Archive for July 20th, 2012

Cayman bank accounts linked to organised crime

| 20/07/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): The Mexican branch of HSBC is in the process of closing 20,000 accounts in the Cayman Islands believed to have links to organized crime, in the wake of a daming money laundering investigation by a US Senate watchdog committee. The accounts are worth an estimated $675 million, although the total assets in the Cayman accounts peaked at $2.1 billion in 2008. As part of a 335-page report, the result of a year-long Senate investigation, the committee found that HSBC Bank Mexico (HBMX), which held the Cayman accounts, “is a shell operation with no physical presence in the Caymans, and is managed by HBMX personnel in Mexico City who allow Cayman US dollar accounts to be opened by any HBMX branch across Mexico.” Read more on CNS Business

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Belize mulls decriminalizing ganja

| 20/07/2012 | 25 Comments

cannabis_1.jpg(Caribbean Journal): Belize’s Ministry of National Security has appointed a committee to evaluate and make proposals for the decriminalization of small portions of marijuana. The move, which was announced this week, was driven by “increasing evidence that the current legislation clutters the courts and the prison with primarily a marginalized segment of our population,” the government said in a statement. The committee said that it recognized that the proposal was “a sensitive issue,” and encouraged interested groups and individuals to express their views on the matter. Belize’s current laws treat the possession of under 60 grams of marijuana as a criminal offence, punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 and/or up to three years imprisonment.

The decriminalization proposal would involve up to 10 grams of marijuana, which would then be subject to fines, mandatory drug education and no imprisonment. Also proposed would be the provision that no criminal record would be kept in the first instance, and portions of the penalty be reserved for drug education.

The committee emphasized that the proposal was “not to legalize the offence, thereby purging it of all its penalties,” however.

“It is merely to reduce and regulate,” the committee said. “This is further supported by international trends towards decriminalization.”

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TCI faces VAT next year as bill signed by UK boss

| 20/07/2012 | 11 Comments

(CNS): VAT has now become law in the Turks and Caicos Islands after the bill was signed by the Acting Governor Patrick Boyle, on Thursday. Officials from the UK’s interim governmentsaid no one on TCI’s Consultative Forum voted against it with five members voting in favour and five abstaining. AS a result people on TCI will be paying the new tax from April next year.  2013. There will be no sales tax on fruit and vegetables, fresh meats, hurricane supplies, leases, rents, water and electricity or cooking fuel and building materials in order to support the local construction industry, the government said.

Although there was a concerted campaign by the business community to persuade government to take a different course the community now has just eight months to prepare itself to pay the new tax.

“I hope that everyone who took part in this debate can put their differences of opinion behind them to help make the implementation of VAT as successful as possible,” said Boyle in a statement on Thursday. “VAT implementation here is about providing our essential public services with a more predictable, regular and stable cash flow. If we can harness the energy and creativity of TCI’s businesses, I am sure that we can be successful together.

“The Forum made clear that they would like to see more examples of how VAT will affect the man or woman in the street and smaller businesses, as part of a wider education programme. We accept too that the VAT debate so far ended up being above their heads between Government and TCI's bigger businesses. We are working on this now.”

He said regulations were still being finalised but would be released over the next eight weeks along with the zero-rated and exempted items.

The VAT White Paper is available here


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Cayman swimming stars warm up for big games

| 20/07/2012 | 0 Comments

Swimmers and Ashley.jpg(CNS): Both Shaune Fraser and Brett Fraser competed in Florida Summer Sectionals at the Hall of Fame pool In Ft. Lauderdale, Florida recently as a warm up to their departure for Ireland and pre-Olympic games training.  The meet went very well for both of the swimmers with Shaune winning the 200m freestyle in a time of 1:52.30 and his younger brother Brett finishing close behind in a time of 1:52.49. Theboys are now in Dublin and have already started their training alongside some of their Florida Gator teammates who will also compete in London for their respective countries.

“It's starting to settle in that the games are fast approaching and I am starting to feel more and more prepared each day,” said Brett who along with Shaune will head for the London 2012 Olympic Village on the 25 July.

While in Ireland, the swimmers will be resting and acclimatizing to the similar conditions that they will be subject to in London. The weather has been cool and rainy with the sun coming out on occasion, which they say is a nice change from the heat. 

Ashley Stern, the physiotherapist for the Cayman Islands team for the first half of the Games, also accompanies them.

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Police issue warning over e-mail robbery con

| 20/07/2012 | 4 Comments

Crime-Scene.png(CNS) Officers from the Financial Crimes Unit at the RCIPS are issuing another warning about the latest email scam that is circulating in Cayman. Not uncommon, in this online con the scammers pose as holidaymakers who claim to have been left penniless after being robbed at gunpoint. The fraudsters claim that they and their family have had cash and credit cards stolen and need help to pay their hotel bill. Detective Inspector Ian Lavine of the FCU said the public should never give out their bank details via e-mail. "If anyone receives this e-mail they must not respond," he said. "Do not reply but report it immediately to police."

