Archive for March 12th, 2013

Premier faces Ritz writ

Premier faces Ritz writ

| 12/03/2013 | 75 Comments

GcmRitz_01.jpg(CNS): Updated 5:30pm — The interim administration, and in particular the new premier, is facing legal action in connection with the sale of the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman as the new owners claim it has failed to deal with the transfer but has cashed the US$11 million transfer tax cheque. RC Cayman has filed an application with the Grand Court seeking a Judicial Review over government’s failure to register the transfer of title to the new owners since December, despite repeated requests. The new owners also allege that government is in collusion with the former owner and is attempting to extort the $6 million duty debt run up by Michael Ryan.

Last Thursday, Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly confirmed that her ministry was still examining the sale, which took place at auction in October 2012. The former premier, McKeeva Bush, instigated the review of the sale as he accused the buyers, who are also the creditors of the former owner’s debt, of manipulating the sale and undervaluing the hotel. In a statement to the nation he said he intended to ensure that the firm paid more duty and also tied them to the duty waiver debt that had remained unpaid by the former owner Michael Ryan’s various companies.

The new owners have suggested that this is blackmail and government’s failure to act lawfully where the sale is concerned is also a breach of the anti-corruption law. The owners have suggested that Ryan has been involved in the statements that were made by Bush. After the current premier’s failure to respond to the correspondence from the new owners, RC Cayman said it was forced to seek intervention from the courts to prevent the government from acting unlawfully.

RC Cayman Hotel Holdings Ltd and RC Cayman Property Holdings Cayman Ltd, who are the new owners of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, took possession of the resort from the former owner and developer, Ryan and his various companies, after he defaulted on the debt owed to its parent company.

The owners assert that government has unlawfully failed to register the transfer of lands relating to their purchase of the property and has unlawfully failed to adjudicate Stamp Duty on the transfers, in accordance with the valuation agreed in October last year by its own chief valuation officer.

“We have repeatedly written to the government and most recently on February 19 and February 25 to the current Premier and Minister of Finance, asking for the transfer to take place. To date we have not received the courtesy of a reply from the government,” said Jim Glasgow, a Director of RC Cayman Property Holdings Ltd.

Unable to secure even an acknowledgement from the Office of the Premier and Minister of Finance, the owners said they were forced to exercise the option of legal action. The application for the judicial review, which was filed Monday afternoon by Conyers, Dill and Pearman, lists the registrar of lands, the chief valuation officer and the premier and minister of finance.

“We are institutional investors in the Cayman Islands who purchased a property following the established rule of law. We have followed the established and agreed processes and simply want the government to do what it is legally bound to do," added Glasgow.

He said the Ritz-Carlton hotel was an important part of the local tourism industry and since the foreclosure auction they have invested over US$71 million "to guaranty stable ownership and have approved planned refurbishment for the hotel in excess of US$12 million for 2013."

Glasgow said that it was extremely difficult to justify investing the capital into the hotel and the local economy without the government registering the transfer of title, particularly when there is so much uncertainty about what laws the government will or will not decide to follow. 

“The government cashed our US$11.6 million check for transfer taxes on December 28, 2012 and is violating the law by not recording the deed,” he stated.

See full details of grounds for the JR application on CNS Business.

Related articles on CNS and CNS Business:

Ritz needs investment

Mac blew last chance for 6m

Mac disputes Ritz value

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Woman mugged in GT street

Woman mugged in GT street

| 12/03/2013 | 25 Comments

CS tape.jpg(CNS): A 64-year-old woman was mugged in broad daylight in George Town Tuesday morning when a gold necklace was snatched from around her neck. The police said the woman’s jewellery, a chain with a Spanish gold coin pendant, was pulled from her neck by a man riding a bicycle at around 9:05am today. The woman was walking in Tigris Street, off Shedden Road, when the male cyclist approached her from behind. He grabbed the necklace and rode off into Myles Lane. Although the woman sustained a slight neck injury during the incident, she did not require any medical treatment. The suspect has been described as being between 15 and 21 years of age, of slim build with a dark complexion.

He had short dark afro hair and was wearing a black shirt and dark coloured pants. The bicycle was also dark in colour.

Anyone who was in the area this morning and witnessed the incident, or the cyclist making off from the scene, is asked to contact DC Terryanne Iton of George Town CID on 325-6705.

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YCLA presents controversial keynote speaker

YCLA presents controversial keynote speaker

| 12/03/2013 | 6 Comments

allen_west (290x400).jpg(CNS): US army veteran, former congressman for Florida and the director of Next Generation Programming, Allen West, has been invited to speak at this year’s Young Caymanian Leadership Awards (YCLA) on Saturday 23 March. Although West is seen as a role model for leadership through the specialist programming, which encourages followers to stand up for the nation’s collective future, he also has something of a controversial military history. While serving in Iraq during the second Gulf War he was charged with violating articles 128 (assault) and 134 (general article) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice as a result of the methods he used to extract informaiton from a prisoner.

