Archive for November 23rd, 2010

Local fund business boosted by major acquisition

| 23/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): As Cayman’s fund sector rebounds from a worrying trend of relocations the industry has received a further boost with the purchase by the world’s largest independent fund administrator of its competitor’s operations in the Cayman Islands. Wells Fargo has sold its Cayman Islands-based trust company to Citco for an undisclosed amount which the firm says will be integrated into it private client portfolio at its Cayman HQ. The news comes just after the most recent figures revealed that at the end of the third quarter funds in Cayman had surpassed 9500.


 

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Citco confident in Cayman

| 23/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Citco, the world’s largest independent fund administrator, has bought a competitor’s operation in the Cayman Islands showing confidence in the jurisdiction at a time when the country’s popularity is rebounding after a worrying trend of fund relocations. Wells Fargo has sold its Cayman Islands-based trust company to Citco for an undisclosed amount. The American bank’s portfolio will be integrated into Citco’s private client portfolio, the firm revealed, and serviced out of its Cayman Islands headquarters. Robert Thomas, managing director of Citco Trustees (Cayman) Limited, said the firm was pleased to have completed this strategic acquisition which he said would significantly expand and enhance Citco’s private client business in the jurisdiction.

“Our unique business model provides clients with access to the trustee services of highly trained and specialized legal professionals, as well as administrators. We look forward to working closely with our new clients to deliver the highest level of service,” Thomas added in a release from the firm.

Although Cayman saw a wave of funds relocating to jurisdictions such as Dublin and Luxembourg with fund registrations falling from 9,231 at the end of 2008 to 8,944 a year later, the trend is now reversing. Figures from CIMA this month showed that at the end of September mutual funds registered in the domicile had risen to 9,024 and all funds were at a promising high of 9,594.

Recently Mark Lewis managing partner at Walkers said registrations were are growing at some 60 funds a month (100 new against 40 closures). “We can be confident now that we are likely to see the high mark of 10,000 registered funds in Cayman passed again early next year,” Lewis told CNS.

The news of Citco’s purchase comes on the heels of news fromEurope that the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive will allow for the distribution of non-EU funds to professional investors in the EU through both a private-placement regime and a passport system. The private-placement regime, which has been the traditional method of distribution in the EU for non-EU funds, will remain in place at least until 2018. It is proposed that this regime will transition in 2015 to allow full access to an EU passport marketing regime to non-EU funds on the same terms as EU funds. EU funds will become eligible for a passport in 2013.

"The confirmation that non-EU fund managers will be able to continue marketing Cayman Islands, BVI and Jersey funds to professional European investors is excellent news for the industry," Rod Palmer, partner and Global Head of Investment Funds with Walkers said recently.

Despite perceptions that other jurisdictions may be safer Jennifer Thomson, partner said that Cayman had a long history of working with regulators worldwide and has a strong regulatory framework.
 

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Ministry breaks FOI law

| 23/11/2010 | 30 Comments

(CNS): The information commissioner recently made her first ruling over a government ministry that broke the Freedom of Information law after it failed to follow the proper process. The Ministry of Community Affairs, Gender and Housing made a decision not to handle an application made by CNS about the minister’s expenses and benefits as an FOI request and simply ignored it, replying in an unofficial email some 60 days after the FOI was submitted. In her ruling Jennifer Dilbert said the seriousness of this failing and the way the request was treated was “of paramount importance”. She said it represented a total disregard for the law and processes and a “trampling of an applicant’s rights” to have a request handled properly.

On 11 August CNS made an FOI request for a breakdown of expenses and benefits received by ministers over and above their official salary and benefits package and their MLA’s office allowance. With the exception of the information manager at the Health Ministry, who followed the letter of the law and responded fully well within all the deadlines, four of the ministries failed to comply with the ten day deadline to acknowledge the request and also missed the 30 day deadline to respond.

Following CNS’s attempts at chasing the various missing FOI requests, the information manager at the Community Affairs Ministry went a step further in disregarding the FOI law when she told CNS via email on 1 November that she had decided not to treat the application under that law at all, despite the fact that the request was headed as such. She said in her email, however, that she had found the minister did not receive any benefits.

Having copied the information commissioner in on the correspondence with the public authorities involved, Jennifer Dilbert began investigations into the request late October and found formally that the ministry had indeed contravened the law by answering the request outside its parameters.

