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Olint boss indicted
David Smith, the head of the failed foreign currency trading scheme Olint in Jamaica, has been indicted on 23 charges in the United States. Some 6,000 Jamaicans had invested US$220 million in the operation which turned out to be a ponzi scheme. Most recent estimates Olint with around US$14 million in liquid assets, with 376 people claiming some US$67 million.
In the indictment handed down in the US District Court in the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division Smith is charged with four counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 18 counts of money laundering to conceal specified unlawful activity.
The US authorities are also seeking to seize US$128 million which they claim Smith gained through wire fraud. They have also requested that the court allow them to seize premises in Florida which Smith purchased allegedly with criminal proceeds, as well as precious gemstones and metals, jewellery and other property which are owned by him.
Smith is currently on US$ 1-million bail in the Turks and Caicos Islands where he is facing 30 fraud-related charges.
Dominica PM and Education Minister face trial over dual citizenship
A judge has ruled that Dominica Prime Minister and the Education Minister must go to trial over dual citizenship. They could be ruled ineligible and stripped of their office. Judge Errol Thomas, in a 65 page judgment, said the matter challenging the prime minister's election in the Vieille constituency on December 18 last year on the ground that he holds dual citizenship, was substantial enough to be taken to trial.
Prime Minister Skerrit at the time of the nomination and at the material time, was a person by his own act under an acknowledgment of allegiance and/or adherence to a foreign power or state namely the Republic of France.
Pirates attack in T&T
Pirates of the Caribbean is not just a Disney movie. Pirates have attacked in Trinidad and Tobago. There was a pirate attack in the Gulf of Paria which left three fishermen dead. The three men, who were beaten and thrown overboard, drowned but several others survived the attack. The fishing equipment and boat engines were stolen. Many fishermen have not yet returned to the sea since the incident and it is not certain if and when they will return. Since then the price of fish has risen dramatically, almost doubling since the incident.
CARICOM Secretary General to call it quits
After 18 years in the post of Secretary General of CARICOM, Edwin Carrington, is set to call it quits. Carrington, according to a statement from the body, will quit the post on December 31st. The Trinidad and Tobago national has served as SG since 1992. Secretary General Carrington, a Trinidad national, is the holder of Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Economics, from the Universities of the West Indies and McGill University in Canada. He was also conferred with the degree of Honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of the West Indies and the City University of New York – CUNY (Medgar Evers College).Back to Hot Calaloo
Jamaica`s Bolt forced to end 2010 Season
Jamaican triple Olympian and world record holder, Usain Bolt, has called an end to his 2010 track season. The top athlete, who lost a race for the first time in two years Friday, said he is ending the season and canceling his participation in the IAAF Diamond League meetings – Weltklasse Zurich and Memorial van Damme, Brussels after an assessment from his medical team.
Bolt was reportedly examined on August 9th by Dr Hans Müller-Wohlfahrt in Munich who found a problem in his lower back. He has a tightness that restricts his ability to generate power in his stride and continuing to race in this condition could risk injury to his hamstrings or calf muscles, World-Track and Field reports indicate.
Bolt will need treatment to loosen his back followed by a period of rest but the good news is a MRI scan on his Achilles tendon showed that it has now completely healed.
St. Lucia to become geothermal energy exporter
St. Lucia’s government has signed an agreement with US-based Qualibou Energy for the development of a geothermal plant. If all goes as planned, the plant will generate 12 megawatts of electricity by 2012, and another 108 MW of capacity will be in operation by 2015. What’s intriguing about St. Lucia’s geothermal project is that the country will end up becoming an energy exporter if it succeeds. Through a 30-mile sea cable linking it to Martinique, the plant will allow St. Lucia, to export about 80 MW of electricity to its neighbor by 2015.
St. Lucia has had its geothermal sources tested since the 1970s. US$30 million has been invested in the research and development in the southwestern portion of the island. Qualibou estimates that this are of geothermal activity, located near the small town of Sulphur Springs, has as much as another 170 MW of potential electricity available.
