Archive for November 26th, 2010

$50k for robbers’ arrest

| 26/11/2010 | 20 Comments

(CNS): Cayman Crime Stoppers and Butterfield Bank (Cayman) are offering a reward of up to US$50,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the armed robbery of the Compass Centre branch of the Butterfield Bank on this week, the RCIPS have announced. The information must be disclosed or passed before 31 December. On the day of the robbery police arrested a 17-year-old male from the West Bay area in connection with the incident. He is still in custody and the extensive enquiries continue.

At 11:20am on Wednesday, 24 November, three masked men entered the bank and threatened staff and customers with what appeared to be a handgun, which was discharged into the ceiling. The suspects made off from the premises with an undisclosed sum of cash. An extensive police search, roadblocks and the air operations unit were all involved in the subsequent hunt for the offenders. No one was injured in the incident but one member of staff was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.

The CID launched an immediate investigation and a team of officers have been working tirelessly with witnesses and forensic teams. The three suspects are described as having dark complexions and wearing dark clothing. They had their faces covered by Halloween masks, one ofwhich was described as being of President Obama.

Butterfield Executive Vice President, Caribbean, Conor O`Dea states, ” We would like to stress that crimes targeting the safety and security of our customers and staff will not be tolerated. We are working with the Chamber of Commerce and Crime Stoppers to send a clear message to the community that, as an organization, we stand together on this”

The reward acts to strengthen efforts to apprehend the offenders and anyone who has any information about this robbery should call the CID at George Town police station on 949 4222 or the confidential crime stoppers number 800-8477(TIPS)
 

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Gun runner gets 9 years

| 26/11/2010 | 21 Comments

(CNS):Having pleaded guilty three days into his trial for the importation of firearms, Joseph Hurlston was handed a 9 year prison sentence in the Grand Court this morning by Justice Smith. Despite Hurlston’s guilty plea, which brought the statutory minimum sentence on a firearms offence from ten years down to seven, the judge noted that there were aggravating factors and said time must be tacked on. He pointed to the number of weapons that Hurlston had attempted to bring in and that fact that his guilty plea came so late in the day. (Photo courtesy of Cayman27)

Justice Smith said he did not feel that Hurlston’s claim by his defence counsel that the three guns were bought for his own protection because of a murder that had taken place in his yard was a mitigating factor. 

The judge noted that if Hurlston had wanted a weapon for safety reasons there were provisions for him to apply for a license. The defendant, he said, had imported three handguns and ammunition as well as waiting until the crown had almost closed its case against him before he admitted his guilt. The judge said that he agreed with the crown counsel that the seven year minimum sentence had to be reserved for cases where the defendant had no previous convictions, where there was only one weapon was involved and where the guilty plea was entered at the earliest opportunity.

“I believe an appropriate sentence in this case is nine years,” the the judge said, adding that time already served by the defendant should be taken into account.

Hurlston has been in custody since his arrest in April of this year in East End. The 27-year-old from West Bay admitted going to Jamaica, where he bought three hand guns for $3000, in the wake of a murder which took place in his yard, followed by fire at the property that destroyed his home and which he believed was deliberately set.

The defendant said that, fearing for his life, he had decided to get the guns for protection. He returned from Jamaica via canoe and when he and others were offloaded onto a smaller boat close to Grand Cayman’s East End, the boat took on water and began to sink. Hurlston lost his backpack, which contained two of the guns he had bought, as well as his passport, wallet, drivers license and some drugs, overboard as he tried to save his own life.

Soon after he came ashore with another man in East End in the early hours of the morning of 20 April, they were both spotted by police offers on patrol in the area. When they both fled, the police gave chase, and although Hurlston tried to discard the one remaining firearm as he ran away, the officers recovered the gun from the beach and apprehended him.

Marine patrol officers also searched the area near the East End channel where the boat had capsized and recovered Hurlston’s backpack, the guns, drugs and ID.

During his sentencing hearing last week it was revealed that Hurlston’s yard was the scene of a fatal gang shooting in West Bay last year, in which Marcus Ebanks was killed and Adryan Powell was seriously injured. Raziel Jeffers has now been charged with the Ebanks’ murder and the attempted murder of Powell.

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Earthquake shakes things up in early hours

| 26/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A small earthquake measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale shook things up near the Cayman Islands early this morning. The quake occurred a little after 1:00am with an epicentre some 35 miles SSW of George Town, Grand Cayman (18.859°N, 81.588°W). The USGS earthquake centre stated that it occurred at a depth of around 6 miles. The Cayman Islands Hazard Management confirmed that there have been no reports of damage and the USGS said there was no tsunami threat. Although Cayman experiences quakes from time to time the last time the earth moved notably was in January when a number of sinkholes also appeared in the South Sound area.

