Archive for May 16th, 2012

Ryan silent over mangroves

Ryan silent over mangroves

| 16/05/2012 | 41 Comments

front.jpg(CNS): The developer of the Ritz Carlton, Cayman has failed to respond to enquiries about the future of the promised red mangrove replenishment programme, which has not materialised two years after 378,000sq ft of buffer was removed on the proposed Dragon Bay site. Since Michael Ryan lost control of the Ritz Carlton earlier this year and is now facing a number of legal difficulties, the future of the proposed Dragon Bay project is now in question and Ryan has failed to answer CNS Queries about what this means for the replanting. In May 2010 following the removal of the mangroves, staff at Ryan’s former company, Orion Development, said they were recreating what was described as a pre-Ivan mangrove fringe. (Photo Dennie WarrenJr)

At the time the buffer was removed, which was cleared by the Central Planning Authority, Ryan claimed it had been ripped up as part of a project to remove dead mangroves and rejuvenate the area. However, no significant replenishment work has ever taken place at the site of the proposed new resort and mixed development community behind the Ritz Carlton.

CNS has asked Ryan what plans he now has for the replenishment on the land and if the replanting was contingent on Dragon Bay. Ryan has failed to reply to the questions despite several attempts to contact him.

The removal of the mangrove had caused considerable controversy at the time but now, with no work ever having taken place at the site and with the entire Dragon Bay project in the balance, it appears to have been completely unnecessary.

Although some of the mangrove buffer which was removed was still recovering from the Hurricane Ivan surge in September 2004, according to aerial photographs taken before the clearance, some two thirds of the buffer zone which has ripped out was full, healthy, mature mangrove. Experts from the Department of Environment, who had advised the CPA against allowing the removal of the mangrove buffer, said they had not seen any evidence of hazardous waste in the existing healthy zone, as had been claimed by the developer, and the area which he claimed was dead  was in fact making a significant recovery.

At the time DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said it was disappointing to see another mangrove buffer zone lost, given how much has already been removed from Grand Cayman’s coastlines. She said that once mangrove was ripped out there were significant problems associated with trying to replant it. However, any effort that was being planned to replace the mangrove appears now to have been completely abandoned.

Meanwhile, local sea captains at the Safehaven dock are coming under pressure from Ryan to move their boats from the locations, despite his failure to develop a long awaited new marina as an alternative. Ryan had entered into a swap with the Port Authority for the Safehaven dock in exchange for him developing a new public marina for the North Sound boat operators but that project has also failed to materialise.

According to one of the local captains, Ryan has made a request that the boat owners move to a different part of the Safehaven dock area in order to allow him to blast the canals there for fill. It is not clear what the fill would be used for but it would be coming from crown land as the swap was always contingent on the development of a new permanent local marina. The owners are, however, reluctant to agree to any move until a permanent site is legally secured.

Ryan currently faces a number of law suits and difficulties since losing ownership of the Ritz and the entire Dragon Bay project is in question. Another question that also remains unanswered is whether or not he is still liable for CI$6 million owed to the public purse in connection with a duty waiver on the development of the five star resort.

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Dart vulture fund set to profit from Greek chaos

Dart vulture fund set to profit from Greek chaos

| 16/05/2012 | 0 Comments

dart.jpg(CNS Business): Almost 90 percent of a €436 million bond payment made by the Greek government to investors who rejected the country's debt revamping deal in March went to Dart Management, according to The New York Times, which described it as “a secretive investment fund based in the Cayman Islands”, and cited “people with direct knowledge of the transaction”. The Times called Dart “one of the best known of the so-called vulture funds, which have a track record of buying the distressed bonds of nearly bankrupt countries — and if they do not get paid, suing the governments for the money”. Read more on CNS business

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Heineken score a bucket load

