Archive for June 11th, 2013

Mac’s charges consolidated

| 11/06/2013 | 0 Comments

Mckeeva bush at LA.jpg(CNS):  The eleven criminal charges that have been filed against the former premier and leader of the United Democratic Party, McKeeva Bush, may be consolidated, officials said Tuesday. With mounting rumours that the charges relating to theft and corruption offences had been dropped, a police spokesperson stated that the prosecution was on-going. Bush, who is now the leader of the opposition, is expected in court on Friday 28 June, when he will answer charges that include allegations that he used a government credit card to unlawfully withdraw thousands of dollars in cash from ATMs in US casinos while travelling for business and pleasure. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

As the RCIPS and Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) continue their investigations into the former premier of the Cayman Islands and wait on the public prosecutor’s office over what are believed to be at least a dozen further charges, a spokesperson for the police said the RCIPS was aware that the director of public prosecutions (DPP) was considering changing the indictment relating to Bush’s charges. However, the issue was a matter for the crown counsel concerned.

"The case against Mr Bush is now in the courts system and the issues therein may be considered sub-judice. It should also be noted that any decision made in relation to charges and the framing of indictments is a matter for the DPP's office,” the spokesperson stated. "The RCIPS understands that no charges have been dropped but that consideration has been given to consolidating some of the charges … Any confirmation of such action, or any comment relating to it, must be made by the DPP's office and not the RCIPS. It would be inappropriate for the RCIPS to comment further on this matter," she added.

Although Bush already faces eleven charges relating directly to the misuse of a government credit card and abuse of office, investigations into various other allegations, from the infamous Stan Thomas land zoning affair to a more recent transfer of a fee on behalf of Bush to a regional university in connection with an honorary doctorate are also still underway.

However, the UDP leader has categorically denied all charges and allegations against him, accusing local authorities of conspiring with the governor and the FCO, among others, to oust him from political office. He has also denied any knowledge of a $1 million donation paid to the Jamaican based University College of the Caribbean (UCC) on his behalf in connection with the honorary degree. However, the college chancellor admitted that the university’s foundation had received and returned the gift when the special degree that Bush was supposed to receive was not bestowed.

Related articles:

Mac charged with theft

Mac used CIG card in casinos

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Gunman escapes attempted murder rap

| 11/06/2013 | 28 Comments

rankine_0.JPG(CNS): A 35-year-old man from George Town was found guilty Tuesday of a number of offences, including the unlawful possession and use of a firearm and assault. However, he escaped the most serious of the charge against him of attempted murder when the presiding judge said she was unconvinced that the crown had proved Leighton Griffin Rankine Jr had intended to kill anyone. Rankine was charged with trying to kill two men in the car park of a West Bay Road nightclub in February last year after a major altercation, when he opened fire with a handgun. During the trial police officers who were called to the scene said Rankine had the weapon in his hand when they arrived and one man had been shot.

Justice Marva Macdonald-Bishop, who was presiding over the case without a jury, said in her verdict that the crown counsel did not succeed in convincing her that it was Rankine's intention to kill anyone that night. But he was found guilty of being in possession of an unlicensed firearm and the unlawful use of that weapon, as well as wounding and assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm.

The two complainants in this case, Mitchell Wright and Joylon Fredericks, were both treated at the hospital in George Town that night, one for a gunshot wound and the other for wounds sustained in the  fight, which happened in the car park of Club 7, where Rankine was accused of shooting at the men.

Rankine was remanded in custody after the verdict and the sentencing hearing was set for Thursday. Rankine is looking at a statutory minimum of ten years for the possession of the weapon alone. However, because of the use of the weapon and the assault, Rankine could be looking at an even longer stretch.

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Cayman delegation seeking fair play in UK

| 11/06/2013 | 1 Comment

(CNS Business): The Cayman Islands government will be seeking to ensure that the latest OECD initiative surrounding the exchange of financial information is fair and equitable among all countries, onshore or offshore, when they attend the pre-G8 meeting this weekend. Wayne Panton, the new financial services minister, said Cayman’s commitment to the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters was another step in its long history of compliance with international standards and it will not have any adverse impacts on the local financial services sector provided there is a level playing field around the world for information exchange to maintain the jurisdiction’s competitive edge. Read more on this and other stories on CNS Business

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CUC bills going up

| 11/06/2013 | 189 Comments

sparky_1.jpg(CNS): Despite the hefty fuel bills that consumers on Grand Cayman already face due to duty and high oil prices, the local Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) has approved an increase in the basic rate CUC charges customers, which will take effect this month. The ERA confirmed that it has approved an application made by the monopoly electricity supplier in April to increase the rate by 1.8%, further squeezing hard hit consumers. The ERA board said the increase applies only to the CUC base rate, which is being increased from 10.46 to 10.65 cents CI per kWh. This rate equates to about one third of the typical monthly CUC bill, the board noted, so the increase will translate to around 0.5% of a total bill.

As per the law, one of the main functions of the ERA is to "monitor and regulate all licensees in a manner that promotes sustainable competitive practices; provides an opportunity for a fair and reasonable return to licensees; and protects the economic interests and well-being of consumers by keeping tariffs and rate structures as low as can reasonably be achieved," the board said in a release Tuesday.