Jamaica gov’t delays backpay indefinitely
The Jamaica government seems defiant. Despite a recent court ruling ordering the Government to pay members of the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF) outstanding wages and fringe benefits, the Government declared the ruling made no impact on its stance that it would not pay $8 billion in outstanding public sector wages and fringe benefits any time soon.
Finance Minister Audley Shaw told journalists "What we have not been able to say is when we will pay it, and we cannot pay within this fiscal year…… We do not have the money" . He warned that if the unions take a position that the money must be paid and the parties cannot reach an agreement, the Government could be forced to cut staff to accommodate the payment
One week earlier, Justice Roy Anderson labeled as disrespectful or indifferent the Government's approach in refusing to pay outstanding amounts due to members of the ISCF. In a 41-page ruling with implication for the entire public sector, Anderson ordered the Government to honour its agreement to pay the policemen and women the seven per cent increase due in the second year of the 2008-2010 wage period.
Strike at Guyana sugar company
Some workers at Guyana Sugar Company (GUYSUCO) went on strike in response to disciplinary action against nine of their colleagues blamed for a fire at the Skeldon Sugar Factory on August 7. GUYSUCO said the fire was as a result of "gross negligence, which caused extensive damage, and remedial work will cost millions of dollars, coupled with the loss of three days production".
The sugar company encouraged its employees to solve their concerns through dialogue with officials rather than strike action. GUYSUCO claims that the strike action came at a most "inopportune time, with 480,000 tonnes of canes to be harvested and with the industry set to commence production for its second crop of 2010.
Jamaica police fires 149 officers
The clean-up seems to be in full swing as the Jamaica Constabulary
Force (JCF) said it has fired 149 officers between January and July this
year. It described the firings as an aggressive and ongoing campaign to
rid the police force of unprofessional officers.
Jamaican teachers got a well needed boost recently. The powerful National Education Association (NEA), the largest labour union for public-school teachers and support personnel in the United States (US), has thrown its weight behind Jamaica's teachers in its salary dispute with the Government. The NEA president, Dennis Van Roekel, who was guest speaker at the opening session of the 46th annual conference of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) , disclosed that the NEA sent a protest letter to the US Treasury Department over reports that pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was causing the Jamaican Government to violate contracts with teachers.
Van Roekel, whose union is 3.2 million members strong, told reporters at the conference that he recently wrote to US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner seeking his intervention in the matter. Van Roekel is insisting that students should not be made to suffer because of the economic crisis.
The JTA and the Government of Jamaica have been at loggerheads over salary issues because the State has failed to comply with agreed payment schedules for salary arrears, for the period April 2007 to March 2008, for the union's 23,000 teachers. The Government has cited fiscal constraints for its inability to pay.
Jamaica govt. sinks Bank of Ja. deeper in debt
Jamaica’s fiscal crisis worsens as The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) advanced an additional half a billion dollars to the Government of Jamaica in a two-week span, sending the central bank deeper into the red at August 11. Its losses were disclosed at J$10.2 billion, up from a loss of J$9.7 billion at July 28. At the same time, financial institutions in hock to the central bank have reduced their debt by J$1.4 billion since late July.
Financial houses now owe the BOJ J$16.2 billion, while the Government owes J$10.2 billion. A year ago, the Bank of Jamaica was reporting profits of more than J$16 billion.
T&T owes contractors $7 billion, building industry facing collapse
The construction industry in Trinidad and Tobago could collapse within
three months if the government does not pay contractors the money owed to
them. Mikey Joseph, president of the Contractors' Association of Trinidad
and Tobago, estimated that figure to be more than $7 billion. He
recommended that the government dip into the Heritage and Stabilisation
Fund (HSF) to pay contractors the outstanding debt.
Jamaican cement co. halts production twice in 3 months
Caribbean Cement Company Limited has announced a shutdown of production for the second time this year - the first as safeguard against damage from civil unrest, the second due to an underperforming market.