Heineken score a bucket load

| 16/05/2012 | 0 Comments

DSC_0026 (243x300).jpg(CRFU): The going was good to soft for the runners and riders in the fourth round of the National Touch Rugby Championships at the South Sound Rugby Ground last Saturday. An early pitch inspection gave the all-clear and the games kicked off in what is meteorologically known as “Light Drizzle”. However, what transpired during the afternoon was nothing less than tempestuous; a veritable blizzard of blistering rugby. In the first match, Heineken Brew Crew took on the Mighty Maples. The start was slow and ponderous as both teams tried to deal with the conditions of wet ball in hand. The Brew Crew, unbeaten so far this season, were missing a few players and looked off the pace, especially when Maples took the lead with a superbly worked try for Emily Davies. Photos Caroline Deegan

She glided round the outside of the defence to score out wide. This was followed up with a second when Andrew “Dogger” Dean, in his first outing of the season, sniffed out the try-line and dumped the ball across the whitewash for a try. Woof! Two-nil.  Was an upset on the cards? Was Maples about to poo-poo the reputation of the Brewers? They have a team packed with experienced touch players and were doing the basics very well – keeping the ball, taking the touches and not doing anything daft.

It was the introduction of Steve Henshaw to the fray that kick-started Heineken into action. Surprisingly quick for a man his size, he added pace to the attacking drives and made several metres each time he had the ball in hand. Once a defence is on the back foot gaps will appear and these were exploited by Keswick Wright and Morgan Heyward to restore parity at half-time.

As the second half started, the precipitation went from light drizzle, to heavy drizzle, then cats-and-dogs and finally it was “tin hat” weather. Much like the conditions, the players were making heavy weather of it all until tries from Wright and Will Heyward put some daylight between the teams. Maples could have dissolved under this torrent of tries but showed some determined fighting spirit and replied with a neat exchange of passing that put Chandra Friesen in for the score. They kept slogging away but the quick feet of Morgan Heyward slipped through a gap to score his 5th try of the season and restore Heineken’s two try cushion. Dean pulled one back in the final moments for Maples to show there is still life in the old Dogger yet, but it was not enough and the Brew Crew’s unbeaten run continued.


DSC_0084 (300x295).jpgThere have been a few great sporting sibling rivalries over the years: the McEnroes, the Williams sisters, Eli and Peyton Manning, the Klitschkos, the Waugh brothers, even Bobby and Jackie Charlton. But now we can add another: Emily and Martin Davies. In the blue corner, Martin Davies (Walkers) weighing in at 180lbs wet-through, and in the red corner Emily Davies (Maples) weighing in at… well it’s rude to ask a lady isn’t it? Who would win the familial bragging rights after this match? 

In a quirk of the fixtures programme, Maples had a quick turnaround to face their old rivals Walkers who were looking for revenge from their 3-11 drubbing when the two met previously. However, they were clearly not looking that hard as they only turned up with seven players for the start, out of a possible roster of 12 players allowed.  This game is tiring enough when you have a full complement of players so it was going to be a long day at the office for Walkers.

Maples, depleted in energy levels after their first match, struggled to find their rhythm in the first half. It was Richard Gordon, all the way from Matattiele (meaning “Where have all the ducks gone?) on the South African-Lesotho border, who broke the deadlock with a neat burst of pace through two defenders to touchdown. This took Maples into a 1-0 half time lead. Walkers, led by the ever smiling Vikki Piaso, toiled and travailed in the rain and refused to have their spirits dampened. She leveled the scores on the restart and then Michael Sumares jinked his way through to even up the scores for a second time after Gordon had once again restored Maples lead. Clearly, all the ducks had come to see Gordon’s rugby talents at the SSG. It was weather for ducks after all!

The Davies’s had kept to different sides of the pitch thus far but their pivotal contest came when Martin received the ball from a nice Paul Smith offload and he exploded into the Maples defensive line. Who could stop him going all the way? Guess. None other than Sister Emily who, as cool as a cucumber dropped in a vat of liquid nitrogen, stepped across from her wing to deliver the arresting touch – Sister 1 – Brother 0.

