Archive for September 24th, 2014

Ex-minister wrongly shamed

Ex-minister wrongly shamed

| 24/09/2014 | 19 Comments

(CNS): The former health minister is no longer a director of the paving company ARCP that was named and shamed by the department of labour’s enforcement unit this week. Mario Ebanks, Department of Labour and Pensions director, said that due to staffing issues an error had been made and Mark Scotland should not have been named on the list of employers breaching labour regulations, as he apologised to the ex-minister. Scotland divested his shares in ARCP after he was elected to office and became a minister in the last UDP government and has nothing to do with the allegations against the firm for not paying employees.

“Due to the case file manager not being in office during the finalization of the List of Cases, it seems that another officer accessed a previous, and now outdated, Business Registration record, which reflected Mr Mark Scotland,” Ebanks explained. “Our records now confirm that Mr Scotland’s interest had subsequently been divested and therefore did not coincide with the date of the ongoing prosecution."

Offering his apologies to Scotland, he confirmed that the current principals are Peter Young, Samuel Young and Justin Woods.

He added, "I can also confirm that Mr Mark Scotland has been very helpful inrecent months in assisting to rectify this unpaid wages matter, which has now been paid, but it was not done prior to the matter being submitted for resolution through the courts.”

A spokesperson for ARCP told CNS that the firm had begun addressing the outstanding wages last year and partial payments were being made before the matter was submitted to the courts.

Ebanks said Wednesday that the document naming and shaming employers breaching the labour laws had been amended and a correct version was now posted on the NPO website.

The former minister was erroneously named in connection with a disputed court case relating to the paving firm ARCP, where he was a former owner, along with seven other companies and their owners who are facing charges relating to various labour breaches.

Although the enforcement arm of the labour department has been naming and shaming employers who are breaking the pensions law, this is the first list released to the public of bosses whose labour law breaches have taken them to the courts.

With hundreds of employers suspected of breaking numerous labour related laws, the eight cases represent only a tiny fraction but demonstrate some action by the authorities to hold employers to account.

Island Builders Ltd, owned by Dean and Jennifer Scott, face 106 charges of Failure to Pay Overtime Pay, contrary to section 25 (1) of the Labour Law (2011 Revision). That case was mentioned in Summary Court on June 11 and was adjourned to March next year.
The former president of the CITA, Harry Lalli, is also facing 38 charges of not paying overtime, officials revealed, in relation to his company Front Door Cayman Ltd. That case was adjourned last week until next month.

Meanwhile, the owner of Sail Inn Restaurant, Mario Rankin, is facing 28 counts of failing to pay overtime and his case is expected to be back before the magistrate in January. Michael Witter’s M&R Construction has four charges against him for failing to comply with an award of a Labour Tribunal contrary to section 76 of the Labour Law (2011 Revision). This case is expected to be set for a trial date next month.

Aralco Ltd, owned by Winston Salmon, faces one charge of failing to comply with the Labour Tribunal and a trial date is expected to be set for that case next week.

Blue Eyes Granite, owned by George and Sally Craig, faces five charges of failing to comply with the Labour Tribunal. Their case has been adjourned sine die but officials said matters still remain on file.

K9 Security Services, owned by Sterling and Penny Rivers, is the only case on the list in which officials indicated that the 45 charges of failing to pay overtime had been disposed of and the cash owed paid.

See the details on the NPO Website here

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Internal credit card audit focused on poor records

Internal credit card audit focused on poor records

| 24/09/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Details of an audit into government credit card use, which was conducted by the internal audit unit sometime in 2009 and introduced into the McKeeva Bush trial by the defence team this week, did not expose personal use of those credit cards by government staff, the court heard Thursday. Instead it documented numerous charges with missing receipts and poor record keeping on official transactions and the risks that posed. CNS erroneously stated in an earlier article that George McCarthy was chief secretary at the time of the audit and responsible for some $5,500 of non-receipted charges, however as a result of a clarification of dates, the chief secretary in post at the time was Donovan Ebanks. Those charges were also confirmed as legitimate government business.

During the redirection of Franz Manderson’s evidence by the crown Wednesday, Duncan Penny QC queried the current deputy governor about this audit and his involvement following heavy criticisms from the defence that Manderson seemed to know nothing about the report or the audit's findings. However, he confirmed that it took place before he was appointed as the head of the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs.

The attorney clarified with Manderson that the period in question that the auditors had examined regarding the card use was between July 2008 to July 2009 and the findings related to official transactions where receipts were missing as well as general poor record keeping. The report was said to have concluded that the lack of documented procedures could lead to improper purchases but it had not specified any personal transactions.

During the re-examination Penny also asked Manderson to clarify a personal transaction made by the Speaker of the House, about which he had been briefed in 2009 after taking up the top job in the portfolio.

