TODAY

 
 


1. Jamaican banker pleads guilty to US$220 million fraud- Courtesy of www.caribbeannewsnow.com


Jamaican banker David Smith, the former head of collapsed investment scheme Olint, has pleaded guilty in a Florida court to defrauding thousands of customers of more than US$220 million. The Jamaica Observer reported that, as part of a plea agreement, Smith has admitted guilt on four counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and ten counts of money laundering. He is facing up to 20 years imprisonment, but is likely to get less because of his plea bargaining.      




2. Former US president Carter visits Cuba- Courtesy of www.caribbeannewsnow.com


Former US President Jimmy Carter is now in Cuba. He is meeting with President Raul Castro, the leader of Cuba's Catholic Church and the island's Jewish community. There is speculation that Carter will seek the release of a jailed American aid contractor Alan Gross.  

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3. Seven Guyanese arrested in St Maarten over fake passports scheme- Courtesy of www.caribbeannewsnow.com


Authorities on the island of St Maarten have arrested at least seven Guyanese nationals as suspects in a crime ring involved in selling fake Guyanese passports, Dutch residency papers and identification cards. The St Maarten News Network reported that the arrests were made on Monday, and that the seven persons comprised a mother and her three sons, daughter in law, and two close friends. The latter allegedly sheltered the mother who was hiding from police. The arrests came after one and a half years of intense police investigations.  

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4. Government cut backs begin in Turks and Caicos- Courtesy of www.caribbeannewsnow.com


Some government employees in the Turks and Caicos Islands have received termination notices this week. There had earlier been some specific leaks relating to certain employees being targeted for redundancy coming out of offices in Grand Turk last week, which are this week being borne out by actual layoffs. It appears that, despite some layoffs occurring previously in specific government agencies, more than 600 government employees who do not have official civil service tenure status remained on the government payroll.  

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4. Jamaican extradition enquiry costs double- Courtesy of www.caribbeannewsnow.com


The budget for the Commission of Enquiry looking into the circumstances of the extradition of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke will overshoot by an estimated $21 million (US$246,000), the $37 million originally approved by Cabinet. The Jamaica Observer reported that, answering questions posed by Central Kingston Member of Parliament Ronald Thwaites on Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Bruce Golding said costs to date amounted to approximately $33 million. Golding said it has been estimated that the enquiry will cost an additional $21 million, having been twice extended from its original deadline for the end of February. It has now been extended to May.

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5. Haitian buildings to be reinforced against earthquakes under UN-backed plan- Courtesy of www.caribbeannewsnow.com


Haitian schools, hospitals and other buildings are to be strengthened under a United Nations-backed plan to reduce vulnerability to seismic threats in a country that was devastated 14 months ago by a massive earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people and made 1.3 million homeless.  UN Development Programme (UNDP) seismologist, Eric Calais said “There are crucial decisions to me made by people”. “If people have to choose between buying better quality construction material which is earthquake resilient, or building an extra room with the same cost, of course they should choose the first.”  The plan, launched by the government and UNDP, aims to reduce impacts in earthquake-prone areas by improving resilience of infrastructure and reducing risks for Haitians in poor housing.

   

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6. Joint OAS-CARICOM electoral mission continues activities in Haiti - Courtesy of www.caribbeannewsnow.com

 


The Joint OAS-CARICOM Electoral Observation Mission (JEOM) will maintain its presence in the 11 electoral departments of Haiti until the proclamation of the final results on April 16, 2011, despite the departure of more than 160 observers. The JEOM observers are present in the Vote Tabulation Centre (CTV) round-the-clock since this phase began on March 21, 2011. The observers are monitoring the new procedures put in place for the processing of the result sheets (“procès-verbaux”) and the application of criteria for verification to ensure the integrity and transparency of the tabulation process. An OAS press release stated “The Joint Mission reminds all actors involved in this process and the Haitian citizens that it is essential that a rigorous and consistent verification be done in strict compliance with the criteria established and published by the CEP. This will lead to the publication of reliable preliminary results”. 

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7. Bahamas seeks to cash in on shipwrecks- Courtesy of www.caribbeannewsnow.com

 


The Bahamas government could lay claim to a billion-dollar shipwreck industry, with an amendment to the Abandoned Wreck Act that sources claim could erase the nation’s sovereign debt and stop millions of dollars from leaving the country yearly in illegal salvages. Acknowledging fears of the nation becoming a new “wild, wild, west”, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Charles Maynard confirmed that recent studies done by experts in Florida estimate the total value of wrecks lying beneath Bahamian waters to exceed hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s no small appraisal, given it comes from the team of experts who were instrumental in forming the legislation in Florida. He said “We are being told it could be a billion-dollar industry if properly policed and managed”. “A lot of people have been trying to present any number of scenarios to us, but we are confident with the Florida experts’ estimations.        

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8. Developing countries need to see economic potential of culture, says Barbados official- Courtesy of www.caribbeannewsnow.com


A Barbados government official said that some developing countries have not paid due attention to the development of the socio-economic potential of their cultural sectors.  Deputy permanent secretary in the Division of Culture and Sports and vice chair of the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Committee on Culture, Celia Toppin, said this had occurred even though organisations such as the World Bank, UNESCO and the Inter-American Development Bank had continued to exhort them to diversify their often vulnerable economies. While speaking at the official launch of the Inter-American Year of Culture at the OAS Headquarters in Washington last week, Toppin stated, "The cultural and creative industries are well positioned to provide the sustainable development which is so critical to our future."  

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9. Grenada's ruling party eyes next general election- Courtesy of www.caribbeannewsnow.com


Political leader of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Tillman Thomas, is confident his party can win a second straight general election in Grenada. Thomas, who is also the country’s prime minister, told NDC members and supporters on Sunday that success at the polls would require organisation and commitment at the party level, and refocusing on the party’s core values. In a leadership address at an NDC general council Thomas said “We must live up to the expectations of the core values of the National Democratic Congress. The NDC is the party that upholds the values and principles that Grenadians want to see.”

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10. Trinidad PM says no cabinet reshuffle in May- Courtesy of www.caribbeannewsnow.com


Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, Kamla Persad Bissessar, said that there will be no cabinet reshuffle on May 24 -- the first anniversary in office of the People's Partnership coalition government. The Trinidad Express reported that the prime minister was responding to rumours of a reshuffle, and also made it quite clear that Theresa Baptiste-Cornelius will continue to be minister of health despite calls from members of the Medical Association for her to be removed. It was also reported that Persad Bissessar had assured doctors that Baptiste-Cornelius would be transferred to another ministry, but this has not materialised.  

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