Archive for January 21st, 2011

Bridger’s complaints rejected

| 21/01/2011 | 25 Comments

(CNS): Complaints made to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) by Martin Bridger, the former lead investigator of Operation Tempura, the undercover police investigation into the RCIPS that took place in the Cayman Islands between 2007 and 2009, have been dismissed by the governor. Although still considering some of the complaints, Duncan Taylor, who took up the post of governor after the investigation was discredited, said the allegations Bridger had made about Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, Justice Henderson and Justice Cresswell were “without justification” and that he had every confidence in the local judiciary.

The complaints were made in the first instance to the FCO last summer by the legal advisor to Tempura and the special police investigation team, former attorney Martin Polaine. The complaints were referred to him for consideration, Taylor said on Friday afternoon. He explained that Bridger later asked to be considered a joint complainant, and when Polaine withdrew his complaint, Bridger took full ownership.

“I was not the governor during the period of Operation Tempura and did not have first-hand knowledge of events which had transpired during those years. Due to the factual and legal complexity of the complaint and the large amount of documents which had to be considered, in late August 2010 I instructed independent Queen’s Counsel from London to advise me on how to proceed,” the governor said.

“I have now received detailed legal advice in respect of the complaint. I am still considering some aspects of that advice but I have reached a conclusion in regard to the complaint as it touches on the judiciary. I have dismissed all the complaints made against the judiciary, namely those complaints made against the Chief Justice, Mr Justice Henderson and Mr Justice Cresswell.”

Taylor said the complaints were similar to those revealed in an article in the Financial Times 13 January.

“I consider that any allegations raised against the judiciary of the Cayman Islands in that article inferring that they had conspired to frustrate or interfere with Operation Tempura are unfounded and without justification,” Taylor stated, adding that he would make a further statement once he had considered all aspects of the complaint.

“I would like to take this opportunity to make clear that I have every confidence in the judiciary of the Cayman Islands.”

Bridger now appears to be working with the company owned by Polaine, who was removed from the legal profession by the UK Bar Council last year as a result of his work with Operation Tempura. The former head of the investigation has suggested that Tempura was not stopped because it was discredited, despite the unlawful arrest of justice Henderson, but because he was prevented from further investigations in Cayman

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Wealthy struggle to sell mega yachts

| 21/01/2011 | 0 Comments

(New York Times): What is tougher than having one sleek mega-yacht for sale in a glutted market? The answer, for the moment at least, is having two mega-yachts on the market. In boom times, yacht enthusiasts would order a new dream boat and keep their old one for the two or three years the builder needed to complete the new boat. Then, they would quickly sell the older yacht to impatient new millionaires and billionaires eager for their requisite status symbols. But that equation changed with the financial crisis two years ago and took the superyacht market down with it. Some of the wealthy have ended up like Peter A. Hochfelder, the principal and founder of Brahman Capital Management, a private investment firm in Manhattan.

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Police arrest thief who took advantage of kindness

| 21/01/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A woman who voluntarily gave cash to a man known to her was taken advantage of after taking her handbag as well. Police arrested a 39-year-old man in the wake of the burglary which took place in West Bay at around 7.50 pm. last night, Thursday. The man had called at a home in Boatswain Bay Road, West Bay and asked the householder for a small amount of cash. She left the man, who is known to her, standing at the door while she went back into the house to getsome money. She returned to the door passed the man the cash and he then made off. The lady immediately realised that her handbag was missing from the hallway and called the police.

A short time later West Bay officers patrolling in the area arrested a man on suspicion of burglary. Subsequent enquiries led to the recovery of the handbag.

Inspector Brad Ebanks of West Bay police is reminding residence that many of the burglaries and thefts we have reported are opportunist. “Would-be thieves are on the lookout for open windows, open doors and opportunities where they can quickly get in and out with property. Secure your property in a safe place at all times,” he said.

“If anyone needs to speak to one of our officers about crime prevention they should either come to the station or give us a call on 949-3999 or 649-3999”.
 

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Two men in dock six days after robbery

| 21/01/2011 | 2 Comments

(CNS):  Update Friday 10:15pm – Joseph Lloyd Suberan, aged 19, and Sanjay Andre Burrell, aged 21, appeared in court this afternoon (Friday 21 January) in connection to a robbery at the Reggae Money Express on Saturday 15 January. They faced charges of theft, conspiracy to steal and possession of an unlicensed firearm. Earlier today police said that yesterday afternoon (Thursday) they had recovered a firearm, cash and made a third arrest for the robbery.  An operation conducted in the Prospect area ended with the arrest of a 26-year-old man on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact as well as the recovery of “a substantial amount of cash” and an imitation firearm, a police spokesperson said. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

The 26-year-old arrested during yesterday’s operation has been released on police bail while enquiries are ongoing. Burrell and Suberan were both granted bail by the court.

With over 60 robberies last year and five in the first month of the year police are under increasing pressure to make headway in solving these increasingly disturbing crimes where local small business appear to be being targeted by robbers.

Police have not given any indication on how may gangs of robbers are currently operating on island but given that some have taken place almost simultaneously it is evident that more than one group of criminals are committing the crimes.

