Archive for January 7th, 2011

Motor and General turns into SaxonMG

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(CNS): The acquisition of Cayman’s oldest insurance firm Motor & General by local business conglomerate dms Organization Ltd is now official and the firm is asking all policy holders to sign new agreements with the new owners. The firm announced in October that it had bought the troubled company and subject to approval by CIMA it would join the dms family by the end of 2010. Motor & General Insurance will now operate under the name Saxon Motor & General Insurance Company Ltd. (SaxonMG). “Clients’ current annual premiums and renewal dates will remain unchanged, but it is imperative that the transfer to SaxonMG is affected in order to ensure continued motor insurance coverage,” the firm said on Friday.

Motor and General ran into problems last year when the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) suspended trading of the parent company, following protracted financial difficulties for the firm there. CIMA appointed controllers of the Cayman business to protect local policy holders and the assets of the company’s Cayman Islands operation which was a profitable entity.

As the only wholly Caymanian owned insurance company, the firm stated that SaxonMG will always act in the best interest of its local customers and every dollar spent on car insurance will be reinvested in the local economy.

Last year dms president Don Seymour revealed that there had been an intense bidding war for the firm and his company had to pay a substantial premium to win it, but he said the company was a strong performer that was well capitalised.

Now that it is under the dms umbrella the firm said all policyholders need to sign a new agreement by Tuesday 15 February to ensure continued coverage and is urging policyholders to visit the office at earliest convenience. A signed copy of consent to SaxonMG assuming all of Motor & General’s rights and obligations in respect to each client’s insurance policy is required by 4:30pm 15 February or they will be deemed to have chosen to cancel their insurance policy, with cancellation taking effect at 11:59pm on 28 February.

“We are pleased to officially merge our teams and look forward to working together to further strengthen the solid reputation of the company. There will be no changes to current staff or services provided to existing clients of the company,” said Brian Williams, CEO of SaxonMG. “We urge our valued clients to drop by to sign their agreement in our name to ensure continued motor insurance coverage.”

He said it was the firm’s mission to continue delivering low-cost auto insurance to all consumers, with prompt personalized service.

“We look forward to establishing new standards for our consumer experience, building further on the already existing loyal client base. With a long-standing commitment to our country and our people, we are dedicated to contributing to Cayman’s economy, stimulating job creation and building a stronger community. SaxonMG has a lot to offer in terms of community outreach and support as well as our professional services,” Williams added.

 

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American States’ coffers hit by slide in lottery sales

| 07/01/2011 | 0 Comments

(Bloomberg): Even the lure of multimillion-dollar jackpots hasn’t been a sure bet for cash-strapped U.S. states to keep lottery revenue on the rise. Income from lottery-ticket sales in fiscal year 2009 fell to $52.3 billion, a 0.9 percent drop from the previous year, according to data released by the Census Burea. It was the first decline since 1998 and cut profits by $511 million from a year earlier to $17.7 billion, leaving states with less cash to balance budgets and aid cities and towns. “There was a myth out there that lotteries are recession- proof,” said Gordon Medenica, director of the New York state lottery, the largestin the U.S. “They’re really similar to any other entertainment industry. When times are bad we feel it as well in our results,” he added.

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DoE voiced port concerns

| 07/01/2011 | 37 Comments

(CNS): The potential impact on the East End water lens, the loss of marine and terrestrial environmental resources and future environmental dangers and hazards are just a few of the key concerns raised by officials from the Department of Environment regarding the proposed commercial seaport in the High Rock area of East End. DoE director Gina Ebanks-Petrie confirmed that the developer, Joseph Imparato, and his team have discussed his proposed project with them and that an ad hoc environmental impact assessment group was formed in partnership with the DoE and other relevant agencies to review the terms of reference for the EIA. Ebanks-Petrie said that while the group’s comments have been submitted, in the absence of a National Conservation Law what process both the approval of the ToRs and the actual EIA will follow is not clear.

The environment boss said that staff from the DoE, the National Roads Authority, planning and the Water Authority met with Imparato’s team and the EIA consultants to offer their comments on the key issues that the assessment must consider.

“It was agreed that the draft ToRs would be reviewed and commented on by the EIA group. This has been done and we are awaiting feedback from the consultants,” Ebanks-Petrie told CNS this week. “Of course, in the absence of any legislated EIA process and procedure, such as envisaged in the draft NCL, the process for approval of the Terms of Reference and the process that the actual EIA will follow are not clear at this stage.”

She explained that the primary concerns covered five main areas. Firstly, the issues relating to the potential impact of the excavation of the proposed inland basin on the East End water lens is a concern which has been raised by a number of the local residents in the area. It is also one of the issues worrying the two local MLA’s in East End and North Side. At a number of public meetings it has been suggested that this natural fresh water source could be contaminated by the excavation.

Ebanks-Petrie also noted the general loss of significant environmental resources, both marine and terrestrial, as a result of the excavation of the access channel and construction of the breakwater/groyne, as well as the excavation of the inland basin. She added that this included both direct impacts and indirect impacts from sedimentation.