The company, which now has four months of supplies backed up in inventory, has shuttered Kiln 5 for 40 days and sent workers off on involuntary leave.
The decision gives Caribbean Cement breathing room to address its operating cash position, which was in deficit by J$209 million at June 30. The company was up to then running a bank overdraft of J$187 million. The closure will also give the company breathing room from high overheads linked to electricity diesel fuel charges.
The first closure - a complete shutdown of the plant - during the west Kingston upheaval had been "very costly" to Caribbean Cement, the company said without disclosing figures in its second quarter financial filings to the stock exchange. That lockdown would have lasted a few days; the current suspension will last more than a month but does not extend across the entire operation.
Caribbean Cement is struggling with reduced sales at a time when it needs a boost in revenues to pay for the expensive US$177 million modernisation project completed last year that close to doubled the Rockfort plant's capacity from one million to 1.8 million tons of cement per annum. It also had to contend with illegal dumping of cement in Jamaica by a US company. (see US company guilty of dumping cement in Jamaica in the June/July 2010 issue.)
US deportees stats
Deportees have long been blamed for an escalation of crime in Jamaica
and the wider Caribbean. Last year, for the Caribbean region, the top
three nations receiving the most deportees, were the Dominican Republic,
Cuba and Haiti. It is a marked difference from previous years, when
Jamaica always dominated the top listing. And there is also more good news
for the wider Caribbean. Less deportees were actually sent back to those
three nations and the region last year, according to an analysis of the
Haiti received 719 of its own last year, compared to 1,098 in the
previous year. Jamaica recorded 675 in 2009, compared to 1,641 in 2008.
However, most of those returned were criminal aliens.
Twenty-three were sent back to St. Lucia, 22 to St. Vincent and five to St. Kitts. Eighteen were sent back to Suriname while 19 were returned to Grenada. Four each were deported back to Aruba, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
Mexican nationals accounted for 86 percent of the 613,003 aliens apprehended in 2009. The next leading countries were Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, China, and Brazil. A total of 393,000 foreign nationals were removed from the United States last year, the seventh consecutive record high. Of that number, 128,000 were known criminal aliens.
The number of removals increased 10 percent to 393,289 in 2009 from 358,886 in 2008. The number of non-expedited removals increased 17 percent from 2008 to 2009.
Some 580,000 foreign nationals were returned to their home countries without a removal order. Eighty-five percent of returns in 2009 involved Mexican or Canadian aliens. The next leading countries were the Philippines and China with 3 percent each and Ukraine with one percent.
T&T to move to recover millions from Jamaat al Muslimeen
Members of the Jamat al Muslimeen will pay for the attempted overthrow
of the T&T government in 1990. The Trinidad and Tobago government is
to take steps to seize properties owned by more than 50 members of the
Jamaat al Muslimeen who participated in the 1990 attempted coup.
Dengue fever outbreak in the Caribbean
Dengue fever is reaching epidemic stages across the Caribbean, with dozens of deaths and more than 80,000 cases reported in the region as of early September, according to the Pan American Health Organization. Dengue is an infection caused by a virus spread by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. This mosquito will breed in any container where water is allowed to settle. These containers are often found in and around the home, school and workplace and include vases, tins, tyres, drums, plastic bags and coconut shells.
In the French Caribbean departments (colonies) of Guadeloupe and Martinique the French army has been deployed to to help fight a dengue epidemic, which has been spreading since December. At least 13 people have died of the mosquito-borne virus since the beginning of February. Guadeloupe has been the most affected, with some 33,000 cases reported since December 2009. Martinique has reported 25,600 cases. France’s overseas departments in the Caribbean regularly experience dengue epidemics, but since 2005 they have become more frequent.
In the Dominican Republic, which has reported 41 deaths and nearly 9,000 cases., hundreds of health workers and soldiers have gone door-to-door to warn about the virus and destroy mosquito breeding areas
In Trinidad and Tobago 1,022 cases have been reported and four deaths.
