Archive for October 12th, 2010

Brac will get investment too, says deputy premier

| 12/10/2010 | 30 Comments

(CNS): The minister for District Administration has told her constituents that the premier’s recent global treks are necessary to stimulate inward investment, which will include the Sister Islands. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said that during their travels McKeeva Bush and Cline Glidden MLA were both keeping a keen eye out for investment that would benefit Cayman Brac. Speaking at a public meeting, the deputy premier said the pair was looking, in particular, for investment partners for a proposed cruise berthing harbour on the north coast of the island. She also revealed that, despite the constraints on the public purse, the road upgrades and other projects were going ahead on the Brac, including privately owned parking lots adjacent to the roads.

The inward investment that O’Connor Connolly spoke about is expected to help a proposed jetty and marina by Dervin Scott in the area referred to as Scotts Dock. The minister also confirmed that government supported another proposed marina adjacent to the recently constructed Alexander Hotel on the south coast of Cayman Brac.

Hosting a town hall style meeting on Friday (8 October) at the Aston Rutty Civic Centre, O’Connor Connolly, along with government officials, briefed around 45 Brac residents about ongoing and forthcoming projects for the Sister islands. The deputy premier admitted the difficulty government had in paying bills and expenses because of the recession and government’s debt.

She said the seasonal cycle of government revenue along with the repressed local and international economy meant that government was unable to meet all of its financial obligations and was forced to prioritise public service payroll. She said operating debts to small businesses were also at top of the payment list but other bills would remain unpaid until the government cash flow improved, hopefully in January. O’Connor Connolly said that would be when normal revenue patterns improve and funding for the approved borrowing was secured.

Regardless of the government’s financial troubles, the Sister Islands MLA assured the attendees that the ongoing asphalt paving programme of the north coast road of Cayman Brac was not threatened. The job has currently reached Stake Bay and will continue to the fire station at the West End of Cayman Brac. In the second phase Gerald Smith Drive will be paved down to Brac Reef Hotel. The third phase will be to pave the south coast road and then the Bluff roads. She also said that privately owned parking lots adjacent to the main roads would also be included in the public project.

The work is being conducted by the National Road Authority (NRA) crew from GrandCayman in conjunction with the Cayman Brac and Little Cayman Public Works Department (PWD).  She said this arrangement has allowed for cross-training.

PWD on Cayman Brac will be relocated to an already designated site on the Bluff. The current location and staff will be revamped, with all employees being outfitted with new uniforms and improved skill sets. "I want and they want to have pride reintroduced in PWD," noted the minister.

She said she wanted to see greater tolerance towards those government employees that might have drug or alcohol problems and that these employees must be afforded help for their vices. The minister proclaimed that the community cannot afford to write-off young people.

The minister further promised the local PWD improved resources and more tools to get the job done. "They must be provided with whatever they need to make their environment better and safer," she said.  

Other infrastructure enhancement work throughout Cayman Brac includes a cement cabana at the Spot Bay Park, an enclosed bandstand in the Creek at the Panama Canal, and a bathroom and cabana at a new park in Watering Place, across from the soon to be completed new cemetery.  

Additionally, government will receive this week a mobile fueling trailer with a capacity of 500 gallons of gas and 500 gallons of diesel. Following the success of the mosquito abatement program on Grand Cayman, Brackers learned that the MRCU spray plane could soon be redeployed to spray over Cayman Brac.

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Murder suspect charged with West Bay shooting

| 12/10/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Updated 8:30pm – The 39-year-old man charged in connection with the murder of Tyrone Burrell appeared in court today and was remanded in custody to Northward Prison. Leonard Ebanks is charged with murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm over the fatal shooting of the 20-year-old Burrell in Birch Tree Hill, West Bay, on Wednesday, 8 September. Burrell was killed during a social function in the same yard in which Damion Ming was also shot and killed in March. Police revealed in the wake of Burrell’s murder that, although he was not a police witness, officers believed he had information in connection with an on going police investigation. (Photo courtesy of Cayman27)

Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden said recently that Burrell’s murder demonstrated that silence was no guarantee of safety and things could have been different if the young man had spoken out about what he knew.

Ebanks is also due to stand trial in the Grand Court in February next year in connection with rape charges. The 39-year-old West Bayer is accused of attacking and assaulting a 31-year-old man on Joseph Drive in West Bay in January.