Anyone with information about this crime or any other is asked to call George Town police station on 949-4222 or the confidential Crime Stoppers number 800-8477 (TIPS).
 

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OECD calls for abolition of stamp duty

| 21/01/2011 | 0 Comments

(FTAdviser): OECD economists speaking at the launch of the OECD’s report, Housing and the Economy: Policies for the Renovation, said the abolition of stamp duty would reduce barriers to entry in the housing market. Asa Johansson, OECD economist, said stamp duty should be replaced with an increased council tax where part of the funds went to local councils and part to the Treasury. She said: "I think stamp duty should be removed and replaced with a property tax based on the value on the house. It adds on costs for people entering the market." Johansson proposed replacing stamp duty with a yearly tax, similar to council tax but with part of the funds going to the council and part to the Treasury.

She acknowledged such a tax would have the most impact on those home owners who are asset rich and cash poor but said a revised taxation system would be fairer as it would not penalise those who engaged in property transactions.

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Documents reveal US- Swiss political deal over UBS

| 21/01/2011 | 0 Comments

(Swiss info): A document revealed by whistleblowing internet site WikiLeaks appears to show that Switzerland struck a deal with the United States in 2009 to help embattled bank UBS. A “secret” US dispatch published by Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper alleged that the Swiss government had said it would shut down the activities of the Swedish firm Colenco which was believed to be violating sanctions in Iran. Last year’s Swiss president, Doris Leuthard, had also reaffirmed to the US that Switzerland was prepared to accept “several detainees” from the US prison at Guantanamo Bay. Leuthard is said to have linked both to the achievement of a political settlement in the case of Swiss banking giant UBS. The minister denied the claims on Thursday.

“There is no direct connection between the UBS dossier and the acceptance of detainees from Guantanamo as well as the activities of the Colenco company in Switzerland,” she told journalists.
“As you know, the government mentioned its willingness to accept Guantanamo detainees on January 21, 2009 after US President Barack Obama had announced the closure of the base.”


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Burns presses on with history book

| 21/01/2011 | 1 Comment

(Jamaican Gleaner): Cayman architect and developer Burns Conolly, has been doing some hunting for information in a quest to finish a book his father started before passing away in Jamaica. Conolly has turned to The Gleaner’s archives for the information he needs. "The working title of the book is The Cayman Century and it is his account of the changes in the Cayman Islands from 1900-2000 in the social, economic and political arena," Conolly explained. "My dad spent years in the House representing our region. He was in Government when our 1972 constitution came in, which for the first time gave Caymanians direct responsibility for areas of government. My dad was responsible for tourism, planning, agriculture, lands and survey, environment and natural resources."

Conolly’s father, William, passed away in 2008. Father and son had completed the first three chapters of the book together, but now it is left to the son to finish the book.

"This is the first that I’m writing a book of this nature and using my knowledge to actually complete my dad’s goal. I really do not do research of this nature. In the past, this type of research would have meant an expensive trip to Kingston," said Conolly.

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Murder retrial adjourned after closed door hearings

| 21/01/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following a week of closed door hearings before the second trail of William McLaughlin- Martinez for the murder of Brian Rankine-Carter was even started the hearing has now been adjourned for three months until 4 April. Although CNS is unable to report on the issues in question for legal reasons the presiding judge revealed on Thursday  that the matters in dispute between the prosecuting and defence attorneys had finally been resolved. The actual trial itself  however, could no longer continue because of timetabling problems. Martinez remains on remand at Northward after his murder conviction was quashed by the court of appeal.

The twelve man jury which had been selected to try Martinez was dismissed by Justice Charles Quin and a new panel will now be selected in April for the rail which is expected to take at least two weeks. Martinez (34) was first convicted of killing Brian Rankine Carter (20) 2009 and sentenced to life imprisonment in July 2009. A retrial was ordered by the court of appeal in August last year

During the trial the crown had relied upon forensic evidence and a key witness who was later convicted as an accessory to the murder. Jason Hinds who testified that he was with McLaughlin-Martinez on the night of the killing and saw him attack Rankine-Carter, is a Jamaican national who was deported by authorities here after he had served his sentence.

The murder was described by the police at the time as particularly brutal as the young male victim has sustained more than 48 wounds during what appeared to be a frenzied attack.
 

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Free healthcare for CS no longer an option

| 21/01/2011 | 41 Comments

(CNS): A clear message was sent out at a conference geared at turning around Cayman’s healthcare system, with high level officials calling for a change in the way civil servants, who currently receive all their healthcare premium costs paid for by government, receive their healthcare benefits. Canover Watson, Chairman of the Health Services Authority, called for the “entitlement behaviour” of civil servants to end. “This entitlement culture has to be addressed. Until there is shared participation in healthcare there is no incentive to change,” Watson said. (Left: James Watler – Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

The HSA chair was speaking at the Cayman Islands Healthcare Thought Leaders Forum held at The Ritz-Carlton, where the controversial issue was raised. Watson said a sacrifice for the greater good was needed. “The civil service is a large voting block for government, so it will take political risk to make the change … Whatever plans we implement, however they are structured, there needs to be change,” he added.

