Archive for November 23rd, 2012

Cayman networks at China Offshore Summit

| 23/11/2012 | 0 Comments

Mac in china_0.JPG(CNS Business): At the Cayman Islands’ private session during last month’s China Offshore Summit, which was attended by more than 120 people representing top financial intermediaries and high net-worth individuals from mainland China, Premier McKeeva Bush said he was pleased with the overwhelmingly positive response. Government’s theme for the summit, according to officials, was  Guanxi: The Cayman-China Connection, which “aimed to educate investment advisers, venture capitalists, private-equity firms and other financial institutions on the asset management and corporate products available in Cayman,” the finance ministry said. Guanxi is a Mandarin word meaning ‘networks’ or ‘connections’, inferring support and cooperation, particularly in the business and social contexts. Read more on CNS Business

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Pirates Week Mike Lockwood Memorial Swim Meet

| 23/11/2012 | 0 Comments

Masters Michael Lockwood (381x500).jpg(SSClub): The Pirates Week Mike Lockwood Memorial Swim Meet took place November 14, 16, 18 at the Lions Aquatic Centre; hosted by Stingray Swim Club and attended by some 150 swimmers from Stingray Swim Club (SSC), Team TI (TI) and Camana Bay Aquatic Club (CBAC) as well as a couple of unattached swimmers – including a couple of Masters Swimmers. Michael Lockwood, son of the late “Chief Pirate” Mike Lockwood, Masters Swimmer and CIASA Vice President was on hand, along with his mother Mrs Ella Kaye Lockwood at the official opening of the Swim Meet . “My father was not a swimmer but he believed firmly in children and in community,” Michael said.

“He saw the benefits of swimming … and I still swim today. My family and I thank Pirates Week and the Stingray Swim Club for hosting this meet again. It is a fitting memorial to my father,” he added.

It was an excellent weekend of swimming and fun and over the four days of competition, with swimmers’ competing in longer distance events such as 200m and 400m events – some of them for the first time – Stingray Swim Club saw team members getting Personal Bests (PBs) in every race, and every team member getting at least one PB.

There were many notable swims over the four days, but special mention goes to Samantha Bailey who reached her first AA time of 30.91 in the 50m Freestyle; Cole Morgan who dropped 6 seconds in his 200m backstroke to post his first AAA time in 2.19.83, giving him his second qualifying time for CARIFTA and Alex Dakers who dropped 6 seconds in his 100m breaststroke, coming from behind by more than a body length to win the event by a fingernail.

In addition to the great atmosphere, huge swims and fun – a number of records also took a tumble over the weekend with the following Stingray Swim Club and Lions Pool records being broken: SIX new Stingray Swim Club Short Course Records:

– 9-10 Girls 50 FREE – Alison Jackson (SSC) with a time of 33:37(AA) broke J Foster's 2000
Record of 33:87
– 8 and under Boys 100 IM – Corey Westerborg (SSC) lowered his own record of 1:43:18 set in
June 2012 to 1:42:50(B)
– 8 and Under Boys 50 FLY – Corey Westerborg (SSC) lowered his own record of 43:84 set in
October 2012 to 43:74(BB)
– 8 and Under Boys 50 BACK – Corey Westerborg (SSC) broke Alex McCallum's 2003 Record of
48:13 with his time of 47:08(BB)
– 8 and Under Boys 50 FREE – Corey Westerborg (SSC) lowered his own record of 38:81 set in
June 2012 to 37:52(BB)
– 8 and Under Boys 100 BREAST – Corey Westerborg (SSC) broke Iain Macrae's 2009 Record of
1:58:97 with his time of 1:57:43(B)
FOUR new Lions Pool Records:
– 13-14 Girls 200 BACK – Catriona Macrae (SSC) broke J Foster's 2004 record of 2:32:66 with
her time of 2:31:81(AA)
– 9-10 Girls50 FREE – Zororo Motomba (CBAC) lowered her own record of 33:62 set in June
2012 to 32:82(AA)
– 9-10 Girls 100 FREE – Zororo Motomba (CBAC) set a new record with her time of 1:11:96
(AA). The previous record of 1:15:09 was held from 1997 by J Diaz of Staten Island, SSC's Ali Jackson and CBAC's Zororo Motomba both clocked record breaking times in this event; Zororo with the faster time replaces J Diaz as the new record holder.
– 8 and under Girls 100 BACK – Avery Lambert (CBAC) broke L Butlers 2003 record of 1:54:25
with her time of 1:48:86(B)