The director further noted that the possible environmental impacts associated with the proposed uses of the facility once constructed also had to be considered. “These range from potential spillage of oils to impacts associated with the construction of new roads,” she noted.

The socio-economic issues surrounding the impacts of the project on existing livelihoods are also important, Petrie-Ebanks observed, including the impact on subsistence farming, as well as the local water sports industry, among others. She said the assessment had to consider and identify the socio-economic costs, including environmental costs and how any benefits of the project would be distributed.

She said in the final analysis it would be the environmental impact assessment that would reveal the real extent of the risk this project proposes to the area’s natural resources.

The area is home to a number of the Cayman Islands’ indigenous flora and fauna as well as a number of red listed and endangered species. The country’s national tree, the Silver Thatch palm and, the national flower, the banana orchid, both endangered, are found in the area.

In general, the response from the people in the eastern districts likely to be impacted by the project has been unsupportive. Both Arden McLean and Ezzard Miller have presided over public meetings where sentiment against the development ran high. Since then, the two politicians have launched a petition against the proposed port in their districts, which will be going nationwide over the next weeks, the MLAs have confirmed as they call on the people of Cayman to proclaim their opposition to the project.

Both men have accused the developer of using the port proposal as a cover for his intended purpose, which is to quarry and sell the fill on the land he owns in the area to make what is expected to be a significant profit.

Miller said that rather than offering a proper business plan, the “often controversial investor”, having bought large tracts of essentially useless land, has now decided he can make money by quarrying the rock and shipping it overseas. The North side MLA said, having seen the plans, he estimated there was as much as half a billion dollars worth of fill to be gained, given the depth of the basin the developer proposesto dig. “He is then going to donate that hole in the ground to government to turn into a port,” Miller added. “I don’t think that is the way we should be developing our infrastructure. Moreover, Grand Cayman is not that big of a land mass that we can afford to add a piece of it to Texas.”

Imparato held a press conference to promote the development and answer questions from the media. However, CNS was not invited and therefore was unable to pose any questions to the developer regarding the myriad environmental issues concerning his proposal. Although we have contacted the agency which organised the briefing asking why we were not asked to attend, we have yet to receive a response.

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Visit the developer’s website at www.eastendseaport.com
 

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Wine merchants support Blues during Cookout

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(CNS): A charity wine, dinner and auction next week during Cayman Cookout will benefit the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme (BIRP) and a culinary school scholarship programme, which will help an aspiring Caymanian chef. Sponsored by the National Trust for the Cayman Islands and Jacques Scott Limited, the event will be held on Thursday, 13 January, at 7:00pm at 7 Prime Cuts and Sunsets at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. BIRP grew from a small project started within the National Trust for the Cayman Islands in 1990. A breath away from extinction the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana became the most endangered Iguana on Earth.

In 2002 there were an estimated number of 10 to 25 wild blue iguanas in existence and by 2005 the breed considered functionally extinct. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of BIRP, there are now approximately 500 iguanas in the wild, a number that with adequate funding will continue to grow, preserving these “blue dragons” for generations to come.

This is the third consecutive year that the Jacques Scott Wine Auction and Dinner has benefited the local National Trust. Last year the Wine Auction raised over US$20,000 and the proceeds benefited the restoration of the Eldermire House, a National Trust historic property in Cayman Brac.

“The National Trust is pleased to be working with Jacques Scott and The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman again this year for Cayman Cookout,” said Frank Balderamos, General Manager of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands. “We are extremely thankful for the exposure this event generates and hope that it is successful again this year.” 

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Ex-UK politician jailed over expenses swindle

| 07/01/2011 | 0 Comments

(Bloomberg): Former Labour Party UK MP David Chaytor has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for filing fraudulent expenses while serving in the British Parliament, becoming the first politician to be punished by a court in the scandal over reimbursements. Chaytor, 61, was sentenced at a hearing at Southwark Crown Court in London on Friday. He pleaded guilty last month after previously denying the charges. “The public are entitled to expect the people who legislate for the public will themselves be honest in their dealings with the state and in particular with their use of public funds,” Judge John Saunders said. “The whole expenses scandal has shaken public confidence in our legislature.”

Chaytor was charged with three counts of false accounting according to the indictment. Chaytor was accused of improperly claiming: 1,950 pounds ($3,025) for information-technology services in May 2006 using false invoices; 12,925 pounds for renting a property he owned in London between September 2005 and September 2006; and 5,425 pounds purportedly for renting a property from his mother.

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‘Crocodile Dundee’ sues officials over tax probe

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(Daily Telegraph): Paul Hogan, star of the ‘Crocodile Dundee’ movies is planning to sue the Australian government for over £50 million for damaging his reputation in a tax investigation. The Australian actor rose to world fame after he appeared in the 1986 film Crocodile Dundee, which became one of Australia’s most successful films of all time. After the Australian Crime Commission became suspicious that he was using offshore tax havens to conceal his wealth, however, he was subjected to a five-year tax investigation which was only dropped last November. Now, Hogan’s lawyer Andrew Robinson has said that his client is planning to sue the Australian government for up to $80 million for loss of earnings.