The sides traded attacks until Jyoti Choi, as dummy half, decided he’d had enough of all this and lunged through an offside defensive line to power toward the try line. Dummy halves are prohibited from scoring and a switched-on defense will defend against the supporting runners to prevent the score. Walkers had switched off and Maples’ Marc Randall gave an excellent supporting angle for Choi to offload and the lead was restored. Adam “Huckleberry” Huckle, in his first season on island, added a sixth as Maples exerted a stranglehold which they did not loosen to return a 4-2 victory. All smiles for Emily, all tears for Martin; or was that just raindrops running down his cheek?

Final score WALKERS 2 • MAPLES 4

In their second match-up of the season DART played KPMG. DART are notorious slow-starters and it was unsurprising that KPMG were the brighter of the two. The Neil Montgomery/Dean Curtis double act was in full flow and they took a deserved 2-1 lead courtesy of a Curtis sprint down the wing. The hirsute Wellington speedster cuts a mean figure on the pitch and caused concern in the DART defensive ranks all game.
DART finally managed to crank it up thanks to individual efforts from Riley Mullen and Al Lum to turn in a close half-time lead. In the second half DART managed to exert more pressure on the KPMG offensive line causing a number of quick turnovers of possession. Increasing in confidence, they started to run the ball more and a fine move was finished by captain Stacey Ottenbreit who scored her first ever try in touch rugby – an event I’m sure she will never forget. After all, we all remember our first time, don’t we?

As DART pressed they eventually broke the KPMG spirit – that is, all but for one man – Dean Curtis. In a herculean effort of defence he singularly tracked not one but three DART attackers from halfway right back to his try-line, and made the most deserved touch of the day to foil the attempted score. Unfortunately for Dean his teammates didn’t quite have his energy or passion for the retreat and DARTimmediately scored from the next phase. As he walked off the pitch in desolation he received the accolades of the crowd who recognized a man broken from his ultimately futile efforts. Further tries from Mark Robson and Iain Blackwell sealed the deal and DART ran out 9-5 winners.

Final score: DART 9 • KPMG 5

There’s a saying in sport “Form is temporary, class is permanent”. This was again proved to be true when the crowd witnessed a sight they had not seen for years – Heineken Brew Crew’s Paul “The Cobra” Deegan in full flight. Many have tried to usurp the title of “The Cobra” from Deegan but this guy has longevity, heft and probably copyright on his side. With the game finely poised at 5-4 to Team Black he received the ball 20 metres out. The gap was there and head down, he raced to the line. Closing in fast was Team Black captain Scott McCarty. McCarty, several years younger and several yards faster, would surely reach him before the touchdown. On went the afterburners and the ground scorched as Deegan spied the danger. I swear I heard a sonic boom as he hurtled to the line like a meteor approaching earth. KAPOOM! I am not sure whether he dived or tripped but Deegan crash-landed on the turf leaving a fiery trench in his wake. It was not an impact to cause an Extinction Level Event but the shock waves would have been felt all the way in McCarty’s home town of Upper Hutt, New Zealand as he mystifyingly failed to make the decisive touch and prevent the score.

Up to that point Team Black had been in the ascendency. Leading 4-3 at the break, two tries from Simon Raftopoulous, and one a-piece from Scott McCarty and James Waters were answered by two from Morgan Heyward, and one breakout sprint from Keswick Wright. Waters added a fifth and it seemed that revenge for their early season defeat from Heineken was on the cards. But Phil “Balls of” Fourie had already pegged one back when Deegan made his decisive strike. Pulling the scores level energized Heineken and deflated Team Black in equal measure. Wright scored the winner with only minutes remaining for Heineken’s fifth consecutive win on the bounce.


Walkers had eased their playing worries with the addition of some extra players including Jacky Rowland who, like the 7th Cavalry, arrived just in time for the start of the game. But it was KPMG that started well and Neil Montgomery opened the scoring with virtually the first attack of the game. Tries were exchanged like hits on a Battleships Grid with Walkers sinking KPMG’s destroyer, and only losing their submarine in response. That’s 4-2 to the uninitiated at the half-time break.

