Archive for November 20th, 2012

Addict admits $289k pension fund theft

| 20/11/2012 | 93 Comments

cocaine-addiction.jpg(CNS):A 40-year-old US national admitted stealing CI$289,660 from the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce pension fund over a two year period to fund an uncontrollable drug habit. Robert Shultz pleaded guilty to a rolled up charge of theft on Tuesday which included more than 40 illegal transactions made while he was the pension’s sole employee. Michael Snape, prosecuting counsel, told the court that Shultz had forged his board of trustee’s signatures to draw money from the Chamber pension’s bank account and transfer it to his own via a series of wire transfers, dressed up as bonus payments. Using his position of trust, Snape said Shultz had committed a premeditated serious crime.

“No theft is ever a good theft,” Snape told Justice Charles Quin, as he set out the crown’s case against Shultz, “but in this case we also have deception and forgery,” he added, as he pointed to the important element of a breach of trust, which the prosecutor said had a far wider impact on the community.

Snape noted that, becaise it is compulsory in the Cayman Islands for everyone to contribute to a pension fund, the degree of trust the public needs to have in the accredited schemes is far greater than would normallybe the case. The prosecutor asked the judge to start his sentencing consideration with at the very least four years imprisonment, before discounting for mitigating circumstances, as a deterrent.

However, defence counsel Ben Tonner drew the judge’s attention to the unusual circumstances of the case and the host of mitigating factors, not least his client’s hopeless addiction. Tonner said that unlike most other breach of trust cases, where the perpetrators are often motivated to commit the offence by greed or perhaps debt, his client was suffering from a sickness. He pointed to the inevitability of the crime, given the circumstances of the dependency problem and the lack of sophistication in the offence that meant it was certain to come to light as a paper trail led right to him.

Tonner related his client’s story from when he came to Cayman from California with his wife in 2007, only to have his marriage fall apart shortly after. He then began to spiral into a depression, which led to the misuse of alcohol and then cocaine.

Shultz stole the money to feed an escalating drug habit that he could not control, and despite several attempts to get clean, he was unable to escape the clutches of what Tonner described as a narcotic with a notorious reputation for its impact on users.

Once his client’s offending came to light, Tonner said, he had immediately admitted his crime and cooperated fully with the police. He told the court that Shultz has persevered and had begun to tackle his addiction before he was remanded in custody. Since being in HMP Northward for the last eight months, however, the court heard that it has not been easy for Shultz as there is no rehabilitation programme for addicts in the prison system.

Nevertheless, and despite being a victim of persecution and afraid for his safety in the jail, which was reported to the authorities, he has continued to get clean and abstain from any substance abuse.

Tonner explained that Shultz was genuinely remorseful, which was borne out by various character references and the social enquiry report. Although he would want to pay back the money he has stolen, his client admits all of the money went on his $200 to $500 a day cocaine habit.

Now that he is incarcerated and unlikely to be ever granted a work permit, he cannot make financial restitution. However, Tonner explained that Shultz was seeking an opportunity to pay back the community another way. Shultz implored the judge, via his attorney, to use the alternative sentencing available to him to hand down some form of community order on top of the time he has already served in jail to allow him to pay back for his offence in a meaningful way.

“We have very little guidance over the difference in offences motivated by greed and those motivated by drugs, which in my submission is an illness,” the attorney said. Tonner then pointed to the drug court as an example of how legislators have indicated that drug addiction as a motivator in crime is a different class of offending.

The defence attorney noted that, while he did not suggest such a case as the one before the judge was suitable for that specialist court, the message was clear that those who commit non-violent crime because of addiction have an opportunity to be rehabilitated and not have a conviction recorded against them if they get clean. He said this was because addition is an illness and when offenders commit crime to satisfy their addiction to drugs they are set apart from other offenders.

After hearing the guilty pleas, the circumstances of the offence and the attorney’s submissions regarding the appropriate sentencing, Justice Quin said he would deliver his decision on 4 December.

Related article on CNS Business:

Custodian appointed for Chamber Pension Plan

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Elections office urges public to become voters

| 20/11/2012 | 5 Comments

vote here 2.jpg(CNS): As the clock ticks on the deadline of 2 January for those who are eligible to become voters to register on the electoral role ahead of the May 2013 general election, officials urged people to come out and sign up before it’s too late. The Elections Office said, this week, that whilst applications for registration will continue to be accepted in the six electoral districts and at the Elections Office on Smith Road until 2 January next year the weekend supermarket service will close on 1 December. The general election is set for 22 May and is now just six months away and while as many as 25,000 people are believed to be eligible to vote at present the electoral register contains less than 16,000 voters.