”His earning potential and reputation has been decimated in the international community and it has had that level of effect on his position,” he said.

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Trial delayed for Stanford to get drug treatment

| 07/01/2011 | 0 Comments

(Bloomberg): Texas financier Allen Stanford won’t go to trial on charges he led a $7 billion investment fraud until after he receives care for a prescription-drug addiction, a federal judge ruled. “Nothing can be done until the medical aspect is cleared up,” US District Judge David Hittner in Houston told defence lawyers and federal prosecutors yesterday after an almost eight- hour hearing on Stanford’s mental competency. Three psychiatrists, one working for the government and two working for the defence, testified that Stanford’s dependency on prescription anti-anxiety medication and the after-effects of a head injury he sustained in a jailhouse beating left him unfit for the trial scheduled to start 24 January.

Stanford, 60, is accused of leading a scheme centred on the sale of certificates of deposit by Antigua-based Stanford International Bank Ltd. Stanford, indicted on 21 criminal counts in June 2009, has denied wrongdoing.

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Freak accident in Cayman undermines golfer’s game

| 07/01/2011 | 0 Comments

(Desmoinesregister.com): A freak accident nearly forced Iowan Zach Johnson to withdraw from the season opening Tournament of Champions in Kalapua, Hawaii, on Thursday. The Cedar Rapids Regis and Drake graduate tore the toenail off the big toe of his right foot when he tripped on a step this past weekend while in the Cayman Islands. In an interview with the Golf Channel, Johnson said the injury occurred as he ran up the steps “trying to save my family from a fire in a garbage can. It hurt so bad.” Johnson shot a 2-under-par 71 Thursday, thanks to a wardrobe adjustment. The 2007 Masters champion cut a hole in his right golf shoe to take pressure off the toe, then wrapped the shoe with a plastic bag to keep his foot dry since the Plantation Course received plenty of early rain.

The injury did affect Johnson’s distance off the tee. “I lost about 40 yards,” Johnson said.

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Pedestrian struck by car

| 07/01/2011 | 50 Comments

(CNS): A 24-year-old female pedestrian was hit by a passing car on Thursday evening at around 6pm as she walked along the Newlands East West arterial by-pass. The woman, although seriously injured, survived the incident and is currently in hospital. She is believed to have sustained a broken collar bone, a broken arm and head injuries. Police said that a Mazda Atenza apparently lost control and collided with the woman, who was walking on the side of the road. Senior accident investigators attended the scene and an investigation is underway by the Traffic Management Unit. The female driver of the car, who was also aged 24, was uninjured. The incident comes days after senior police officers had warned that accidents on Cayman’s roads were exceptionally high. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

On Tuesday, following the end of Operation Rotate, the police seasonal road safety campaign, Chief Inspector Angelique Howell had stated that she had real concerns about the number of collisions and smashes on Cayman’s roads after almost 300 incidents during the six weeks.

“For a country the size of the Cayman Islands 298 collisions in six weeks is a terrible figure and clearly demonstrates the lack of care and attention paid by many people on our roads," she said. "The RCIPS intends to work closely with our partner agencies to develop a national road safety strategy – as it’s clear that much more needs to be done by all agencies involved in road safety to address this issue.”

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Top cops were on duty at Kittiwake sinking

| 07/01/2011 | 52 Comments

(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has confirmed that its senior officers were on duty when marine vessels and the helicopter attended the sinking of the Kittiwake off Seven Mile Beach on Wednesday morning. A number of senior police officers were spotted close to the sinking aboard one of the Marine Unit boats and the police helicopter was present throughout the event. A police spokesperson said senior officers from Silver command aboard the Tornado were on active duty during the sinking itself, as well as familiarizing themselves with the location of the Kittiwake for future security and safety operations. (Top cops Chief Inspector Richard Burrows, Chief Superintendent John Jones and Detective Chief Inspector Peter Kennett aboard the Tornado  – Photos by Dennie Warren Jr)

The police were there, officials revealed, not only to police the exclusion zone but to ensure the safety and security of the operation.

“The RCIPS did have an official role in relation to the security and safety of the operation and would have been responsible for co-ordinating an emergency response to any mishap,” the RCIPS spokesperson told CNS. She explained that the service would retain ongoing responsibility in relation to any possible future diving incidents and therefore had to acquaint themselves with the layout of the vessel for rescue purposes.

“The sinking of the vessel certainly carried an element of risk and it was necessary to police an exclusion zone until the ship came to rest on the ocean floor. We are pleased to say that the operation passed off without incident and ask that those planning to dive or snorkel around the wreck follow CITA rules published on their website.”

The police spokesperson confirmed that Chief Superintendent, Head of Operations John Jones was aboard the marine vessel, together with two chief inspectors who carry silver command responsibilities for emergency situations. There were no other senior officers on board.

(The RCIPS helicopter joins Cayman Helicopters in the sky over the sinking –  Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

Meanwhile, over at the Spotts Dock area the Marine Unit was involved in a rescue operation following a distress call. A boat was drifting out to sea with one soul on board and The Guardian assisted in ensuring the boat was taken to shore safely, police confirmed.

 

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