Go to USGS site

 

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Farmers get new location to do business

| 26/11/2010 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Although Cayman imports nearly all of the food it consumes there are still a number of local farmers and food producers who are offering the public an alternative to imports with fresh local produce. Aside from the government sponsored weekend market at the Agricultural centre and the occasional guest appearance at Camana Bay finding outlets to sell their goods is a battle for many small producers. However, a new weekly market has now emerged on Godfrey Nixon Way, George Town. The Reflections Fresh Market started on 5 November and takes place beside the Reflections store every Friday from 3pm until 6:30pm.

By supporting local farmers, the team at Reflections said they were promoting the benefits of buying local and eating fresh health food.As well as locally gown fruits and vegetables, locally prepared preserves and juices shoppers, fish and fritters shoppers can also find crafts and plants as well.

 

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IMF wants more access to financial services data

| 26/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(Bloomberg): International Monetary Fund staff members said they need access to more data to determine the interconnection among financial institutions, as the fund seeks to help avoid a repeat of the global crisis. In a report released yesterday today, IMF staff said that about 20 key “large and complex financial institutions” can be identified as being at the centre of the global system. Still, there’s no “holistic” picture of their activities and of how funds flow across borders because of limited access to data on some issues, it said. “There are significant data gaps that preclude the completion of a comprehensive risk map — gaps that can only be bridged with buy-in from the membership on the value of such an exercise,” IMF economists said in the report.

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Go to report
 

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Investment bureau boss gets top ministry post

| 26/11/2010 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Government has now made the official announcement that Dr Dax Basdeo was appointed as Chief Officer, Financial Services, in the Ministry of Finance, Tourism and Development some time ago. A release from government said the deputy governor had appointed the head of the department of commerce and investment into this new post which he took up on 1 October. The post was created as a result of changes to ministry responsibilities resulting from the creation of a Minister of Finance under the new constitution. Twenty three persons applied for the job as part of an open recruitment process and four candidates were interviewed by a selection panel.

 Basdeo said of his new job, “I look forward to the challenges of this new position and the opportunity to continue to develop policies that will enhance the sustainable economic development of these islands.”

The panel which included Donovan Ebanks, the deputy governor was chaired by Senior civil servant Peter Gough, Nick Freeland from PricewaterhouseCoopers, Paul Byles and Kenneth Jefferson the financial secretary. “It is particularly pleasing to see a young Caymanian rising through the ranks to achieve one of the most senior positions in Government,” said Ebanks .

Basdeo holds a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and statistics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, an MBA from the University of Manchester and a PhD in strategic management from the University of Maryland. A published author, Basdeo has also conducted research involving US businesses, with research teams at various academic institutions. He began his career in the civil service in 1995 as an economist. In 2004, he assumed responsibility for the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau (now the Department of Commerce & Investment) and devised policies and programmes supporting inward investment and economic diversification, small business development and provision of advisory services for international investors.

Basdeo currently has responsibility for a broad range of departments and authorities within the Ministry of Finance, covering such key areas as financial services policy, economic development and international relations. Specific functions under Dr Basdeo’s leadership include: the Department of Commerce & Investment; the Financial Services Secretariat; the Cayman Islands London Office; the General Registry, and; the Tax Information Authority.
 

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Clearing the air

| 26/11/2010 | 7 Comments

Please allow me the opportunity to clarify some points related to my tenure on the work permit board; recently there has been information put in the press that may have been misinterpreted. News outlets on the island should do more investigating before writing articles that paint the wrong picture.

I wish words like “conflicts of interest” wouldn’t be used so loosely in the public domain, leaving news articles open to interpretation by the reader is wrongand this style of journalism gives the general public the wrong impression and it’s the main reason I’ve decided to publicly clear the air on my departure from the work permits board.

It’s not my MO to point fingers and accuse and I won’t do it in this forum, but I would have hoped the government officials who reported I was no longer on the board would have used words less contentious when making this announcement – reasonable notice would have also been appreciated, I was advised of my departure on November 18, one (1) day before the news officially broke on November 19.

The conflict I was advised was that my attendance was being hindered by my fulltime job, I accepted that my other work commitments just didn’t allow me to continue to attend as before, so please don’t be misled with comments like “members not towing the line” & “certain individuals appointed not following the wishes of the administration”, we towed the line and like any new board we experienced numerous setbacks that didn’t allow us to do our work in the most efficient way.

Anyhow we managed to overcome those stumbling blocks and carried out the wishes of the Caymanian people to the best of our abilities collectively, in the process we created a new chapter. Our actions and the present internal changes in the work permits process speak volumes to our achievements.

Following the law as set out was our way of doing business, its unfortunate some of the public choose to draw conclusions based on a few lines written in the press, these comments are simply not the case and are far from the truth.

One local paper on Monday, November 22 suggested that the board "struggled to clear the backlog"; this again isn’t true as the board took “unprecedented steps” during my time there to clear the backlog which was in the thousands.

