Archive for November 6th, 2013

Mystery continues over Williamsons’ death

| 06/11/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police said Wednesday that they are continuing with their enquiries regarding the drowning of 35 year old Patrick ‘Carlos; Williamson whose body was found in a pond just behind his George Town home in Courts Road on Monday 28 October.  A police spokesperson said that officers “will continue to investigate on behalf of the Coroner” how it was that Williamson came to drown but they have not yet stated If the investigation remains a murder enquiry or not. In addition, the RCIPS also confirmed that Williamson had not sustained any injuries of significance before he died. No arrests have yet been made in the case.

The Jamaican national was last seen alive in the early hours of Saturday 26 October when he dropped of a number of friends in the same neighbourhood of his own home after they had been out for the night visiting several local bars in George Town. Sometime during the evening Williamson was said to have been involved in an argument with a man outside Nectar bar but the police have not yet stated if they have found that man or if they continue to pursue that line of enquiry.

Williamson was reported missing on Sunday afternoon and his body discovered in the pond the next morning at around 7am by the landowner. Although the police were treating the unexplained death as murder, the post-mortem at the weekend revealed that Williamson had not be shot, stabbed or significantly hurt in any way before he drowned in the pond.

 

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CIG claims to have completed consolidated accounts

| 06/11/2013 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Despite revelations by the auditor general about the poor quality and challenges still surrounding government’s accounts for last year as well as this, officials from the Finance Ministry are claiming that they have submitted a consolidated sets of financial statements for the Entire Public Sector by the statutory deadline for 2012/13. Government has not been able to consolidate its accounts for more than a decade because of the massive backlog across public authorities. While progress has been made on old accounts after government passed a law allowing it to miss several years, just one week ago Alastair Swarbrick reported on the continuing problems with the public accounts.

Nevertheless, the government issued a statement Tuesday saying that the ministries, portfolios and offices that comprise central government, as well as the statutory authorities and government companies, all submitted their own individual financial statements to the audit office for examination by the legal deadline of 31 August. The ministry also said that by 31 October it had consolidated 40 sets of financial statements into a single set of accounts that show the results for, and position of, the Entire Public Sector and that the auditor general is required to opine on those consolidated financial statements by 30 November.

Although there are actually 41 entities that should be consolidated, there are many more problems with the claims being made by government in addition to officials not seeming to know exactly how many public authorities government is made up of.

Alastair Swarbrick stated last week that there were still significant challenges and problems with the previous financial years and that the submission of accounts is only part of the story, as government is still struggling to supply the standard and quality of information for his office to undertake proper audits.

In his report published last week he revealed that by 30 September of this year, fifteen months after the financial year end, audits for twelve government entities have still not been completed for the year ending 30 June 2012, which continues to prevent government from publishing the full picture of how it spends tax payer’s money.

Asked about the claims by government yesterday, the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) declined to comment and said that they would be issuing a statement in the near future once the accounts had been made public. However, it is understood that the office continues to work on the government’s first efforts at consolidation accounts from last year, making it exceptionally unlikely that government could have committed anything close to what could be considered auditable accounts.

With accounts still missing from some authorities, many government agencies and ministries remaining qualified or even disclaimed, the claims by the ministry’s officials seem at odds with reality of the situation. Given the pressure that the government is under to straighten out the public finances, the apparent continued inability of government officials to grasp the problems will give further cause for concern for Swarbrick and his team in the face of their continued efforts to assist the government entities in improving their accounting standards and practice.

However, Marco Archer, the minister for Finance & Economic Development, congratulated the Treasury Department for complying with the important 31 October deadline.

See the auditor general's report here.

