leading financial daily that fund launches are significantly smaller than previous vintages. “$50m is the new $500m,” says Gray Smith, a partner. Part of the invested capital is frequently sourced from the management team itself these days, he added s. “They are injecting their own funds while they get back into the game and establish a track record, so if significant money returns next year they can show the strategy works.”

Go to full FT article

Continue Reading

Climate talks resume

| 14/12/2009 | 0 Comments

Cayman Islands news, Cayman islands weather(BBC): Talks at the UN climate summit resumed on Monday afternoon after protests from developing nations forced a suspension. But talks have been limited to informal consultations on procedural issues, notably developing countries’ demands for more time on the Kyoto Protocol. The G77/China bloc, speaking for developing countries, said the Danish hosts had violated democratic process. Some delegates talked forlornly of the vast amount of negotiating left to be done before the summit concludes. The G77-China bloc, made up of 130 nations, suspended their co-operation as they accused organisers of trying to formulate a deal behind closed doors.


Go to article

Continue Reading

Law firm predicts exodus of hedge funds from EU

| 14/12/2009 | 0 Comments

(FT.Com): Every hedge fund will leave the European Union if proposals to clamp down on the sector’s remuneration policies are adopted, a leading law firm has said. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer said if the proposals became law the impact would be “rapid and decisive…no hedge funds will operate from within the EU”.  Sweden, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, proposed last month that hedge funds should be barred from using fees earned from successful parts of their business to pay staff working in underperforming areas and that up to 60 per cent of pay should be deferred for up to three years.

 Go to article


Continue Reading

Bermudan reinsurance firm sets up shop in Cayman

| 14/12/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A company offering insurance and reinsurance management services is expanding its presence to the Cayman Islands to take advantage of Cayman’s position in the catastrophe bond SPV market the company said in a release. Horseshoe Services (Cayman) Limited will focus on non-insurance SPV administration while it is waiting to obtain an Insurance Manager license from the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority in order to administer insurance SPVs as well.

The firm said it will build on the global expertise of the Horseshoe Group, which is based in Bermuda, in managing Insurance-Linked Investment structures such as sidecars and transformers, to deliver superior SPV administration services.

Andre Perez, CEO of Horseshoe Group said the firm was pleased to have established a presence in the Cayman Islands with Cayman Trust Limited. “As an active enabler in the ILS space, it was a natural progression for the Horseshoe Group to have resources available in Cayman where the great majority of the Catastrophe Bond activity takes place. Being able to offer services both in Bermuda and Cayman allows us to better meet our client’s needs,” he added.

Continue Reading