The health minister also said that, given the country’s growing and aging civil service, the unlimited medical plan for civil servants could not continue. “I don’t know of any other organisation in the world that pays 100 per cent medical coverage. It is unsustainable,” he said. “We have no tax base and our revenue is declining … We need all the different groups on board to address the issue.”

However, James Watler, President of the Cayman Islands Civil Service Association, (above) vociferously defended the civil service and said that his association had tried many times “to conduct dialogue with the government in this respect."

Lizzette Yearwood, the Health Services Authority’s CEO, said the HSA wanted to keep that dialogue going as she believes that the momentum for change had already begun and that Cayman could not continue where it was. She pointed out the recent steps to change the health insurance legislation to ensure that more people were effectively covered and the evolvement of CayHealth, the initiative designed to take the pressure off emergency and acute care services using preventative healthcare measures and providing primary healthcare.

Kenneth L. Di Bella, President & CEO of CBCA Administrators, Inc, which works with the Cayman Islands National Insurance Co (CINICO), organised the event in a bid to address the issue of Cayman taking responsibility for directly contracting health care providers instead of using a third party or “middleman” at great expense.

Di Bella also presented the idea of introducing wellness and disease management programmes into Cayman in a bid to encourage people to take responsibility for their health and stem the rise in chronic conditions and thus reduce healthcare costs.

After it was pointed out that there was no reason to try and incentivise individuals to look after their health when they already received 100% free health insurance coverage, Di Bella said that the system would have to look internally to see whether it could continue.

“I suggest a system that gives free healthcare cannot continue,” he said. “But you need the political will to make the change.”

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Chinese to build North Sound channel

| 21/01/2011 | 144 Comments

(CNS): The idea of a channel in the North Sound to facilitate mega yachts is back on government’s agenda following the premier’s announcement on Thursday that there is interest from a group of Chinese developers to construct it. McKeeva Bush made a number of announcements about potential development projects, including a pier at the Turtle Farm, a dock in Cayman Brac, new roads in the eastern districts, enhancements at the airport and the channel, which the group of Asian investors may be involved with. Bush said the channel was “absolutely necessary” and would allow the large vessels to dock in Cayman. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

Speaking at the CBO conference at the Ritz-Carlton on his birthday, the premier explained that the motivation for the channel was the growth in mega and super yacht registration and in particular with Cayman’s own maritime authority.

“At the end of 2010, the Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands had 1,870 vessels on their George Town Registry – a 3% increase from last year. Notably in this economic climate, it was the second best year ever in terms of new units registered,” Bush revealed in a presentation full of announcements. “We are also a world leader in super-yacht registration, with 85% of vessels registered as pleasure vessels and 15% as commercial ships.”

He said he was optimistic that, based on the 2010 figures, the next few years would continue to be as successful and Cayman needed to provide the facilities for the yachts to come to the islands, in turn offering new local opportunities. “I believe that the new North Sound channel will not only provide the potential for recreation, habitat preservation and development, but also offer integration opportunities for local hotels and residents. Rest assured, these projects will provide numerous benefits to residents and visitors alike.”

Bush asked the audience why he should not build the channel as the Sound was already suffering because it had become so shallow the water was no longer as clear as it once was. Warning the “naysayers” to come up with better ideas, he said, “If you are going to object tell me what you would do.”

The North Sound, he said, was an asset that the country should use but his government was not seeking to impact the entire area.

“We are simply turning our thoughts to the smallest but most practical channel being developed within the North Sound – leaving the vast remainder of the Sound untouched,” the premier stressed. “Thus far, we have had major investment interest from a Chinese company, which we are currently exploring, to provide the necessary infrastructure to take full advantage of the channel from an economic perspective while mitigating any potential adverse impacts on the environment.”

Although he did not name the Chinese company with which the government has been discussing potential projects, he said the development of a pier and related facilities near to the Cayman Turtle Farm in West Bay; development of a cruise pier and related facilities in Cayman Brac; major road works in the eastern districts of Grand Cayman; and enhancements to the airports both in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.

“I have high expectations that we will sign a memorandum of understanding in the near future in order to commence definitive work on these projects,” the premier added.

He also said that if the issues surrounding the cruise berthing facilities in George Town continued to cause problems, the Chinese stood ready to build those facilities as well. Bush lamented the fact that government has been in talks with various people over the cruise facilities but the government has still not got anywhere and he had run out of excuses as to why the project was not underway.

“I am not prepared to wait any longer. If this particular company wants to develop it, I am prepared to go with them.”

Berating the bureaucracy in general, he made pointed remarks to the governor, who was present in the audience, about stumbling blocks and having to do things in certain ways because the country was a democracy.

“If I was still chairing my boards it would have been done by now, but people would say I was up to my old tricks” he said to the audience, adding that people call him a dictator and he wasn’t a dictator but he wished sometimes he was.

He pointed to a pressing need to improve the airport, especially with the increase of private jet arrivals. “We need new facilities at the airport if we are going to improve our position and want wealth to rise above poverty. We need people with private jets to come here, even if they do offer me a lift,” he said to wide amusement from the audience as he referred to his own return on a private jet on New Year’s Eve.

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