The ministry told the commissioner that during FOI training managers learned that even if a request is marked as FOI it does not mean that it is to be treated as one and that is what the IM had decided to do. By ignoring the fact that this was a formal FOI request the ministry failed to correspond with CNS and then took 60 days to answer the question, and had only done so after prompting, well outside the law’s timeframe. The ministry also decided that the email was the end of the matter, despite not having provided proper reasons for not supplying the information, advising of the right to seek an Internal Review or to appeal to the Information Commissioner.

Dilbert said that several areas of the FOI law had been contravened by the public authority during the process and that the ministry had also suggested that the request was a vexatious one. However, the ICO found that CNS was merely requesting a response, as entitled under the law, and there was not sufficient evidence to support the claim of vexatiousness.

“The seriousness of this failing, and the treatment of a legitimate request in this matter, is of paramount importance,” Dilbert said in her ruling. “It represents a total disregard for the Law and processes, the objects of the Law, and a trampling of the Applicant’s rights to have a FOI request handled as required under the Law.”

Although IMs are encouraged in the regular training provided by the FOI Unit of Government, to not necessarily treat all request as FOIs, she explained this is when the entity intends to supply the information immediately in full. “However, in no way must this be interpreted to mean that a request can be handled in an arbitrary manner, with no regard for mandated timeframes and accountability as required under the FOI Law. FOI Unit training is clear in this regard,” Dilbert explained in the first ruling of its kind.

The PA failed to comply with sections 6(1), 7(3)(b), 7(4)(b) and 7(5) of the Freedom of Information Law, 2007 and regulation 21 of the Freedom of Information (General) Regulations.

“It is unconscionable, and in clear contravention of its statutory obligations … for a public authority to hide its records and information behind mere semantics,” the information commissioner said in her ruling. “A better course of action would be for a public authority to communicate at an early stage with the Applicant and assist in determining what information is sought, and which record would best document that information.”

Following this investigation the info boss also investigated the Ministry of Finance which had been sent the same FOI request regarding ministerial benefits and expenses on the same datebut had simply failed to acknowledge the request at all. On the 11 November Dilbert issued the Ministry of Finance, Tourism and Development with an order to respond to the FOI request within ten days. The public authority finally issued its response letter to CNS via email on Friday — 102 days after the request.

With four of the five ministries now having responded, District Administration remains the only public authority which has still not supplied a final response, although the ministry has been in correspondence with CNS and has requested more time.

Check back to CNS later this week for the details of the responses from the five ministries.
 

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Worlds biggest cruise ship wins by two inches

| 23/11/2010 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Royal Caribbean has outdone itself with the launch of an even bigger ship than the Oasis of the Seas. The largest cruise ship now afloat is her sister ship, Allure of the Seas, which is two inches bigger that the Oasis, according to a release from the cruise company. “The laser measurements said there was a difference of two inches,” said Royal Caribbean Cruises Executive Vice President of Maritime Harry Kulovaara. Besides being just a smidgen longer than Oasis, Allure also has some other features her sister does not including seven types of hot dogs at the Boardwalk doghouse, two specifically for New Yorkers. Although the ship will be cruising in both the eastern and western Caribbean Grand Cayman is not on the planned itinerary yet.

Constructed from 180 large steel blocks, the dimensions of Allure are staggering – carrying more than 6,200 passengers when fully booked. It has 50 elevators, an 18-foot deep pool and 56 trees growing in an area called Central Park.

The official naming ceremony for Allure of the Seas will take place on 28 November during a one-night inaugural fundraising cruise to benefit the United Way chapters of Miami-Dade and Broward counties and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Haiti Fund, among other charities.

The first paying guests will join Allure of the Seas on 1 December 2010 when the ship begins offering cruises in the Caribbean for the first time.

Allure of the Seas is 1,187 feet long it has 17 different bars, over 20 restaurants and cafes including the first Starbucks at sea, two rock climbing walls, two FlowRider surf simulators, a zip wire, the Broadway hit Chicago: The Musical, a 3D movie theater, DreamWorks Animation activities and shows and even an large amphitheatre outdoor AquaTheater for high diver performances and water shows.

 

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Overseas investors return to City of London

| 23/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(FT.Com): Overseas investors are moving back into the UK financial services sector, easing fears that London is losing its lustre as an international centre for the industry. Foreign-owned businesses accounted for 9.1 per cent of new authorisations by the Financial Services Authority in the first half of 2010, according to data compiled by IMAS corporate finance advisers. That is up 40 per cent from 2009, when foreign-owned companies accounted for 6.5 per cent of new authorisations, as financial services groups worldwide struggled in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The survey is likely to bolster claims that London remains a crucial centre for the financial services industry. This is in spite of a crackdown on banker’s pay and a 50 per cent top rate of personal income tax.

