Archive for March 6th, 2012

AG ramps up anti-money laundering efforts

| 06/03/2012 | 0 Comments

Sam bulginAG_0.jpg(CNS Business): The Cayman Islands Attorney General’s Chambers has established a dedicated Anti-Money Laundering (AML) unit to coordinate law enforcement and other authorities dealing with anti-money laundering efforts, as well as combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) and combating the financing of the proliferation (CFP) of weapons of mass destruction. The new AML unit will advise the Anti-Money Laundering Steering Group (AMLSG) in such areas as “the tweaking of our legislative and other operational tools” to ensure Cayman complies with contemporary international best practice, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, who is chairman of the AMLSG, said in a statement. Included in the new unit’s remit is a review of the requirements dealing with “domestic politically exposed persons”. Read more on CNS Business

Continue Reading

Ritz duty still not paid

| 06/03/2012 | 127 Comments

30124_4320_l (222x300).jpg(CNS): Government officials have confirmed that the developer of the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman has still not arranged a plan to pay back the $6 million in duty he owes the public purse. Michael Ryan, who is the owner of a number of companies that have been involved in the development and ownership of the 5-star hotel, as well as the proposed new resort development, Dragon Bay, is currently facing legal action that may see Ryan’s companies lose ownership of the hotel, which could in turn undermine his ability to ever pay the outstanding duty he owes on the property.

In the last communication government officials say they had with any of Ryan’s representatives they were informed that the developer was hoping to meet with the premier to address a way of paying back the duty and buy the crown land at Safe Haven, which is the location of the hotel and the proposed location of the Dragon Bay resort development.

Since then, law suits have been filed in the Grand Court by the current owner of a loan used to develop the Ritz seeking an injunction against the developer and other defendants to prevent them from "interfering with" its efforts to take control of the hotel and facilities.

In a statement to the Miami based OffshoreAlert, Ryan said he did not believe the action would impact the normal operations of the resort but he made no mention of his debt to the Cayman Islands government. CNS has contacted Ryan for comment about the outstanding $6 million and is awaiting a response.

In the Legislative Assembly last year, the premier announced that Ryan had made an offer of $10 milllion for the crown land, which he claimed would make it easier for him to raise the necessary financing to start the resort project. Bush said in September last year that he was considering the offer by Orion Development, one of Ryan’s companies,  in which he has also promised a 2% increase on the current stamp duty rate on all land deals there in perpetuity.

Bush had indicated that not everyone in government supported the plan and he had asked the opposition what its position was on the issue.

“The lease agreements on these properties have already been extended to 99 years. The proposal from the developer is that these leases will be converted to freehold for an upfront payment of $10 million dollars, with an increase in stamp duty of 2% on all transactions in perpetuity. This would increase the rate of stamp duty from the current 7.5% up to 9.5% on each transaction. Total revenueis estimated to exceed $600 milliondollars over the years,” he told his colleagues as he sought support from the opposition, which was not forthcoming.

It is understood that Ryan was seeking to tie in the purchase of the crown land, the start of construction on the resort and its anticipated boost to the local economy with a plan to pay back the old duty from the development of the Ritz.

Ryan and the various firms involved in the hotel’s development had been given duty waivers to the tune of some $10 million which were not due until the hotel opened and began operations. Under the previous administration the developer was making regular quarterly payments to the treasury and had reduced the amount owing down to $6 milllion. However, following a payment made in March 2009, the next quarterly payment, which was due one month after the UDP was voted into government, was not paid and no further instalments have been made.

In September 2010 the premier revealed in the Legislative Assembly as a result of questions from the opposition that Stingray and Condo Co – two of Ryan’s numerous companies — still owed the duty. Bush said that due to the difficult economic circumstances the developer had asked for the payment plan to be extended. He explained that the company had been required to make quarterly payments of $347,818 and he had paid $3,825,996 but that more than $6 milllion remained outstanding.

The premier also said that the developer had offered to pay interest on the outstanding debt and he was not seeking a write-off of the amount. Bush did not believe the extension posed any risk that government would not receive all the money owed, he said.

See details of legal action here

Continue Reading