Archive for January 19th, 2011

Dart buys 7MB hotel

| 19/01/2011 | 77 Comments

(CNS): Despite denying that the company had purchased the Courtyard Marriott to CNS on 6 January, Dart Realty announced on Wednesday afternoon (19 January) that it that it had in fact bought the derelict hotel. At a groundbreaking ceremony for Camana Bay’s latest commercial building officials from the company revealed that the group had not only purchased the West Bay Road hotel but had also purchased the 232 acres of land formerly held by developer Stan Thomas. Although officials did not reveal any specific plans for the hotel and the land, Jim Lammers, Managing Director of Dart Realty and a director of Dart Enterprises, said the property presented a great opportunity for development.

Less than two weeks ago CNS contacted the communications manager at Dart Enterprizes and asked if Dart had purchased the hotel and the land and if so what plans were afoot for the property. However, the communications manager said that Dart had not bought the hotel or the land.

The future of the hotel had been in question for some time as it has been deserted since Hurricane Paloma in November 2008, when the former owners said it was being closed because of damage incurred during the storm, although the reason was disputed by many when the staff were soon laid off and the beach front bar was also closed.

Together with the derelict former Hyatt, the loss of the Courtyard Marriott represented a significant reduction in the number of beds on island and raised further concerns in the tourism sector of the poor impression the property gave, given its prominent position on the Seven Mile Beach stretch.

It is not yet clear whether Dart intends to re-vamp the hotel in its current position or whether it will be looking to tear the property down and start again.

When he owned the property, Thomas had reportedly asked the government to move the West Bay Road so that the hotel would not be dissected from the beach but it is understood that the previous administration had refused the request. It remains to be seen if Dart will be making the same request of the current government.

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Cayman downgraded in insurer’s risk assessment

| 19/01/2011 | 9 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands is one of 19 countries that have been downgraded in an annual review of political and economic risks. Aon Corporation, a leading international provider of risk management services, insurance and reinsurance brokerage, has lowered the country’s rating from a low-risk jurisdiction to medium low-risk in its 2011 Political Risk Map. Cayman was downgraded along with other Caribbean countries and territories, including Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Dominica, Grenada, Antilles, St Vincent, Trinidad, St. Lucia and St. Kitts & Nevis “due to tighter global credit conditions which could lead to an increase in sovereign non-payment risk”, Aon said.

Beverley Marsden, associate director of Aon Risk Solutions’ Crisis Management Practice, said, “The perceived or actual risk of sovereign non-payment continues to be an issue in countries across the globe. For example, we have seen 13 island nations move into a higher risk category this year because of the effect of a decline in tourism on their economy.”

Aon’s Political Risk Map ranks countries on a six-point scale, from low risk to very high risk, and although the nineteen countries were downgraded, eleven countries were upgraded.

"Globalization has been blamed for recent incidents of economic volatility, but it has also had a positive impact on global political and economic stability. Many countries previously designated as medium high or high have taken advantage of global trade links and have seen political risk levels decrease,” Marsden added.

Go to Aon’s political map

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Whistleblower re-arrested over new leaks

| 19/01/2011 | 11 Comments

(CNS): Following his conviction on Wednesday for breaching Swiss secrecy laws, former banker and employee of Julius Baer, Rudolph Elmer, has been re-arrested on newcharges of breaking the country’s secrecy laws by passing on new material to the WikiLeaks founder, Jullian Assange, in London at a press conference on Monday, 16 January. The whistleblower was arrested hours after being found guilty of breaching another bank secrecy law by a Zurich court and fined over $6,000, as well as being found guilty of threatening an employee at his former bank. Swiss authorities, who have 48 hours to hold him in custody, are expected to question Elmer today in connection with the latest leak.

The documents that Elmer is said to have stolen and then leaked relate to his time as head of operations for the Swiss bank at its subsidiary in the Cayman Islands. Elmer first leaked private bank details about Baer clients to WikiLeaks three years ago. Assange said he will publish the new information within weeks, once it has been checked.

Go to BBC article

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Minister says commitment on vocational training met

| 19/01/2011 | 6 Comments

(CNS): The opening of the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre has honoured the United Democratic Party’s commitment to delivering vocational education, Rolston Anglin the minister for education has stated. The centre which is located at the George Hicks high school campus is home to the first of Cayman’s year twelve students who are now in the extra compulsory year which was added as part of the education reforms introduced by the previous minister. The centre offers opportunities for academic students to do the advanced placement programme to gain a place in college or university, as well as students who want to do exam re-sits but it is also offering BTEC qualifications to ease many students into the world of work.

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly last week Anglin said that for the first time in over thirty years of government promises his ministry had delivered appropriate and internationally recognised technical and vocational education and training for the young people of Cayman.

The vocational training is provided through the UK’s Business and Education Technology Council known as BTEC and since September Anglin said that students have been following courses in business, IT, motor vehicle maintenance, creative media, hospitality and sports and leisure. All the vocational courses require two days a week work placement and places he said have now been found for the students despite the high take up.