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Expert says Cayman should court US law makers

| 12/10/2010 | 4 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands financial services sector should be lobbying congress in order to influence legislation that affects offshore jurisdictions, an expert has said. Rob Herriott, a former Washington staffer, told an audience of delegates at a conference last week that it is not possible to change people’s minds at the last minute when legislation is coming to the table. He warned that to really influence US legislation impacting their business they needed to cultivate relationships with law makers over a long period. Pointing out that there were very few members in congress who had experience of financial services or were even economists, he said there was still considerable misunderstanding about the world of offshore finance that they needed to address.

Speaking at the Campbells’ Cayman Fund Focus conference, which took place at the Ritz on Friday, Herriott, who is now an investment consultant, told delegates that the congressmen would be voting on legislation based on what their advisors and staffers told them. As a result, in order to influence votes Cayman had to build up relationships with the congress members’ staffers and begin the education process long before relevant legislation came to the House of Representatives.
 
“You need to identify congress members who have constituents affected by the financial industry and tie Cayman’s interests to the interests of those constituents,” he explained. He said if people from Cayman could send the message that offshore finance was good for US jobs, then they would gain traction with law makers.
 
He pointed out, however, that even with education there were members who simply did not believe in tax competition and who will never be influenced by lobbying from Cayman firms, but he said there were others that were not hostile but just needed information and understanding. Admitting that it was not easy, Herriott pointed out that it was a long term project that needed a long term commitment to education and influence and was achievable only over time. Approaching legislators on the eve of a vote was far too late he said.
 
He applauded Cayman Finance for its efforts but noted its focus had been mostly on the media, whereas Herriott recommended that the local private sector build congress contacts as that would in the long run have some direct influence over legislation when it mattered.
 
He pointed out that there was a need for the Cayman Islands Government, Cayman Finance and other private sector entities to be coordinated in their efforts. He said the more people there were attempting to influence the law makers in Washington, the louder the message but it was important it was the same message.
 
The former Washington staffer also acknowledged that there was a feeling among US lawmakers that supporting Cayman or offshore finance was not necessarily a popular position to take but Cayman had to defend itself against such misinformation by getting those congressmen to begin speaking up about the connection with offshore and US jobs and economic growth.
 
Herriott said that there would be a political switch in the membership of congress soon and that the Cayman Islands had an opportunity to begin influencing members that may well be more inclined to listen, and it should not miss the chance to cultivate supporters.

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Law fundamentally “flawed”

| 12/10/2010 | 48 Comments

(CNS): A twelve page memo to government from the Financial Services Legislative Committee reveals that because the necessary experts were not consulted before government passed the Dormant Accounts Law 2010 it has potentially dangerous consequences for the financial services industry. The legislative sub-committee, which was asked to review the bill — a month after its passage into law — said that unless it was changed it would have “a serious and irreversible adverse impact" on what was revealed to be a long list of key financial service industries, from investment funds to private wealth management services. The committee has now submitted a complete re-write of the law, which they say could still enable government to access truly, dormant accounts without damaging the financial sector.

“It is our view that the law as currently drafted is fundamentally flawed, unworkable and would cause irreparable damage to certain investment fund and capital market transactions,” the legislative committee said in the memo about the law, which was enacted this summer and is currently in place.
 
The financial experts warned that unless it was changed soon it had the “very real potential for current and future clients to elect to conduct their business in jurisdictions other than the Cayman Islands.”  
 
The flawed law, which was passed in the Legislative Assembly in July, gives government legal access to dormant accounts after some six years of inactivity and was expected to raise as much as $10 milllion for the public purse.
 
Since its passage, however, concerns have been mounting about the implications of the legislation, for which it now appears there was little or no consultation with experts in the industry. Banks are already advertising details of hundreds of accounts that could be considered to be dormant under the law. The new legislation requires financial institutions to begin the process of turning over abandoned property to government otherwise those institutions could face criminal penalties.
 
Despite claims in the parliament by the premier that consultation had taken place on the law, it appears that the Financial Services Legislative Committee had not been involved in the drafting of the law and were not shown the legislation until after it was passed. The law was brought to the Legislative Assembly and passed without any public consultation as it was not given the 21 days reading period under Standing Orders because government voted to suspend that requirement.
 
Although the goal of the law was to enable government to seize abandoned cash and valuables, the subcommittee said it had swept up numerous other long term investment vehicles and instruments in the way it was drafted.
 
In the memo members of the subcommittee recommended that government change the law to apply only to bank licences where the assets are physically held in the Cayman Islands. The experts pointed out that, at present, the law could cause a “massive adverse reaction from Class B licensees if funds held in dormant accounts in the Cayman subsidiary or branch would be susceptible to payment over to the Cayman Islands Government.”
 