The deputy governor said that he was aware of that transaction, which was said to be “a small amount” at a US supermarket known as Publix. As soon as he learned about the charge Manderson said he asked staff to notify the speaker and request an immediate payment or a deduction from her salary. Asked why he took such steps, Manderson told the court it was because this was not “what the government credit cards are given for”.  

Asked about the representations made after his request, the deputy governor was prevented from answering following an objection from Bush’s defence attorney.

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CS bosses urged to press on with ‘proper process’

CS bosses urged to press on with ‘proper process’

| 24/09/2014 | 8 Comments

(CNS): The deputy governor is encouraging the civil service management to continue to follow the rules when it comes to procurement despite some criticisms in the local press. According to the latest minutes released by his office of an August meeting of public sector heads, Franz Manderson is urging his staff to press on with the major projects in accordance with the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility and recommendations by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG). Discussing the OAG’s reports on major projects and management problems, Manderson said mistakes had been made in the past but he believed lessons had been learned.

In the short account of the high level civil service meeting on 11 August Manderson said significant progress has been made on implementing the recommendations in Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick’s reports regarding procurement. The deputy governor and public sector boss said a major projects office was being established and confirmed that a director of procurement was being recruited and should be in office within the next few months, though he was not specific about the timeline.

Manderson had first announced plans for a procurement office over one year ago at a Public Accounts Committee hearing in September. He said at the time that the new government department would address issues relating to large public capital projects and procurement, develop new laws and establish business cases for public projects. Manderson said some $350,000 has been budgeted for the office.

During the meeting Manderson said that in the meantime major capital projects currently under consideration, such as the seaport, airport and landfill, are all being carried out in accordance with the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility (an agreement signed with the UK and incorporated into local law) and the Auditor General's recommendations. Noting the criticism in the press about the process being followed with some of these projects, he told the bosses “not to be deterred and to continue to follow best practice”.

The DG said the auditor general had expressed a desire to audit the progress of these projects at an early stage and it was agreed that chief officers Jennifer Ahearn and Stran Bodden would meet with the Swarbrick the week after the meeting.

Referring to past mistakes on major capital projects, Manderson said he was of the view that lessons had been learned and that proper process was now being followed and would be followed going forward. This, he added, was in keeping with the vision of providing value for money in everything the government did.

See a copy of the minutes below.

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Cayman records 7th case of chikungunya

Cayman records 7th case of chikungunya

| 24/09/2014 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Another case of the mosquito borne chikungunya virus has been confirmed in a patient with a travel history to Jamaica. Despite two new cases over the last two weeks neither were locally transmitted. Although blood samples from ten new suspected cases have been sent to Trinidad this week for testing and the Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kiran Kumar said the Cayman Islands was still managing to contain the outbreak which is now impacting more than 30 countries in the region.

“As the onset of symptoms of the locally acquired case was on 11 July we feel that we have been able to contain the outbreak through an integrated approach. That includes the Public Health Department, Mosquito Research and Control Unit, and the community efforts.”

Urging the public to take protective measures against mosquito bites during travel abroad but also within the Cayman Islands, he added:  “We cannot afford to become complacent. We will continue to have imported cases as we are in the midst of the regional outbreak.”

Samples continue to be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad for testing and four other results received this week were negative. The patient who tested positive for the virus is a resident of George Town, who had recently returned from Jamaica.  The onset of symptoms took place on 13 September and he is no longer considered infectious. The chikungunya virus is transmitted by mosquitoes biting infected persons during the first week of illness. 

Since Cayman’s first confirmed case in June 46 possible cases have been investigated and seven have been confirmed with only one case confirmed in a patient with no travel history to a country where the virus as caught a hold.

While 11 test results remain outstanding after ten samples were sent this week alone, 26 of the 35 results received have been negative and two were inconclusive. Results of 10 blood samples sent on 22 September are still outstanding and one from those sent the week before.

Of the seven confirmed cases, six had travelled to Dominican Republic, Guyana and Jamaica and only one patient was infected locally. Distribution of all confirmed cases include 3 from George Town, two from Cayman Bracand one in West Bay, the local patient was a resident of Savannah in Bodden Town.

Almost 11,000 cases have been reported around the Caribbean since the vcirus emerged in this region.