Go to Financial Times article
 

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Killers present grounds of appeal

| 23/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The two men accused of killing Estella Scott-Roberts, between them put nine grounds of appeal before the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal on Monday that they say make their convictions unsafe. Both men are appealing the murder convictions handed down to them by the Chief Justice, Anthony Smellie in February of this year. Kirkland Henry claims in his appeal case that the trial judge misdirected himself twice and erred in judgment four times in the ruling against him. Larry Ricketts, meanwhile, has suggested the judge got it wrong in his case on three different aspects. The two men were both represented by lead defence attorneys from the UK as the appeal opened on Monday morning. (Photo courtesy Cayman 27)

Ian Bourne QC, took the stand first to make the appeal for his client Henry who had pleaded guilty to rape, robbery and abduction but claimed that the murderer was his accomplice Ricketts and he had never contemplated or took part in the killing of Scott-Roberts.

In a full day of argument Bourne suggested that in his verdict against his client the chief justice had made several errors. He said the judge had failed to direct himself in the correct way when it came to the lies Henry had first told to the police about why he had Scott-Roberts’ phone before he admitted he was involved in the crime. Bourne suggested that the judge had concluded that because he lied about that Henry had also therefore lied about his claim that he had not been involved in the actual murder.

The defence attorney also said that the chief justice had not considered Henry’s previous good character before the night in question and there was no mention in his ruling that he gave any consideration to the fact that as someone who had not committed a crime before he could be capable of telling the truth.

Bourne went on to argue that judge had erred in his conclusions that Henry was guilty of murder because it was a joint criminal enterprise from which he did not withdraw. The UK defence counsel made the case that there was no evidence in the trial that Henry had entered into a joint enterprise where the intention was ever murder and that there was no evidence that his client was not being truthful when he said in his statement that he had withdrawn from the crime when Ricketts went to commit the act of murder.

As he had argued during the murder trial earlier this year Bourne once again said that his client had not contemplated the act of murder, had not committed it and had withdrawn from the crime when his accomplice killed their victim.

Bourne also argued that the judge was incorrect in his ruling when he concluded that Henry’s statement to the police was self serving. Bourne claimed that the account Henry gave of the crime was truthful, giving police information that they could not have known and was far from self serving but extremely incriminating when it came tot he rest of the crime.

Following the conclusion of Henry’s appeal against the murder conviction Robert Fortune QC will argue the case for his client Ricketts tomorrow morning (Tuesday 22 November). Fortune, whose client denied being at the scene is expected to argue that again the chief justice has not considered the possibility that his client could have been telling the truth on the basis that he had no previous convictions. He will also raise the issue that the judge has not given due consideration to Rickets claim that the interview given to police was not a voluntary statement made by the defendant but one that the police concocted. Fortune is expected to argue on his third ground that the judge also failed to consider cell phone evidence that suggests Ricketts could not have been where the crown claim he was.
Following the submissions by the two defence QCs, the solicitor general, Cheryl Richards QC will offer her submissions in defence of the conviction before the three appeal court judges will had down their verdict on the safety or otherwise of the convictions.

 

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Government hires workers for Christmas clean-up

| 23/11/2010 | 61 Comments

(CNS): Despite the major cuts being ordered across most public sector departments the government will be paying temporary workers to conduct another Christmas clean-up. Some 800 people are expected to be given work over the next four weeks cleaning up public areas and road sides. The project begins on Wednesday after government has reportedly found and earmarked $1million in funding to give the unemployed work and clean up the island for the holiday period. Back bench government MLA Elio Solomon told Cayman 27 that the majority of districts would be part of the clean up and the focus would be mostly on the coastal areas.

The four weeks of work given to the unemployed for the Christmas clean up will end on 17 December but Solomon has statedthat he is looking for further funding to do another clean up in the new year.
As was the case during last year’s clean up many people showed up for the selection on Monday morning but not all of them got work.

See Cayman 27 video
 

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Switzerland eyes benefits from Ireland’s troubles

| 23/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(Swiss info): With Ireland coming under increasing pressure to raise corporate taxes, Swiss cantons are eyeing the opportunity of seizing a greater share of company relocations. The debt-stricken republic has rejected calls from France and Germany to increase company income tax in return for a European Union bail-out, but some believe the former Celtic Tiger may have lost too many teeth to resist. Ireland’s current economic woes spring from the dramatic collapse of its housing market since 2008, landing its banks with bad debt. A government bank bail-out left holes in national accounts and the country in need of an emergency cash injection.

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