The second half was much more open as KPMG started to throw the ball around. Excellent inter-exchanges between Montgomery and Roger Priaulx threatened and ultimately were rewarded with a Priaulx try but not before Rupert “the” Bell had added an important fifth for Walkers. KPMG can’t buy a win this season despite Montgomery bagging 12 tries to date.

Final Score WALKERS 5 • KPMG 3

Cometh the hour, cometh the man – or in this case cometh James Waters. Up until half-time DART was seriously beginning to put a dent in Team Black’s day. Tenacious defence and some rapid ball movement meant DART were trading punches with the (nearly) all Blacks. True they were getting hit but also managed to land some blows of their own. Michael Mulligan just missed out on his debut score when he made a scintillating break through the heart of the Black defence. The score at the break was 3-1 in favour of Team Black with Vangie Raftopoulous and Ray Galletly getting scores to match that from James Waters. Mullen added the score for DART. But then – step forward James Waters. He made line-break after line-break. Each rapier sprint pierced the very heart of DART.

Again and again and againhe tore DART open like a cheap packet of Salt and Vinegar crisps. His six-try haul, making it 16 in total so far this season, was like death by a thousand cuts to DART or in this case death by thousand (well, eight!) tries. Riley Mullen, pulled one back, but it was a forlorn hope against a better team and, on this occasion, a better man.

Final score DART 2 • TEAM BLACK 8


DART (300x216).jpgDART are one of the main sponsors of all forms of rugby here in Cayman, and their commitment to touch rugby in these islands has continued with their team taking part in the National Touch Rugby Championships. With a hard core of DART staff at the centre, the team was pulled together by Captain Stacey Ottenbreit. By securing the sponsorship early she was able to recruit players quite easily with many culled from the Summer Touch League. What she may lack in touch rugby experience she makes up for in enthusiasm and is a firebrand on the pitch with or without the ball. DART have had some mixed results thus far but the motivational half-time team talks of Niall “Sully” O’Sullivan are stuff of legend. Churchillian in both their tone and inspiration, these now famous half-time talks ensure that DART never lies down or surrenders. If only he said them at the start of the game! They may well fight them on the beaches, on the landing grounds, and in the fields and the streets but it is on the touch rugby pitch where the battle must be won. Stand firm DART, and victory shall be yours.

Back Row: Lisa Bird, Michael Mulligan, Niall O’Sullivan, Mark Robson, Al Lum, Iain Blackwell.  Middle Row: Sonya Sherman, Kelly Fiebig, Riley Mullen, Stacey Ottenbreit (capt.) Front Row: Debbie Strassburg
Missing:  Fiona Brander, Ross Connerton, Phil Coley, Siobhan O’Sullivan, Nic Schwartz



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Witness dents Mac’s claims

Witness dents Mac’s claims

| 16/05/2012 | 73 Comments

mac_0.JPG(CNS): The premier’s claims that he was paid money by developer Stan Thomas for assisting with the sale of land at Vista Norte in 2004 are undermined by a witness statement given to the police by Brian Wright, who was involved in the sale of the land by Gil Freytag to Thomas in 2003. In two statements given to the Financial Crimes Unit he explains the timeline of the deal between the two men and indicates that a deposit of $1.5 milllion had already paid by Thomas to secure the sale in May 2003. Although Bush has not stated exactly when he became involved in the deal, he did not send an invoice to Thomas until what appears to be almost a year after the sale was first agreed.

Despite the implication that a letter Bush sent to Thomas in October 2004 demanding $350,000 was related to the re-zoning, not the sale, of the land, the premier has said that the letter was a mistake sent by his assistant. Last week he told The Caymanian Compass that he had clarified that the money he was asking for was on an outstanding balance of $750,000 in relation to work he had done on brokering the sale of the land to Thomas that the developer was trying to buy from Freytag to develop a resort.

Although it is not yet clear when Bush and Thomas became involved in a business relationship via the premier’s family’s real estate company, Windsor Development, it seems the two men first met in Las Vegas in February 2004. At this time the zoning issue for the land remained in question but the sale had been completed, according to Wight’s police statement and documents released under the freedom of information law.