Further information can be obtained through Regional updates can be accessed by visiting the CARPHA website on In addition United States updates are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on

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Local festival makes call for storytellers

Local festival makes call for storytellers

| 24/09/2014 | 2 Comments

(CNS): As the Cayman National cultural foundation makes its preparations for Gimistory organisers are looking for storytellers and will be holding open auditions on Saturday 27 September at the Harquail Theatre from 10am until 2pm. Tellers of all ages who want to try out for the much loved festival are asked to come with a story of any genre under six minutes. This year’s festival, which travels to all of the districts and includes local storytellers and musicians as well as performers from around the region, begins on 29 November. The festival which is rated as one of the best of its kind in the world began in 1998 and all performances which take place mostly on beaches are free to attend. For more details contact the CNCF on 949 5477 or email

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DG denies Mac conspiracy

DG denies Mac conspiracy

| 24/09/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): When he took the stand Tuesday as a crown witness, the deputy governor denied being part of a conspiracy orchestrated by former governor Duncan Taylor, FCO staff in the UK and the police commissioner to manage the then premier McKeeva Bush’s arrest and exit from office. Franz Manderson said his involvement in the Bush case was limited to supplying a list of people who had government-issued cards to the police commissioner and ensuring the production order for the statements and other documents was followed. He said he knew nothing about emails that were read to the jury by Bush’s defense attorney from Taylor illustrating the extent of his involvement in the case and the aim to topple Bush from the premiership and ensure he would not be re-elected.

The emails from former governor Duncan Taylor to an FCO official in November 2012, which concerned the Bush case and the allegations against him for misusing a government credit card, were read out by Geoffrey Cox QC to a packed courtroom.

The defense lawyer consistently pressed Manderson about the extent of his involvement in what the lawyer described as an eager and determined effort to oust Bush, direct his arrest and subsequent charges, as well as influence the local political landscape.

When the damning email correspondence was revealed from the then governor to the court, Manderson denied knowing anything about the correspondence or the extent to which it appeared the UK’s representative and the FCO had had a direct hand, not just pursuing the criminal case against Bush but ensuring his public arrest and then having him charged before the May 2013 election.

In the correspondence in which Taylor discussed the case with an FCO bureaucrat, the former governor pointed to what the overseas territories minister should do, what he as governor would say about the arrest, the need for the media and the public to be informed, the impression that the arrest would have and the subsequent police activity at Bush’s home and office. The governor spoke about the need to orchestrate media articles in the UK about the impact on Cayman and the financial sector and much more, demonstrating a direct interest on Taylor’s part in the downfall of Bush.

Playing into the claims that the former premier himself had made, that the charges against him were part of a political conspiracy to remove him from office, Taylor talked about the need for the FCO to move cautiously in order not to play into the hands of Bush's claims that the charges were nothing more than a witch-hunt.

When asked by Cox, Manderson acknowledged that such interference by the FCO or the governor was not right, but he denied being involved in any plan or plot to bring the premier down. Manderson said it was the governor’s job to ensure good governance in the Cayman Islands, as he denied having any part in any suggested plan to find something “to hang on” Bush.

During the cross examination of Manderson, Cox highlighted comments from Taylor to the FCO, illustrating what the lawyer said was the the governor’s eagerness to see Bush arrested but also the situation with Bush and his political colleagues, whom the governor said were already concerned about their leader. Expecting that the arrest would have a significant impact on the then premier’s party colleagues, Taylor said in his email  that he doubted that Bush would resign but hoped that his political colleagues would develop the “backbone” after the arrest to remove him from office and elect a new party leader.

The emails, which were given to the defense as part of the disclosure in the case, left little doubt that Taylor was keen to see Bush arrested, removed from office and charged before the election to ensure he would not be re-elected as leader. The correspondence suggested a degree of manipulation by the FCO in how the publicity of the case over the alleged abuse of the credit cards in casinos would be handled. Taylor had also spoken about public opinion turning against the premier once he was arrested and the details of the alleged offences widely known.

As Cox read the emails to Manderson, the deputy governor insisted that he was unaware of the correspondence and persistently stated that he had not had any part in any alleged plot to bring down Bush, as was suggested by the attorney.

During the morning’s evidence in chief, Manderson had already spoken about the use of credit cards by government officials. He had noted that he had never used his own card for personal use. The head of the civil service said it was the people’s money and it was wrong. When he began to elaborate on the issue, Manderson was interrupted by Bush’s defence attorney and prevented from commenting any further on the use of government cards for non-government purposes.

Asked about an internal audit conducted in government about the general misuse of credit cards which was published just as Manderson became the chief officer in the portfolio of internal affairs, the deputy governor said he was unaware of that report and its results.

Manderson said he did not know about more than $5,500 worth of charges on a government credit card attributed to the former chief secretary, and Manderson’s boss at the time, where there were no receipts to account for the cash. He did, however, say he had been briefed when he became deputy governor that between 2009 and 2012 the speaker of the House had used her card for personal transactions.

The case, in which Bush is accused of 11 counts of abusing his government credit by withdrawing cash in casinos to gamble between July 2009 and April 2010, was adjourned at around 4pm Tuesday until 10am Wednesday. The court is then expected to hear evidence via video link from a Vegas casino before returning to the cross examination of the deputy governor.

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