This was Westerborg’s last meet as an 8 year old so he will now have to turn his sights on new records in the Boys 9-10! Nine Stingray members having posted CARIFTA qualifying times for CARIFTA 2013 in Jamaica so far this season, and the team is focussed and looking to see more records falling in the coming months, more blazing fast swims and more Stingray Swim Club Spirit.

The next Meet on the books for Stingray Swim Club is the Christmas Open Swimming Championships, a Long Course meet which takes place in Jamaica at the National Stadium. There will then be the traditional Back to School Burner and Sprint Meets in January and then a Long Course meet in the Bahamas in February.
 

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Police charge man over loaded revolver

| 23/11/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 41-year-old man is due to appear in court Friday morning following charges brought by police in connection with a loaded revolver seized at his home in Breakers. Police said that the man has been charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm. The loaded hand gun was found following a police operation at the man’s residence on Monday after whichhe was taken into custody. Anyone found guilty of possessing an unlicensed firearm after trial faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years.

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Mac disputes Ritz value

| 23/11/2012 | 148 Comments

_DEW9466(1).jpg(CNS): Full story — The premier has said he does not believe the Ritz Carlton has decreased in value as much as the recent sale suggests and that he will not let the new owners have any new licences or work-permits until government has examined the sale. In a speech transmitted on the government’s new TV channel on Thursday night, McKeeva Bush said that the hotel could not have depreciated by more than half. He said it may have fallen by 20% or even 25% but he did not believe it was down by more than 50% of the $460 million valuation made in 2007. Bush said he would ensure that government got the correct stamp duty on the sale, and that he would collect on the $6 million duty debt that he claimed the new owners were now liable for. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

Responding to comments by the new owners that they had reached out to government in an effort to negotiate concessions over the planned investment inthe hotel and offered to pay the outstanding duty debt but had heard nothing from the premier ahead of the auction, Bush claimed he did write to them.

“Government responded to the request letter of June 14th from … Mr Jim Glasgow of Five Mile Capital in Connecticut, on October 5th,” Bush stated, adding that claims by the new owners' legal representative, Richard Finlay, of Conyers Dill & Pearman, that he had not were “ludicrous.” 

“For him to say such a thing about the government in an attempt to pressure us to agree to things we should never do is an insult, not just to me but the entire duly elected and empowered government,” Bush added.

Linking the entire issue of the Ritz to what he said were Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin’s attempts to be the next premier at all costs, Bush accused thim of being willing to let the country suffer “as a result of his shenanigans” to be in the premier’s chair. He denied that he had missed the chance to recoup the duty debt waiver given to the former owner, Michael Ryan, and his various companies but continued to blame McLaughlin.

“There is no level of hypocrisy and lies that the leader of the opposition will not stoop to in an attempt to blacken my name and the name of the Cayman Islands," Bush said in his live broadcast to the country. "Do they really expect people to take them seriously when for years they have accused me over and over again of getting involved with investors and making deals."

Referring to the fact that Finley is a former colleague of the opposition leader, although it is more than twelve years since they worked together, the premier added, "And to now stand in the House and accuse me of acting improperly, claiming I did not get involved and make a deal that would benefit a client of a law firm that the leader of the opposition has, or has had, a close relationship with and is his old colleague, being in the same firm.”

In a surprising comment the premier said the people should know better than to think he would “give away things rightly due to the people of these Islands”, regarding the concessions. He added that he would never do anything except what is in the best interests of the people of these islands, and especially not to help any group to the detriment of the people.