In Jamaica 123 cases have been reported with one death. The Ministry of Health has been given J$60 million for a vector-control program to arrest the dengue fever outbreak across the island.
In Barbados 98 cases have been reported with one death.
Guyana rejects Norway's charge of rainforest damage
Guyana has rejected Norway's claims that a South American operation of
the Malaysian forestry company Samling Global was damaging a section of
the Amazon rainforests but admitted there were a few infractions that had
However, Guyana's Minister of Forests, Robert Persaud pointed to
evidence by the state's forest regulatory agency showing that Samling's
entity in Guyana, Barama Company Limited, was not damaging the
Jamaican college team wins international IT competition
The Jamaica Government and the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) have celebrated the stunning achievements of Team Xormis, which recently emerged champions of the Microsoft Imagine Cup Interoperability Competition.
The NCU team rocketed past 90 competitors from across the globe in preliminary contests before beating Brazil and Indonesia in the world finals in Warsaw, Poland.
The team of NCU students Derron Brown, Markel Mairs, Dwayne Samuels and Shawn McLean was yesterday recognised at a luncheon in honour of their success at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston. Also recognised at the function was Team Educ8, another NCU team that made it to the Imagine Cup world final in the software design category.
The Imagine Cup is the world’s premier student technology competition. Open to students around the world, the Imagine Cup is a serious challenge that draws incredible talent—and the competition is intense. The 2010 competition spanned one year—beginning with local, regional, and online contests—to end this year with the Imagine Cup 2010 Worldwide Finals in Warsaw, Poland
Several corporate sponsors awarded the team members with a number of cash prizes and gifts in recognition of their achievements. They will also benefit from free tuition for the remainder of their studies at the institution, courtesy of NCU.
Suspicious swine flu scare
Remember how they put the fear of God in us about swine flu? Well it seems it might have all been a money-making hoax. Suspicions have arisen about the recent swine flu scare. It has emerged that a third of the experts advising the World Health Organisation about the swine flu pandemic had ties to drugs firms. Five of the 15 specialists who sat on the emergency committee had received funding from pharmaceutical giants, or were linked to them through their research. The revelation will prompt speculation that the 'pandemic' was wildly overestimated and largely fuelled by the drugs industry who stood to benefit from the panic.
Last month it emerged that the British Government had squandered more than £1.2 billion tackling swine flu - most of it going towards vaccines following experts' dire predictions that as many as 65,000 Britons would die. In fact the virus claimed just 457 lives - a third of those killed every year by ordinary seasonal flu.
But today it emerged that many of the scientists on the WHO's emergency panel had links with firms including GlaxoSmithKline, who made millions manufacturing swine flu vaccines. It follows revelations by the Daily Mail earlier this year that more than half of the scientists advising the British Government's own taskforce on the pandemic had links to drugs giants.
Grenada to benefit from Libyan assistance to OECS
Grenada is to receive about EC$5 million as part of a grant package from Libya to Eastern Caribbean countries. The package, an ongoing effort to strengthen and develop relations between Libya and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, was finalised during a recent visit to the North African country by representatives of OECS nations, including Prime Ministers Denzil Douglas of St. Kitts-Nevis, Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica. Grenada was represented by Foreign Minister Hon. Peter David.
The OECS delegation, which also included the foreign ministers of St. Lucia and Belize, visited Libya following attending an African Union summit in Kampala, Uganda.
Meanwhile, a Libyan delegation is expected to visit the Caribbean next month to follow up on several agreements, including
Jamaican bank serves the sick and needy
Staff at First Caribbean International Bank Ocho Rios recently, served residents of the St Ann Infirmary with hot lunches and drinks and presenting a deep freeze to the institution.
The 19-member team, including workers, supervisors and managers at the bank:
This benevolence was a continuation of efforts by the bank to assist the infirmary. Last year, the bank twice visited the institution, feeding the infirm and donating items, including benches. There are 114 residents at the infirmary.
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