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R&B singer Estelle to perform in AIDS fundraiser

| 06/11/2013 | 11 Comments

(CNS): A week of fundraising for the Cayman AIDS Foundation kicks off with the “Scarlet Sky Gala” on 23 November, featuring Grammy-winning R&B singer, Estelle. Tickets are CI$250 per person and CI$2,500 per table at the ARC at Camana Bay, which organisers say will provide “an intimate lounge feel”, and the night’s events will include a live auction for such items as World Cup tickets and an all expenses paid trip to see the Miami Heat play. The week of activities, called “Think Red Cayman”, includes fundraising dress down days, free HIV testing, a candlight vigil and a church service, leading up to World AIDS Day, a release from the Foundation states.

The Foundation has declined to reveal how much Estelle is being paid to come to the Cayman Islands to sing, though it is said to be a “considerably lower fee than is market value for her performance”. However, a spokesperson for Nathan Square Communications, which is promoting the event, said they were hoping to raise CI$25,000 through ticket sales for the Cayman AIDS Foundation outreach and operations costs for 2014, and promised full disclosure after the event.

“Thanks to our generous sponsors, including the Ministry of Health and DART Cayman Islands, the Cayman AIDS Foundation now has a permanent annual fundraiser, which can contribute on a large scale to its annual operating budget, creating additional opportunities for patient support, free HIV/AIDS testing and education programming,” the spokesperson said.

“We felt our kick-off to Think Red Cayman week 2013 should make an impact and we look forward to presenting an elegant and modern evening with neo-soul and jazz, courtesy of Estelle, along with a live auction element and an intimate lounge feel,” said Cherine Usherwood, President of the Cayman AIDS Foundation. “This event will be one of a kind.”

Estelle’s career as an English R&B singer-songwriter, rapper and record producer is extensive. Her voice has been compared to everyone, from Billy Holiday to Anita Baker. Her many collaborations with Kanye West, The Roots and John Legend (who discovered her) have sealed her place in the neo-soul and hip hop industries. She is best known for her collaboration with Kanye West  on the Billboard-topping track ‘American Boy’, which yielded a Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Grammy for her and West.

Tickets for the Gala are available by contacting 925-6151 or by emailing info@caf.ky.

The theme for this World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths". World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and has continued to be marked since 1988. It is an opportunity to join people worldwide in the fight against HIV, showing support for people living with HIV and AIDS and commemorating people who have died. 

“The mantra for the campaign captures the spirit of this new Caymanian annual movement of activism,” organisers said. “When you ‘Think Red’ you take notice of an epidemic that is changing the shape of our world. Open your heart. Open your mind. Think Red.”

Usherwood and her team and committee members are appealing to the community to become involved in this year’s activities, which includes fundraising dress down days, free HIV testing, a candlight vigil and a church service. For more information on activities, visit Think Red Cayman on Facebook or the Cayman AIDS Foundation.

Think Red Cayman 2013 is sponsored by Dart Realty and the Ministry of Health along with partners Cayman Islands Water Authority, Greenlight Re, PWC and KPMG.

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Cop in dock over bribery

| 06/11/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A police officer who is accused of taking a bribe was in the dock Tuesday in Grand Court facing serious charges under the anti-corruption law. Elvis Kelsey Ebanks, who has denied the allegations, is charged with bribery and breach of public trust in connection with money he is accused of taking from a Filipino national in exchange for not arresting him for theft. When the crown opened its case against the officer, who is suspended from duty, before a jury of four women and three men, prosecuting counsel said they would hear evidence of Ebanks’ crime not just from the witnesses but recordings of telephone conversations between the officer and his victim arranging to meet for money to be exchanged.

The crown said the issue the jury would have to consider was whether or not the man in the dock had abused his power as a police officer to threaten and intimidate his victim into giving him money or whether this was a legitimate loan as the officer has claimed.

Setting out the details of the allegations, the prosecutor said that the incident, in which Ebanks had fallen far short of public expectations of a police officer, occurred last November. At the time of the alleged crime, Filipino national Len Ferraris, who had not been in Cayman long, found a phone on a seat at a Red Bay car wash, where his brother-in-law worked. When no one claimed it, he took the phone and eventually put in his own SIM card and added his photo to the handset’s BBM profile, which led the real owner to him.