All prospective electors who are qualified and be will 18 years old on or before the 22 May can submit applications. The writs of elections will be served on 12 December which will define the electoral landscape for the next national ballot which is still expected to be six seats in George Town, four in West Bay, Four in Bodden Town, two in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman and one in both East End and North Side.

The elections office said that those people who have already registered need not re-register but voters who have changed their names, addresses or occupation must complete Form 13 and submit it to the registering officer in the district where they now live.
“While the Elections Office is doing its utmost to accommodate those individuals who are not registered it should be noted that the onus is on the individual, not the registering officer to get registered,” officials stated.  “The process is quite simple and time is now of the essence.  Being able to exercise ones franchise to vote, whether at an election or referendum, is a key tenet of a democracy.’

Speaking at a recent briefing regarding the campaign to get people registered, the supervisor of elections Kearney Gomez pointed out how important registering to vote is.
“The right to vote is a great equalizer,’ the elections boss said. “Your vote matters just as much as the next persons. However, in order to vote you must first be registered.  If you are not registered to voteby 2 January you will not have another chance and you will not be able to vote in the May General election.”

The cut-off point under the elections law, which is there to ensure that all newly registered voters can be verified as qualified before the register is updated and open to public scrutiny caught out a number of people ahead of this summer’s referendum on one man, one vote and left many people disenfranchised in what was a significant national poll. Since then local activists and campaigners have been joining forces with the elections office to emphasise the need to register even if potential voters don’t think they will be exercising their vote.

Kenneth Bryan one of the group that has been co-ordinating the Grasp Your Future campaign to get as many of the suspected 10,000 qualified voters on to the electoral register as possible before 2 January pointed out that registering to vote does not mean electors are compelled to go to the polls on election day.
“Many people right now probably have no idea who they would vote for or even think they want to vote at all but as the election draws nearer and they begin to take an interest in what is going on it will be too late by then. Once again potential voters will be caught out if they don’t get their names down now,” he said, as he pointed out the need to learn the lesson from the referendum.

Urging people to call the campaign group numbers 928-vote or 328-vote (8683) to get help with registering Bryan said just because people feel as though they are not interested now if they don’t register before 2 January they may regret it when it’s too late.
“You lose nothing by registering but gain one of the most import tools in a democracy when you do. It’s a tool that you can choose to use or not once you have it but if you don’t have it then you can’t use it,” he added.

For more details visit www.electionsoffice.ky
 

 

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Local dengue transmissions double as results come in

| 20/11/2012 | 12 Comments

Aedes_aegypti_feeding (234x300).jpg(CNS): Following the receipt of more than a dozen results this week the public health department has confirmed that 15 cases of dengue fever have been caught locally. Since the beginning of the year some 59 suspected cases of dengue have been reported, three in the last ten days. Forty-nine results have been received and more than half of those have proved to be positive. The majority of positive cases have now turned out to have been contracted in the Cayman Islands from dengue infected mosquitoes and mostly in West Bay.

Only ten of the 26 positive cases have a confirmed travel history to countries where the fever is endemic among the aedes aegypti, and officials say that they have been unable to reach one patient to clarify where that person may have contracted the illness.

Among the ten confirmed cases with a travel history that were likely to have contracted dengue overseas five are residents of West Bay, 3 from George Town, and 2 from Bodden Town. While 13 of those who contracted the fever in Grand Cayman came from West Bay with just one from George Town and Bodden Town. The patient with unknown travel, officials said, is also from West Bay.

Fifteen people have been admitted to hospital with suspected denguecases throughout this year with nine being confirmed as the mosquito borne disease, four cases are still pending results but two were found to be negative.
Officials issued reminders to residents about taking precautions regarding mosquitoes during the early evening around sunset, by covering up and using repellent. The public is also asked to control the potential breeding grounds by ensuring no standing water can collect in vessels in yards, gardens and otheroutside spaces.

The MRCU is continuing is fogging operations in an effort to keep he levels of the offending mosquito as low as possible.