“All of the 250 students on vocational courses are on work placements,” he told the members. “I am pleased to report that in some subjects nearly 50 percent of the students are on track with their vocational course to achieve the BTEC diplomas (equivalent of 4 level 2 CXC/ GCSE passes) by June…the rest are on track to obtain the BTEC certificate (equal to 2 level 2 CXC/ GCSE passes)”

He said regular monitoring was showing that all but a handful of students were embracing the opportunities offered to them but the handful of students. He said the students who had difficulties because of health or emotional and behavioural issues were being accommodated on a level 1 CIFEC programme called introductory vocational studies which he said the centre would be offering as a standard programme from next September.

“These programmes are about providing the critical bridge to success for students of all abilities and interests,” Anglin stated. “We must embrace training and learning opportunities and keep our children in school as long as possible. We must ensure they are prepared for their next phase of life, the world of work.”

He said the reorganisation of secondary education and accommodating year twelve was an enormous challenge but it was off to a good start. With the anticipated move of the students in Clifton Hunter High school to Frank Sound before the end of this year more space would becoming available at George hicks to accommodate the BTEC courses at the further education centre.
 

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Two tourists die at sea on Cayman Brac

| 19/01/2011 | 17 Comments

(CNS): In two separate incidents two visitors from the United States who were vacationing in Cayman Brac have died while snorkeling and diving within 24 hours of each other. In the first incident, at around 5pm on Monday a 68-year-old man was snorkelling in the harbour close to the Buccaneer’s Inn when he apparently lost consciousness, and in the second a 67-year-old man, also a tourist from the USA, was part of an organised tour on Tuesday when he lost consciousness while diving in around 8 feet of water near Charlie’s Reef.

In the first incident a member of staff from Paradise Tours took the snorkeller to shore and attempted to perform CPR. But he was pronounced dead at the scene. The second man, who was disabled, had been diving along with his wife with Reef Divers. He was brought to shore at around 3:40 and transferred to the Faith Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

Police said enquiries are ongoing in both incidents. However, there would appear to be no suspicious circumstances surrounding the deaths.

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Order for new MLAs overdue

| 19/01/2011 | 15 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands governorhas said that he expects the order regarding the findings of the Electoral Boundary Commission to come to the Legislative Assembly soon but no date has been set. Although the commission completed its report and submitted its recommendations to the Legislative Assembly almost seven months ago, members have not yet debated the thorny issue of how the country’s parliament will be increased to 18 members, as laid out in the 2009 Constitution. The issue is beginning to raise concerns among members of the LA as there is an expectation that the country’s political landscape will undergo considerable change but as yet no one knows if the government will follow the recommendations of the commission.

Duncan Taylor told CNS on Friday that he was anticipating that the order regarding the way forward for the increase in the number of MLAs for the next election would come to the Legislative Assembly “in the very near future”.

There has, however, been no date set for the order based on the report to come to the Legislative Assembly and Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks revealed last week that he did not know when the order would come as he answered questions about preparations for the full implementation of the country’s constitution and the bill of rights.

Ezzard Miller pointed out that the order based on the boundary commission’s report was overdue and the clock was ticking towards the next election. The commission, which completed its work in June of last year, recommended that the government introduce a seventh electoral district.

Falling short of directly recommending single member constituencies, the commission said it had found considerable support on Grand Cayman during its public consultation period for one member-one vote. Although there is some support from some MLAs, including Ezzard Miller and some members of the opposition, it is understood that government is opposed to one member-one vote.

Explaining the reasoning behind the seventh district, the commission said that with the growing population in the George Town area, voters would be given a powerful political advantage if the country maintained the six districts and merely added seats. It said the creation of a seventh electoral district for Grand Cayman on the edge of the capital, called Prospect-Spotts, could accommodate the three new members as required by the Cayman Islands Constitution 2009.

If the government chose not to introduce the new constituency, the commission said, the population numbers would dictate that two seats would have to go to George Town and the third to Bodden Town.

The commissioners found that all the evidence pointed to the Prospect and Savannah area as the fastest growing and the most logical place to create a new electoral district, which would create a better balance of power. The new district recommended by the commission would include voters from east of the current capital and west of the country’s historical capital, creating a fair distribution of voters.

The commission outlined how government could choose the more controversial option of one member-one vote constituencies, which would mean dividing all three islands into 18 new electoral districts.

George Town and West Bay would then be divided into four separate constituencies, the new Prospect-Spotts district and Bodden Town would both be broken into three, while North Side and East End would remain as individual single-member constituencies.

Meanwhile, the Sister Islands would be separated into two districts incorporating Cayman Brac West and Little Cayman and Cayman Brac East, a move to which voters in the Sister Islands have said they are fundamentally opposed.