Although West ended up facing an Article 15 proceeding (a non-judicial hearing) rather than court-martial, he was fined $5,000 and retired with full benefits in 2004. After leaving the army he was elected to the House of Representatives by the constituents of Florida's 22nd district. In January 2013, he joined PJ Media as the Director of Next Generation Programming.

"We are very excited to have Allen West as our guest speaker at this year’s YCL, at a time when all eyes are focused on the importance of leadership in the Cayman Islands”, stated Melissa Wolfe of the Young Caymanian Leadership Foundation. “Next Generation TV’s goals are a perfect fit for our mission to restore and promote the values and principles upon which our nation was built and our quest for putting forward the most positive example of leadership in all the roles we play in life. We really can make a difference to the choices our children make and what happens to them in our community,” she added.

West supported the Tea Party movement and rejected the notion that it was motivated by racism. He has been described as a "tea party star" and became a member of the congressional Tea Party Caucus in February 2011. West, along with Tim Scott, became the first African-American Republicans in Congress since J.C. Watts retired in 2003. A darling of the Republican right, he is viewed as a "torch bearer" and "conservative icon", who has made many controversial statements about Muslims

Officials said thateach year the YCLA planning committee, made up of the YCLF and its event partners, Cayman27, Celebrations and the Ritz-Carlton, develop a new theme with fresh, strong messaging that will resonate in the community; for 2013 the theme is "Be The Difference, NOW".

YCLA 2013 will highlight the urgent need for immediate strong leadership and community involvement at all levels in order to help inspire hope in our young people, officials said.

“We all need to ask ourselves, what am I doing to make a difference?” asked Jackie Hansen, Director of the YCLF Honorary Board. “Our youth are increasingly preyed upon by negative influences. Now, more than ever, we need to understand and apply the unique principles of leadership in our homes, schools, churches and across our community.”

This year’s finalists are Michael Blackburn, Marzeta Bodden, Victor Crumbley, Melanie Scott and Shomari Scott.

The awards on Saturday 23 March will be televised live on Cayman27.

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Dog walkers in trouble at local pound

Dog walkers in trouble at local pound

| 12/03/2013 | 29 Comments

AdoptMe (377x400)_0.jpg(CNS): Volunteers who walk dogs, foster the abandoned pets and offer their services to assist the local Humane Society are embroiled in a row with the charity’s officials over a new waiver they have been asked to sign which the society says is a requirement of its insurance cover. As a result of what the charity officials say is the unregulated behaviour of volunteers and the need for insurance at the pound, dog walkers and other helpers are being asked to sign the document, which sets out the rules and regulations. But some volunteers have objected and have made accusaitons about management wanting too much power.

Some of the volunteers say they ar concerned about a clause in the waiver that prohibits them from being charity directors or being formally employed by the society, which, they say, has nothing to do with insurance.

The local television channel Cayman27 spoke to Terrie Farrington from the charity's board, who said that unless the volunteers sign the waiver they will no longer be allowed on the premises to take care of the furry residents at the pound. She described the volunteers as being “obstructive”, but volunteers believe it is about limiting their power and concentrating power in the hands of the charity’s management.

The charity claims this is not the case, and while a few volunteers have refusedto comply with the waiver, new walkers have joined and the dogs, contrary to comments on Facebook, are being walked and taken care of as usual.

“It’s business as usual here,” said Farrington.

In a statement posted on the charity's website, the management accused some volunteers of making "threats" to the board and management. The statement said it was from "a very small minority" as a result of  "a narrow focus and without regard to the big picture."

The officials said the waiver for all volunteers is necessitated by the society's new insurers after the old cover was terminated because of the actions of some volunteers.

"Without insurance, we cannot remain open. Fortunately, we have been able to obtain cover from an alternative provider. This insurance cover is only available to us if each and every volunteer signs the insurance waiver," the statement on the site reads. "We simply cannot afford to go bare of insurance cover in this litigious age. We are cognizant, however that we cannot function without our volunteers."

The management said the charity could no longer function in the way it had "with volunteers coming and going as they wish, without the approval of management".

The statement said volunteers could not arbitrarily take animals for medical treatment, running up hundreds of dollars in vets bills, without the knowledge of management, nor could the society afford to cover the cost of disappearing foodstuffs.

The documents were drawn up by lawyers and compare to waivers used at other shelters and charitable organizations, the Humane Society stated.

Go to Cayman 27 video

See more at the Humane Society website.

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Reality TV model to host local fashion show

Reality TV model to host local fashion show

| 12/03/2013 | 21 Comments

url_1.jpg(CNS): Internationally known actress, host and model, Eva Marcille, the winner of cycle three of the TV reality show, America’s Next Top Model, will be hosting this year’s Cayman Islands Fashion Week, where a collection of cutting edge international designers will be displaying their work during the four day event. Organisers are promising 12 designers this year from London, New York, Africa, Dubai, the Caribbean and the Cayman Islands. After the success of our two previous events under the umbrella of Cayman Fashion Solstice and in an effort to engage the international market, the fashion event has been rebranded Cayman Islands Fashion Week.