The new board has a strong foundation to stand on that hasn’t been seen in years and I hope and pray it continues to keep everyone accountable in immigration from the bottom straight to the top.

I will close now by saying to the people of the Cayman Islands, it was indeed a pleasure to have served over the last fifteen months, and my time on the board was a priceless experience.
It’s now my hope and I publicly challenge the new board to continue the fruitful works that has begun so immigration becomes a government institution we all can be proud of.
 

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Law changed on old accounts

| 26/11/2010 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Following the concerns raised by the financial services sector regarding the Dormant Accounts Law 2010 which government passed in July, amendments have now been made as a result of the issues raised by the sector. Government has now increased the dormancy period from 6 years to 7 years as well as the period of time which government will hold the funds in trust and has limited the scope of the type of financial institutions that will fall under the law as well as clarifying the notification requirements. Speaking in the Legislative Assembly this week the premier said the industry had made justifiable arguments for the changes as the law, designed to allow government to seize only abandoned cash was seen as too broad.

According to the industry the first version of the law captured instruments being used as part of long-term commercial transactions and experts argued that this was problematic for the trust industry. The original dormancy period of 6 years was also viewed as too short by international comparison.

The Financial Services Legislative Committee (FSLC) established a sub committee to work on changes to the law following the concerns raised by the finance sector stakeholders. As a result the new law now limits the scope of the financial institutions to only include Class ‘A’ insurers; Banks, credit unions and building societies; trust companies established specifically to deal with dormant accounts from banks that were closed; and any other type of financial institution which is declared relevant by the Cabinet.

The increase in the dormancy period by one year brings Cayman in line with the time frames of the Bahamas and the BVI. However, most European countries use a dormancy period of between 12 and 15 years and some industry players had asked for at least ten years.

The removal of the reference to the Limitations Law, and instead reference the Public Management and Finance Law (2010 Revision) now provides that monies transferred to government will be held in trust for an additional six years. Further clarity on the notification requirements that account providers will have to implement has also been given in the amended law.

“These amendments clarify several issues that would allow these institutions to be in compliance with the original intent of the law – the transfer of monies held in abandoned accounts to the government,” the premier said as he presented the amendments to the LA. He said the changes focus on the concept of abandoned property and provide for a more limited scope,minimising unintended consequences.

“It is unfortunate that several unanticipated difficulties arose in the initial law that was passed,” he added. “It was not as a result of lack of effort on the part of my ministry to ensure that private sector concerns were adequately addressed. We have been open and transparent in this process with the financial industry and will continue to do so to ensure the success of this industry.”

With greater clarity the premier said he believed investors, clients and international stakeholders would be assured as a result of the.

See amended law

 

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Former Republican guilty of money laundering

| 26/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(Reuters): A Texas jury found former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, dubbed "The Hammer" for his hard-driving style, guilty of money laundering and conspiracy on Wednesday. DeLay was accused of conspiring to illegally funnel $190,000 in corporate campaign donations to Republican candidates for the Texas Legislature in the 2002 elections."The public officials people elect to represent them must do so honestly and ethically and if not, they will be held accountable," said Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. DeLay, 63, faces five to 99 years in prison for the money- laundering conviction and two to 20 years for a conspiracy count as well, plus fines.

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CI has employability problem

| 26/11/2010 | 116 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands has a problem with employability and not unemployment, according to the labour minister. Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday afternoon, Rolston Anglin said that too many people lacked the necessary skills to get work and until government addressed that issue the country would never be able to tackle the problem of unemployment. He said that while there certainly were too many people who were employable currently out of work because of the economic circumstances, far more were simply unemployable. Promising more targeted programmes, he said his ministry was aiming to up the skill levels of the country’s work force.

“Cayman has an employability issue not an unemployment issue,” Anglin said. We have to be bluntly honest … andunless we address that we will never address unemployment.”

He said there was a need for what he called high impact training programmes that would deliver the skills to people that they needed to get jobs, and the ministry was investing some $200,000 to deliver the technology training at UCCI.

The minster warned that the programmes had to work, and while he was rolling out pilot projects, he wanted to make sure the courses would result in people getting the skills that the job market wanted.

Lauding the recent Passport2Success programme, which is currently focused on getting young people into the job market by giving them the necessary skills and tools to not only find a job but keep it, Anglin said there would be additional work placement schemes being rolled out over the coming months. The minster also spoke about the need to separate the labour and pension issues from human capital development, which would focus on this concept of making people employable.

“For too long we have been setting our people up for failure,” he told his legislative colleagues during the Strategic Policy Statement debate as he announced that his ministry was developing legislation to deal with the issue.

In the government’s SPS document unemployment figures are predicted to begin falling this year from the 2009 high of 6% to 5.8%, and with modest growth in the GDP it is expected to fall below 5% in 2011. For the period of this financial year 2010/11 the average rate is estimated to be around 5.4%.

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