Whatever the decision, the balance in voter numbers in the Sister Islands remains. As the commission pointed out, with two constituencies or two members on the Brac and Little Cayman, the voting numbers per constituency are far smaller there than in any district in Grand Cayman.

Go to report. 

Vote in the CNS poll: How should the electoral boundaries be reformed?

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Bailed kidnapper disappears

| 19/01/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): One of four men accused of taking part in what was believed to be Cayman’s first kidnapping for ransom has disappeared. Richard Hurlstone (32), a Honduran national with Caymanian status who had been released on bail, did not appear in court last Friday morning as he is believed to have absconded. Hurlstone is due to face trial with Charles Webster and Allen Kelly next month in connection with the incident which took place in March last year. The men are accused of abducting a young man and demanding a ransom of half a million dollars. The victim was allegedly dishonestly enticed to an address in North Side, where he was held against his will before he managed to escape. A fourth man, Wespie Mullings-Ramon, has already pleaded guilty to charges relating to the crime.

Although Hurlstone was given a curfew and made to surrender his passport, he has not reported to police since early December. It is understood that Hulrstone’s home has been locked up and his personal possessions have been sold on a local classified website.

Justice Harrison has issued a warrant for Hurlstone’s arrest but has said that the trial, which is expected to last two weeks, will still go ahead on 21 February, despite Hurlstone’s absence.

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U17 football squad seeks help to get to Vegas cup

| 19/01/2011 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Cayman’s national football squad is looking for help from the community to send its U17 boys in Las Vegas for the Mayors Cup International Showcase next month. An international competition with some 200 clubs taking part the Las Vegas Mayor’s Cup is a highly competitive tournament heavily scouted by American colleges and universities who are looking for talented young players. The matches will be played on world-class fields constructed exclusively for soccer by the City of Las Vegas. Antwan Seymour the team’s Scholastic Coordinator said the competition could be a dream come true for some of Cayman’s young talented players but first they have to get there.

“Each player’s estimated expenses are US$1490.00, inclusive of airfare, accommodation, transportation, uniform and meals,” said Seymour adding that eh hoped some people from the community would join the parents of the selected youngsters to defray some of the costs.

Hoping to get sponsorship for each player he said smaller donations would also be greatly received.

“Every little bit helps. As we recognize the tight economic times, any contribution towards defraying these costs will be appreciated. “The contributions will assist 18 talented young men a chance to use their football skills to earn a scholarship with one of the numerous college and university coaches at this tournament.”

The team is currently undergoing intensive training on Fridays 4pm at the Annex football team, under Coaches Antwan Seymour and Dion Brandon, assisted by Coach Gillie Seymour.

The team hoping to make it to Vegas and an opportunity to earn a scholarship in the US is:
Matthew Suberan
Matthew Forest
Santangelo Bush
Tiger Wilson Jr
Aaron Martin
Jamaal Ebanks
Colby Seymour
Naoki Montoya
Tevin Yen
Martin Webb
Wesley Robinson
Moses Ebanks
Richard Clarke
Jamaal Seymour
For more information and confirmation of Cayman Select U17 team registration please visit www. lvmayorscup.com

 

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Top cop to face grilling from business community

| 19/01/2011 | 13 Comments

(CNS): At a time when many in the business community feel that Cayman’s most pressing problem is the rise in violent crime and in particular armed robberies and burglaries of local businesses the police commissioner will be the Chamber of Commerce’s presenter at the next be informed series. David Baines will be taking questions from the audience against a back drop of rising crime that is targeting the commercial sector. Well aware of the concerns of members the chamber said it had invited the islands’ most senior police officer to talk about the crime reduction strategies in place as well as any progress on recent crimes that the RCIPS have made.

With five armed robberies taking place in the first two weeks of the New Year at local business Baines can expect a grilling from the audience.

“Escalating crime has become a reality that we must all face, but that does not mean we have to accept it,” said the Chamber President James O’Neill. “It is deeply concerning to the Chamber that so many of our small businesses are being targeted in this way, in what are already trying times for most. We are a small community; it is within our means and ability to rid ourselves of these types of crimes if we pull together. “

The new chamber boss said that people had to stand firm to protect the country and the community had to support the police.

“The RCIPS must be held accountable but they can only do so much,” he stated. “Without the support of the community it is a much harder proposition to apprehend these criminals. The Chamber continues to encourage our members and the wider community to come forward as witnesses or use the anonymous tip line from CrimeStoppers,” he added as he encouraged members to come along.

This BE INFORMED presentation will be held at the Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Centre at Governors Square next Wednesday, at 3pm. Following the same format as previous BE INFORMED presentations the Commissioner will make his remarks and then the floor will be opened for questions allowing Chamber members to get answers from both the commissioner and other RCIPS staff.
Already a popular series this particular presentation series this is expected to attract a full house and the chamber is asking members to register early to reserve a seat at www.caymanchamber.ky

 

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