The local man who was the owner of the phone reported the issue to the police and he and Ebanks, the officer who was assigned to the case, went to the Auto Spa in Shamrock Road to find the man who had posted his profile on the phone. Ferraris immediately handed the phone over when asked and Ebanks ordered him to wait in his police car. He then discussed the issue with the phone owner, who was merely content to get the phone back and had no interest in pressing charges.

However, Ebanks did not convey this to Ferraris. After the phone owner left the car wash, Ebanks got into the unmarked police car, in which the man waited, and drove away. He then proceeded to threaten Ferraris with a ten year jail sentence for his crime. Distraught and frightened, the man denied being a thief but Ebanks pressed the issue and reportedly threatened him repeatedly before asking him for money.

The man allegedly gave the police officer CI$115 from his wallet, which he said during his evidence Tuesday, via an interpreter, was all the money he had. However, the officer wanted more and as he drove around with the man, he pressed him to find a way to give him more money. Before dropping his victim off, he told him to raise $500 and he would call him to collect it the following Wednesday. This, he reportedly told the man, would ensure he would stay out of jail. Threatening the man further and warning him not to say anything to anyone, Ebanks then drove away.

Ferraris did not remain silent, however, and told a family member, who reported the incident to the police. This triggered an undercover operation and the police recorded calls between Ferraris and Ebanks and the arrangements for the two men to meet again, this time at Countryside Shopping village in Savannah, for the cash to be delivered. Ferraris was given five one hundred dollar bills in a white bag by the police, which had been copied to record the serial numbers, and dispatched Ferraris to the rendezvous.

After the Filipino handed over the money and gained Ebanks’ assurance that he would not be arrested, the undercover cops who were on the scene followed the police officer. They pulled his vehicle over shortly after the exchange and, according to the crown, the officer tried to make his escape but he was blocked by the police involved in the operation. He then refused to get out the car and was forcibly removed by the undercover officers. Despite a struggle, in which the money and white bag was scattered around the area, he was eventually arrested and charged with two counts of bribery and breach of trust.

Ebanks, who remains on bail, has denied the allegations and told the police that the money was a legitimate loan.

The trial continues in court five before presiding judge, Justice Charles Quin, on Thursday morning, when Grand Court reconvenes following a judicial conference on Wednesday.

The crown is then expected to play the recording it has of the conversations between the two men regarding the arrangements for the meetings and the payment of the bribe, which the crown says will demonstrate Ebanks is guilty as charged.

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Woman charged in LC killing

| 06/11/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 28-year-old woman has been charged with the murder of Perry Steven McLaughlihonduran naitonal who was understood to be in a relationship with McLaughlin, was arrested shortly after his body was found in his home on the island. She was expected to appear in Summary Court on Grand Cayman Wednesday, where the case will be immediately transmitted to the Grand Court. With no presumption for bail in the law regarding murder cases, Calderon will remain in custody until a case is made for her temporary release until trial.

Although the police have not yet confirmed the suspected circumstances of McLaughlin’s death, it is understood that he was stabbed several times.

The 54-year-old local businessman’s body was found by one of his employees at around 7am at his home in Gazebo Lane and the alarm was raised. Police on the small island were assisted by officers in the Brac and the helicopter was used to send a lead investigating officer to the crime scene and a scenes of crime team.

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Cayman begins revealing tax-payers details to UK

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(CNS Business): The Cayman Islands has become the first of the overseas territories to sign a FATCA-type intergovernmental agreement with the UK, paving the way for the jurisdiction to automatically share financial information on UK taxpayers who hold Cayman Islands accounts. Another step in the gradual transition to much more transparency in all jurisdictions in relation to offshore finances, the deal is in line with the OECD goal of a single global standard for automatic information exchange by February next year. Cayman’s financial services minister, Wayne Panton, said that Cayman and the UK will monitor the agreement to see that it remains effective against tax evasion while not adding undue compliance costs for financial institutions. Read more on CNS Business

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