See government Dengue Fever Fact Sheet below

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C4C attracts curious crowd

| 20/11/2012 | 173 Comments

IMG-20121119-00329 (242x300).jpg(CNS): A new political group, which insists it is not a party, attracted more than 800 people on Monday evening to its debut public meeting in a local hardware store’s parking lot. The mixed crowd, which included well-known faces previously associated with both political parties, were curious to see the faces behind Coalition4Cayman but although a number of anticipated candidates appeared on the platform, there were no revelations about who will be running in the election under the C4C ticket. Speaking to CNS after the speeches, the organisers would not state who among them, if any, are planning to run for office in next May’s General Election.

MC’d by Austin Harris, the host of Rooster’s talk show, Crosstalk, the meeting’s speakers included Jude Scott, Tara Rivers, Johan Moxam, Jacqueline Haynes and Mervin Smith, most of whom have previously indicated an interest in running for public office as some time or another. Also understood to be among the organisers is Charles Clifford, a former PPM minister, and among the crowd wearing the C4C t-shirts were a mixed collection of known former UDP and PPM associates.

The group said it will not be directly fielding candidates but will endorse those they believe are independent thinkers, who will, as the new group’s motto states, put country first ahead of party or reasons of self-interest when implementing policy. Pressing the need to address corruption, government overspending and its debt, the group spoke about integrity and transparency. Making no criticisms of any specific politicians, the speakers all focused on condemning party politics as the root cause of Cayman’s economic and social ills.

Asked by CNS who their candidates would work with if elected, Jude Scott and several of the organisers avoiding picking either party but said that anyone C4C endorsed would be the type of individual who would not cut backroom door deals but would unify, while being independent leaders.  If they turned out not to be that, the group admitted, it would be their failing.

Tackling the issue of what some have described as horse-trading after the vote, when individuals who do not share a political platform are elected and must decide who will become a Cabinet minister, the organisers denied that the party system has produced any certainty on policies anyway. Moxam stated that the only certainty of the party system was who would be leader. 

“That certainty has brought us debt, a poor quality of life, rising crime and many social problems. Certainty in leaders yes, but look at their track record,” he stated.

“We will be selecting the right leaders to be independent thinkers and develop solutions for Cayman as a whole,” said Scott, who pointed to the launch as just the beginning of a long process. “Right now we are focusing on bringing people together and attracting them to the C4C vision. We may find independent leaders who have the vision but who may never have considered politics before. We will eventually interview the possible candidates and figure out who can best represent the position of the coalition.”

When asked about splitting the vote and, by default, assisting the same leaders back into office, local attorney, James Bergstrum, who is believed to be one of a considerable number of people driving the group, said that, while they accepted that was a possibility, the coalition was still not afraid to attempt to unify the political arena. He spoke of the need for unity under the leadership of independent thinkers.

Moxam emphasised that the launch, which he believed had been a significant success with so many people turning up, was merely the first phase to raise awareness and that people needed to get involved in the political landscape and shape their representatives themselves.

He emphasised that the goal of the group now was to encourage everyone who is eligible to register to vote and join the coalition, which is looking for people to volunteer to lead what C4C members have described as issue-led sub-committees. These committees, the members say, will analysis the various problems the country has and seek solutions, which they hope elected leaders will follow once in office. The issue of actual candidates will come later, the organisers of the group said, as they refused to name any names.

“Phase one of the process is about establishing the coalition and encouraging voters to expect more from leadership and to act as a vehicle for change,” Moxam said. Criticising party-politics, he said that it was not necessarily the case that the members of the parties were bad people but their style of management was the problem. “We can’t continue to trade between two dysfunctional groups that don't have solutions to the issues that they have both helped to create,” he added.

The group also said that their focus will be on the districts of George Town, Bodden Town and West Bay in Grand Cayman and they will not be seeking to endorse candidates in any other districts. While neither of the existing independent members, Ezzard Miller and Arden McLean, has sought the coalition’s endorsement, the group said that they are both doing a good job of representing their constituents so they see no need to findcandidates to run against them.

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Cops net illegal loaded gun in Breakers

| 20/11/2012 | 1 Comment

loaded revolver November 2012.JPG(CNS): The police have arrested a 41-year-old man from Breakers after a raid at his home Monday.An RCIPS spokesperson said that the man was taken into custody yesterday morning (19 November) following a police operation which led to the recovery of a loaded revolver and ammunition. The raid focused on a house in which the handgun and bullets were recovered, police revealed. The resident of the house was arrested on suspicion of possession of an unlicensed firearm and remains in police custody while enquiries continue. Police have not yet stated if the weapon is linked to any specific crimes.