The law, as a result of “ambiguous drafting”, appears to catch a wide range of financial products that are not at all dormant, the memo said. The experts added that because terms were poorly defined in section 4 of the law the “scope is almost boundless”, and they warned of the real danger of scaring away clients from Cayman.  
 
“It could cover any type of asset or property held by a financial institution … the logistics of monitoring such assets for the purposes of dormancy are inconceivable,” the memo states.
 
Among the many criticisms the subcommittee has of the law, it also notes that in most other jurisdictions the period of dormancy is around 15 years and recommend that the current six years in the law also be changed to 12 years.  The memo further notes that the law in its present form is in conflict with the Bill of Rights, which will be enacted in 2012 and which government is now obligated to consider when passing all new legislation.
 
The experts also question why the law requires the publication of names and account details of dormant account holders. “This would be a great cause of consternation for most banks and trust companies involved in private wealth management and would be a deterrent to any clients of the licensees wanting to have their affairs managed through the Cayman Islands,” the memo revealed.
 
Although the subcommittee submitted its redraft of the legislation to the Ministry of Finance on 24 August, the government did not bring the changes to the LA during the most recent September sitting. It is still unclear if the government will bring the changes in the next meeting, expected to take place in November, or how much of the subcommittee’s redrafting the ministry will include in any future changes.

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Champ has ‘Cayman soul’

| 12/10/2010 | 24 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Cydonie Mothersill(CNS): Following her historic win in the 200m finals yesterday (Monday 11 October) at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Cayman’s Cydonie Mothersill told the international press that she had welcomed the challenges in her career because she had “Cayman soul". The sprinter has attracted considerable media attention since she claimed gold in India in an emphatic victory over England’s Abiodun Oyepitan in 22.89 seconds. Mothersill will enter the history books in the Cayman Islands as the first athlete to secure a gold medal at the games. “I am so excited to bring home the gold. It’s my first one and I am savouring the moment," Mothersill told the international press.

"I am so happy," she added on winning her country’s inaugural gold. "I have welcomed the challenges because I have Cayman soul."
 
Mothersill competed a day late following an appeal over the disqualification of the fastest qualifier, Elena Artymata of Cyprus, who stepped out of her lane in her semi-final. Mothersill said she tried to blank out the disqualification disruption. "The officials made the decision. It was not my concern, I knew what I had to do and thatwas to finish on top of the podium," she said. "I finished fourth in Melbourne and I knew that was not going to happen today." 
 
Cayman Islands News, Cydonie MothersillSilver medallist Oyepitan, from England paid tribute to Mothersill’s speed.  "I wanted to have a go at Cydonie but she’s got the legs for it and I haven’t," admitted Oyepitan.
 
This is not only Cayman’s but Mothersill’s first gold at a major world competition and it comes when, at 32, the sprinter has found herself on the podium at numerous competitions this season.
 
The local athlete has secured three top podium places this year on the international track and field circuit. Her first victory came in Cork, Ireland (3 July), then in Rethynmo, Greece (7 July), followed by a win at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Mayaguez, Mexico (28 July). 

Cayman Islands News, Cydonie MothersillOn hearing the news yesterday Sports Minister Mark Scotland said, “We are all so tremendously proud of Cydonie. She is absolutely unstoppable this year – proof positive that perseverance can take one to the top.”

Other elite athletes at this year’s Commonwealth Games included Ronald Forbes, who came 7th in the 100m hurdles; Michael Letterlough who competed but did not place in the hammer throw event; and swimmer Shaune Fraser, who managed an 8th place in the 100m butterfly finals

 

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Paula reaches hurricane status near Cozumel

| 12/10/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Although the ninth hurricane of the Atlantic Hurricane Seasons poses no immediate threat to the Cayman Islands hurricane Paula will be bringing heavy rain to the area forecasters say. At 8am local time Paula was located about 276 miles south west of Grand Cayman with winds at the centre already at 75mph with higher gusts. The hurricane is moving at around 10mph the NHC said. Forecasters say a turn toward the north-northwest and north is expected later today. On the forecast track the centre of Paula will approach the east coast of the Yucatan peninsula tonight. A category one hurricane, Paula is set to increase in strength a little over the next two days.

 
Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 10 miles from the centre and storm force up to 60 miles. Paula is expected to produce heavy rain, flooding storm surge and high waves in the warning areas.
 
Hazard management said yesterday that the Cayman Islands national weather service will continue to monitor the storm and its predicted path which has the storm curving back around from Mexico towards Cuba over the next five days.
 
 

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