The ERA added that CUC submitted the application for a base rate hike on 2 April in accordance with the Rate Cap and Adjustment Mechanism (RCAM) described in Condition 25 of the CUC Transmission and Distribution (T&D) Licence.

“[T]he RCAM is based on a formula that incorporates readily available external data to determine the Price Level Index,” the board stated. “The RCAM is calculated using the most recent CUC audited financial statements to calculate CUC’s permitted return on rate base and a weighted average consisting of 60% of the Cayman Islands Consumer Price Index (CI CPI) and 40% of the United States of America Consumer Price Index (US CPI).”

The board said that these indices are adjusted to remove the effects of prices of food and fuel, as reported by independent authorities for the most recent calendar year.

“On review and confirmation of the CUC audited financial reports, the CI and US CPI reports, the 2012 CUC Return on Rate Base and June 2013 Base Rate Adjustment calculations, the ERA approved the CUC 1.8% Rate Base increase on May 10, 2013 which, as a result of 2012 inflation in both the Cayman Islands and the USA, CI CPI and US CPI of 1.0% and 1.9% respectively the Required Rate Adjustment as per Condition 25 of the CUC T&D Licence equates to 1.8%,”  the board said in justification for its decision.

While only a small overall hike, many people in Cayman are already fighting hard to find the money for their light bills and, as the islands head towards the hottest time of year, the battle to keep fuel bills down just got a little harder.

An informational insert detailing how this change will affect the various Consumer Classes has been included in CUC June 2013 Billings, officials said.

More information about the CUC T&D Licence, the Rate Cap Adjustment Mechanism or the ERA, please visit the CUC website or the ERA website

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Bank backs martial arts special programme

| 11/06/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Cayman National is joining a list of local sponsors to back the Purple Dragon Martial Arts scholarship programme for local youngsters who have been identified as having special issues such as behavioural problems, physical challenges or coming from disadvantaged homes. “We have been inundated with reports from families, social workers and teachers who have seen the improvement in children from this programme,” said Sensei Floyd the owner of the martial arts school as he thanked the latest sponsor. “Purple Dragon provides a foundation for personal development and growth. It also helps children apply structure and discipline to their lives,” he added as he explained the need for the support.

“For every sponsorship of a child’s participation fees by generous companies such as Cayman National, their lives are positively impacted,” Floyd said.

Sponsors will gain a contract from each student, committing to regular attendance and timeliness, maintenance of school grades and behaviour reflecting respect for individuals and property. Scholarship sponsors will also receive twice-yearly reports from the Purple Dragon teachers, parents, school and counsellors, tracking the performance of their student.

“Cayman National is delighted to be a part of the Purple Dragon Scholarship programme, as we believe this will significantly improve the lives of our young people by encouraging mental and physical growth through challenging times,” stated Christy Braggs from the bank. 
 

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Activists claim dump victory

| 11/06/2013 | 61 Comments

IMG-20120308-00020 (258x300).jpg(CNS): Following a two and half year campaign to prevent government from relocating Grand Cayman’s landfill to Bodden Town on land owned by the Dart Group, local activists claimed victory Monday following the comments made by the minister for environmental health last week. Speaking at a press briefing, Osbourne Bodden, the district representative and new minister with responsibility for the landfill, confirmed that it was not moving. Celebrating the hard fought victory, the Coalition to Keep Bodden Town Dump Free said the victory showed that the people can stand up and fight to protect their interests against unpopular government decisions. 

“In October 2010, when we launched the Coalition, we were told that this was a ‘done deal,” said Charles Clifford, Bodden’s former political colleague who was defeated at the polls in the district last month. “Many claimed that trying to fight government and Dart was hopeless. But we’ve proven that the people can organize and defeat senseless and unjust decisions … We’ve shown that we can stand up against questionable deals negotiated behind the people’s back and against their interests.” 

Coalition leader and Midland Acres resident, Arlene Whittaker, commended Bodden for what she said was “having the backbone to stand up to Dart” and thanked the Coalition’s many supporters that helped them win the fight.

Gregg Anderson, who was also defeated at the recent national ballot, said the fictitious figures of $100 million in capital costs and $25 million in annual operating costs to deal with the dump on site was mere scaremongering. 

“Local engineers and waste management entrepreneurs operating on Grand Cayman have outlined possible options to the Coalition which could eliminate Mount Trashmore in less than eight years, using small, modular, affordable air burners for waste-to-energy, like those currently used on Aruba, together with recycling, recuperation and resale of what’s valuable at the George Town dump,” he said.

“Structures for sorting and recycling are already in place, although still never used, and there’s neighbouring crown land for expansion. Estimated capital costs put forward are around $10 million – or as much as we continue to sink into the Turtle Farm every year – with some even claiming that a GT waste management facility could pay for itself,” Anderson added.

Coalition leaders are counting on the new government to explore all options openly and with public consultation. Clifford said government could identify the best affordable solution for the people of Grand Cayman by following due process and transparency.

Alan Beiner, the group's chair and the owner of the award winning Turtle Nest Inn, one of the islands’ most popular tourist spots outside of Seven Mile Beach, said moving the landfill and contaminating another site was never a real solution to the problem.

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