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Crisis Centre needs walkers & runners for fundraiser

| 20/11/2012 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The charity which provides sanctuary for women and children suffering from domestic abuse has opened the registration for is annual fun-run which takes place on 9 December and is one of the centre’s most important fund raising events of the year. The Online registration is now live for the 10th Annual Jingle Bell Walk/Run and registration will be available at Fosters at the Strand and Cost-You-Less on 1st and 8th December and at AL Thompson’s Home Depot on 1st December. Taking place at the Grand Caymanian Resort in Crystal Harbour it is expected to attract more than 300 participants. As it is a family event, organisers said the new venue had been selected because of it seclusion from the main road traffic.

The proceeds of this event support the operations of the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre – the island’s only women’s shelter – including 24-hour security, the emergency hotline (949-CICC (2422)) and vital in-house programmes, including case and risk management, individual and group counseling, support groups, referral services and a Child & Youth Programme, which is sponsored by Hedge Funds Care Cayman.

This year’s sponsors are: Premium Sponsors – Aon Insurance Managers, Caymanian Compass, Conyers Dill & Pearman, Insurance Managers Association of Cayman, KPMG, LIME, Walkers, and FirstCaribbean; Super Sponsors – CUC, Generali, ITA Group, Krys Global, PKF Chartered Accountants & Business Advisors, Rawlinson & Hunter, RBC Wealth Management, Rotary Sunrise, SRS (Cayman), The Ritz Carlton, The Security Centre, Water Authority, and Zolfo Cooper; and Shelter Friends – Butterfield Group, Damian Pentney, DART Enterprises Ltd, Hews Janitorial Maintenance Services,

The Cayman Islands Crisis Centre is getting ready to launch a new website at www.cicc.ky, which will go live by 7 December to showcase the 2012 Jingle Bell Walk/Run.

 

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Government in cash flow snag

| 20/11/2012 | 78 Comments

atm_0.JPG(CNS): Despite the strict parameters that now surround government’s budgetary process and the supervision from the UK, only five months into the fiscal year it appears to be hitting early cash flow problems. Sources tell CNS that government is already close to its overdraft limit and hitting problems paying bills as a result of pressure from ministries drawing down large parts of their annual budget in the early part of the fiscal year. Government collects a significant proportion of its revenue in January but with the UK clamping down it cannot exceed the overdraft limit agreed with the FCO, making it difficult for government to pay bills.

With no appropriations (additions to the money voted for government spending by Finance Committee) the Cayman government cannot exceed the allocations the Legislative Assembly voted for in August, no matter the circumstances, and it cannot exceed agreed levels of borrowing, including its short-term loan.

With government almost at its overdraft limit, unless it collects more significant revenue before January it could have a difficult Christmas.

So far, the UK’s economic adviser assigned to the Cayman Islands, Richard Holmwood, hastaken part in at least two meetings with the newly established Budget Unit, which is chaired by the deputy governor and tasked with keeping an eye on government spending and earnings. However, it appears that the demands and needs of some ministries are already putting the closely supervised budget under strain.

Along with the need to pass the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility into local legislation, the creation of the Budget Unit was one of several conditions imposed by the UK in exchange for approving the UDP administration’s final budget before the elections. The British also required their economic advisor to be assisted by the CIG when he makes what were expected to be quarterly visits.

Given the tight reins that the UK is keeping on the CIG’s budget for 2012/13, no ministry or portfolio will be allowed to exceed spending this year, which means that any ministry drawing down on more of its allocation earlier than expected will be forced to make it to the end of the year with what remains of its allocation as it will not get extra cash and any spending over the budgeted amount will not be lawful.

Holmwood, who is known as a ‘trouble-shooter’ and is also supervising the TCI budget, is expected to keep a watch on spending on behalf of the UK and the Overseas Territories director and ultimately the minster. According to UK reports, the former overseas territories director, Colin Roberts, has moved to a new position within the FCO and Peter Hayes has been appointed as the new territories boss. Hayes, who was appointed in October, was previously High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and High Commissioner to the Maldives.

"I am delighted to take up this role at such an important time, as we take forward the ambitious agenda for re-energising the relationship between the UK and Overseas Territories," he said last month. There is no news yet of any planned visit to Cayman by the new OT Director.

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