Anyone who wishes to speak to an officer in the Financial Crime Unit should call 949-8797

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Bush proposes 9 districts

| 20/07/2012 | 177 Comments

8024057.jpg(CNS): Despite the majority result in Wednesday’s referendum in favour of one man, one vote and single member constituencies, the premier has proposed an entirely different voting system and has announced his intention to set up a committee to examine the idea of creating eight districts on Grand Cayman, each returning two members, and retaining the status quo on Cayman Brac. Speaking on Radio Cayman on Thursday evening, McKeeva Bush announced his intention to create a bipartisan committee to examine this or other options. Such a proposal would, however, require the boundaries on Grand Cayman to be entirely redrawn.

In his unpublicised broadcast on the government radio station Bush said this proposal for returning 18 members to the legislative Assembly at the next election would address local perceptions about inequality but would not have what he believed were the “dangerous elements” of single member constituencies.

Although the referendum result delivered a clear and irrefutable message to the government about what the people want, with only ten months before the next general election the premier is proposing to completely change the boundaries established by the constitutionally formed boundaries commission.

Bush described the creation of eight double-member constituencies on Grand Cayman with as equal a number as possible of registered electors, who would have one vote each, where the top two candidates would be returned to the country's parliament.

Echoing comments made by Rolston Anglin shortly before the referendum, Bush said that there needed to be more discussion on improving the electoral system, as he announced the creation of a new group to examine the way Cayman votes.

Despite considering the referendum result a binding 'No' Bush said he was a leader that looked at all the angles of how people feel.

While I don’t believe that single member constituencies are good for the country, I want to continue to work for equality and a system that is fair," he said.

"I would propose we continue the discussions as to whether our present system should be examined without being skewed by the prism of so much politicization and whether we should consider moving toward a new system of all multimember constituencies, with eight electoral districts for Grand Cayman of roughly the same number of voters each and each electoral district returning two MLAs."

He said that Cayman Brac and Little Cayman would be left as is but the change on Gradn cayman would be in line with the principles of “equality and fairness as advocated by the One Man One Vote Committee."

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MLAs should not ignore vote

| 20/07/2012 | 14 Comments

leg ass_1.jpg(CNS): The committee members of the one man, one vote campaign (OMOV) have warned all elected officials not to ignore the result of the national referendum on Wednesday as the people have put them all on notice. The majority ‘yes’ vote did not carry because of the government’s decision to require 50% plus 1 of the entire electorate and not a majority of the turnout, so the result will not change the voting system, the OMOV members said, but maintained that voters do want change. Al Suckoo told CNS that the result was a very clear victory because “in order to participate in democracy, voters have to turn up” and those that did clearly wanted change.

Speaking in the wake of the result that delivered a 2-1 majority in favour of single member constituencies, Johan Moxam and Al Suckoo, both members of the OMOV Committee, pointed to the message that the voters had delivered. Regardless of the artificial requirements placed on the result, it is a warning to everyone in office that the people are not satisfied with the “same old, same old”, the men said.

Claiming the moral victory, the grassroots campaign, which was run on a shoestring budget in stark contrast to the massive UDP government machinery and $100,000 ‘no’ campaign, proved that hard work and commitment to a genuine cause can pay off, Suckoo said, given the result, which showed the OMOV had won the overwhelming majority of the popular vote. Although the campaign had received PPM support, he pointed out that it was an independent movement.

Grateful to all those who came out to the polls as well as the hardworking volunteers on the elections team, Moxam and Suckoo said they were both proud of what had been accomplished by the OMOV group of concerned citizens.

Suckoo said he had no doubt at all that had the OMOV campaign been able to carry on educating the public until November, as intended by the non-partisan grassroots movement that circulated the petition, the result would easily have reached the high bar of 50% of the electorate required for a people-initiated referendum.

However, this vote was a government sponsored ballot, which should have carried with a simple majority. Nevertheless, both Suckoo and Moxam said the result still carried a clear message that local politics could not return to business as usual.

“No elected official can ignore the wishes of the voting public,” Moxam stated. “Cayman is ready to move away from the current style of politics and rhetoric.” The campaign had in the end, he said, been taken over by party politics, which was exactly what the people did not want and why many of them refrained from voting. 

Suckoo agreed that the campaign had become very personal in part, with attacks being made, especially by the premier on supporters of the movement.

During the UDP rallies against the OMOV position, Bush spent a considerable amount of time attacking and criticising the individual players and personalities rather than explaining his opposition to the system that they were promoting.

“We need to raise our expectations of our political representatives,” Moxam said. “We need leaders who comprehend the important issues, who are competent, respectful and prepared to act in the best interest of the voting public and the Cayman Islands.”

Moxam said it was inaccurate for the premier to assume that those who did not vote were voting 'no' to the referendum question, and said the quality of the current representation was the real problem. “I believe there was voter apathy, with voters being tired of the immaturity and vitriol in the current political rhetoric, but those that did go to the polls showed they were tired of the same old, same old and are demanding a better standard of representation.”

He spoke of the need for politicians with vision who wanted to engage in proper discussion and debate on the key issues of the day and find collective solutions for the problems facing the Cayman Islands.

“The numbers should shake up the government to take stock,” Moxam added as he pointed to the 5,631 votes in favour of SMCs.

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