“There is a proper process to be followed and the government has the right to be paid what it is properly due and I will see that this is done,” he said in relation to the $6 million which is theoretically owed by one of the insolvent companies seized by the new owners, all of which were formerly owned by the developer Michael Ryan.

Bush said the new owners could not expect him to give up the kind of revenue involved in the concessions they wanted. He listed what he said were the “massive concessions” they had “demanded” or they would not meet any of their obligations to pay government the deferred duty that the hotel owes. (See the statement below)

“This is not how things are done in the Cayman Islands, despite them getting the support of the leader of the opposition by his criticism of me, this government does not give in to threats and ultimatums and they were told so in my letter to them on October 5th, a fact conveniently omitted by both the leader of the opposition and his lawyer friend, Mr Finley,” Bush added.

In a press briefing Wednesday, the new owners said they had put forward a list of possible concessions based on the planned long-term investment into the property but none of it was set in stone. Glasgow told the press, “We are logical people,” as he explained that Five Mile had always been willing to negotiate.

However, Bush, who, under the ForCayman Investment Alliance, signed a deal to give 50% of the tax take to the Dart Group (among many other benefits) for all of the hotel properties that company builds or buys, said the concessions that Five Mile wanted were “unacceptable”, beginning with the valuation level of the hotel.

“We know, and they know, that the real value of the Ritz-Carlton is far more than …$177 million. I know that as recently as 2007 the hotel and land was valued by a third party quantity surveyor at over $468 million,” he said, referring to a valuation conducted to assist the former owner raise financing .

Bush said that, using the legal stamp duty rate of 7.5%, government should have received over $37.5 million if the hotel was sold for what he believed it was worth.

However, the new owners said they had marketed the hotel to more than a 1,000 investors, and on the day of the auction only one other bidder turned up. That bidder is believed to be Dart, who refused to even bid the reserve price, saying it was far too high. Nevertheless, Bush insisted that the Ritz value could not have fallen so much, claiming that real estate values have held up fairly well in Cayman.

“No one can tell me that the Ritz hotel and all that property only values $177 million today when just a few years ago it was over $400 million … It could not have deteriorated more than 50%. No!" he declared.

The premier also claimed that had he given in to the new owners' requests for concessions, it would have resulted in millions more losses for government. “The offer to pay the $6million “came with many strings attached, strings that could add up to over $70 million dollars and set dangerous precedents for future governments when dealing with investors,” Bush claimed in his address.

“I have asked the land registry to check into the sale and do all things properly and by the book. They chose to buy the loan of the hotel with full knowledge of the obligations of the hotel and requirements under the law for stamp duty and other fees. They now choose to try and threaten the government to dissuade it, with the help of their friends in the opposition, solicited or not, from doing what it properly needs to do,” the premier added.

Despite numerous criticisms from many quarters about the current administration not always following due process, Bush stated his government would follow all proper processes and the proper regulations, assess the proper value and demand that the appropriate stamp duty be paid before any transfer is made.

“Government will continue to demand its due payment of the deferred stamp duty and will expect it to be paid before any consideration is given to any request for new licenses, work permits or any other of the things that government does on a day-to-day basis in relation to the operation of the hotel,” he said. “I believe that the leader of the opposition took the opportunity to castigate me and it came as a good defence of the people his lawyer friend represents, who don’t want to pay the government the $6 million.

Bush added that the opposition leader “and his friends who wrote in the press should, rather than mocking and insulting me, explain why they think government should give away such a badly needed windfall to people who have not shown any care or concern at all for the Cayman Islands or its people.”

He reiterated that the owners chose to buy the hotel knowing the laws of the Cayman Islands.

“They know they have to pay after the government assessment is done, and pay they will. These are the kind of things that I have always fought against, with those who think they can trample on the Cayman Islands while conveniently making me look bad as I battle for the rights of the people of these islands, and I’m not about to give up on anything because I am right,” Bush insisted.

See statement below on which Thursday night’s broadcast was based.

CNS Poll: The aggressive position the premier is taking in negotiations with the new owners of the Ritz Carlton-Cayman is because …

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