Eva Marcille presently hosts Oxygen’s Hair Battle Spectacular and is known as Tyra Hamilton on the soap opera, The Young & The Restless. She has appeared on the cover of Brides Noir, Women's Health and Fitness (May 2005), King magazine (June 2005), IONA(November 2005), and Essence magazine.

“Her prominent presence and eye for fashion makes her the perfect representative of international and local Caribbean designers that are on the cusp of breaking onto the global fashion stage,” officials from the event said.

The three day event will feature the Culture & Style Welcome Party – April 25th, The “MyStyle” Soiree – April 26th and the 2013 Runway Fashion Show which is scheduled to take place on Saturday April 27th at the Island Air Hangar.  The four event runs from 25 – 28 April.

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Canadian and US teams heading to Cayman

Canadian and US teams heading to Cayman

| 12/03/2013 | 0 Comments

princeton_0.jpg(CRFU): March will be busy for Cayman rugby with Ashbury College (Ottawa, Canada) and Princeton University RFC (New Jersey, USA) visiting to face off in a series of games against the National Men’s U19 team, the National Men’s XV and Cayman select sides (featuring players not otherwise eligible to play for Cayman from the local CRFU club sides). Princeton University, an Ivy League college, has a strong showing in rugby having won the Ivy League Championships in 2004, 1979,77, 73, 71 and 69 and the National Men’s XV with their lackluster showing against top US college team Dartmouth (this time last year) will be out to get their 2013 international preparations to the best start possible.

Cayman vs. Princeton RFC
18 March: 5pm KO – Cayman National XV v Princeton University XV
19 March: 5pm KO – Cayman Select XV (Iguanas RFC & Buccaneers RFC) v Princeton University B XV
21 March: 5pm KO – Cayman Select XV (Pigs Trotters RFC & Cayman Storm RFC) v Princeton University B XV
22 March: 5pm KO – Cayman National XV v Princeton University XV
Ashbury College RFC are no strangers to Cayman, last visiting in 2005 and based on their close games against Bermuda (in their 2010 tour to the Caribbean) should pose stiff competition to the Cayman boys who like their older counterparts are preparing for their Caribbean Championships
Cayman vs. Ashbury College RFC
13 March: 5pm KO – Cayman U19 XV v Ashbury College XV

16 March: 5pm KO – Cayman U19 XV v Ashbury College XV

19 March: 3pm KO – Cayman U19 XV v Ashbury College XV

All games are free to watch at the South Sound Rugby Ground or viewable online at


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Consultation too short

Consultation too short

| 12/03/2013 | 22 Comments

091 (309x400).jpg(CNS): Having been given at least seven long bills on Thursday evening just a few days ahead of a business committee meeting at the country’s parliament on Monday, Ezzard Miller said the interim government’s efforts at consultation fell far short. The independent member for North Side said the stop-gap Cabinet had essentially presented the stack of bills it wanted passed and then asked for support from the two independent members and the opposition but they had not consulted with them on the content. Miller said that he would offer his support on some of the legislation but real consultation would have included all members in the process before the bills were finished.

“This is not adequate consultation as we should have been more involved at an earlier stage,” he told CNS ahead of Wednesday’s meeting of the Legislative Assembly. “We are being given the final product and asked to support it. That is not consultation.”

He could offer his support to some of the bills, he said, but he had been given very little time to read and consider the laws and amendment, never mind consult with his constituents about their possible impact.

“My recommendation is that the government delay parliament until next week to give us all time to consider the bills and consult with the people on what we can support, what needs to change and what cannot be supported. I already have concerns with the health practitioner’s bill and, given the lack of time to discuss all of this legislation, I won’t be able to offer my support,” he added.

With the interim government in a minority, the new Cabinet is dependent on four other MLAs from the opposition benches, their former UDP colleagues or at least two of those members in combination of the two independents to pass any legislation before the Legislative Assembly is prorogued ahead of the 22 May General Election.

Despite the minority government’s inadequate consultation, Miller said that the arrangement following the fall of the original UDP government had gone reasonably well. He said that he had not expected any major change when he supported the remaining five former UDP members holding office until the national polls as they were the same government.

“Given the circumstances this is essentially a continuation of the UDP,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting any great departure and in the short space of time. It was anticipated that they would continue on with the policy as there hasn’t been time to create a new direction as things were too far advanced.”

However, Miller said he welcomed the move by Cabinet to re-introduce the weekly press conference.

“This is a move in the right direction and, if I am in government on 23 May, in addition to weekly press conferences I will have a weekly open house one day a week for anyone to come and ask questions," he added. 

The Legislative Assembly is scheduled to meet on Wednesday morning at 10am and the interim government has a number of laws it needs to push through, including bills related to the budget and fee increases, various health related laws, including the Organ Donor Transplant Law, which is one of the conditions government must meet in connection with Dr Devi Shetty’s hospital project along with the Health Practitioner’s bill.

The Marine Conservation law is also being amended, among other,s to protect several species of local rays throughout all of Cayman waters.

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