Throughout 2002 and 2003 both the Central Planning Authority and the ministry responsible for planning were keen to see the land in question re-zoned and there seemed to be no objections or concerns over land being cleared for hotel development.

At the end of November 2003 the planning department recommended the re-zoning of all Vista Del Norte lands. However, just over two months later on 2 February 2004, right after the formal completion and registration of the land sale between Thomas and Freytag but a few weeks before Thomas and Bush met in Vegas, the planning director was advised that Cabinet had unexpectedly refused the re-zoning.

According to government documents, that refusal was then overturned in July 2004 when the ministry advised the planning department that “Cabinet had reconsidered the matter” and approval was to be given for the rezoning of all the Vista Del Norte lands and it was to be referred to the Legislative Assembly.

Bush has claimed that he met Thomas in Vegas in order to discuss the details of the resort the property developer was proposing to build on the Vista Norte Lands, where he also wanted to introduce casinos — an issue the government was actively considering at the time. The premier has said that Windsor Development was not involved in the re-zoning process at all as that application had been made before he became involved in the deal.

Bush, who was at the time leader of government business, has said that the invoice he sent to Thomas in April for $750,000 was for consultancy fees for the sale of the land as he acted as a buyer’s agent. 

According to comments the premier made to the Compass, the only media house that he has elected to offer any explanation to, the infamous letter to Thomas asking for the money after all of the re-zoning issues had been addressed was worded and sent to Thomas by Richard Parchment, his political assistant, in error. Bush says another short letter sent the same day clarified what the money was for.

Bush has denied that he has done anything wrong, despite the fact that the letter sent by Parchment remains at the centre of a two-year police probe, which is one of three investigations Bush is now under.

Both these letters are dated 7 October, but the fax stamp on the letter relating to zoning is dated 15 October while the second later has no fax time stamp. Parchment has said he has no explanation for the discrepancy in dates but that he sent both letters on 7 October.

After a year of silence the premier admitted to the local paper that he was involved in a the real estate deal with Thomas and that he went to Las Vegas, where he says the developer gave him a $20,000 goodwill cash deposit. An invoice sent to Thomas in April then asks Thomas to wire a further $355,000 in relation to the deal described as “real estate sales commissions”.  The invoice suggests that almost one year after the sales deal which Bush says he worked on had been agreed, he had received only $20,000 of his $750,000 fee.

In Wight’s statement to the police about the chronology of events and the eventual deal between Thomas and Freytag, he makes no mention of Bush’s involvement in the actual sale, though he agrees that Ronald Zimmer, the man that Bush has said he was dealing with, was involved in the deal.

In his first statement Wight tells the FCU officer that the deal was signed at Thomas’ lawyer’s office when the deposit of $1.5 million was paid. He also reveals how the lawyer had been seen hurrying across town to Freytag’s lawyer’s office with the relevant documents.

In a second statement at a meeting with the police, where Wight handed over relevant documents about the sale to the financial cops, he clarified that the sale took place in May 2003 when the first deposit was paid. He said that necessary changes to the contract and other delays meant the closing did not actually occur until January 2004. The sale was then registered with lands and survey in February, ahead of the meeting in Vegas.

See related story: Bush blames assistant

See CPA minutes below.

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Clifford has no regrets over winding road to bar

Clifford has no regrets over winding road to bar

| 16/05/2012 | 0 Comments

Charles Clifford by the Court Steps (269x300).jpg(CNS Business): Some twelve years after finishing his Professional Practice Course and a winding road through the police, the civil service and politics, former Cabinet minister Charles Clifford was finally called to the Bar on Friday 4 May. Having completed his articles in judicial administration, the former tourism minister said during his admission speech that he had no regrets about his unusual and circuitous route to the Bar. “I do not regret the deviations that I have taken along this journey to becoming an attorney-at-law. I truly believe that those deviations were for the greater good,” he said before announcing his intention to open his own practice. Read more on CNS Business

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