Caribbean RoundUp

Antigua

Antigua Police say they have recaptured a prisoner who had been serving a 40-year jail sentence for murder after four years on the run.

They said Steven Alphonse had escaped on Jan. 27, 2014 when prisoners were engaged from removing coal from a pit.

He had been sentenced to death in l993 for the brutal murder of a young woman, but appealed the case in 2007 and the sentence was commuted to 40 years in jail.

Alphonse escaped lawful custody on two previous occasions, making his way to the neighboring French island of Guadeloupe during one of these escapes.

Prior to his arrest, police described Alphonse as “dangerous.” He will appear in court on charges related to his escape from prison.

Bahamas

Cable & Wireless plans to invest more than US$170 million in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) over the next three years to deliver the fastest mobile network in the Caribbean.

Of the US$170 million that will be invested in upgrade networks and new services, some US$60 million will go towards additional cell sites and more powerful radio signals across the Bahamas.

On Aug. 29, Cable and Wireless Communication (CWC) and the Bahamas government launched the BTC Foundation — a government-managed national social initiative of the BTC.

The foundation, a charitable trust, which focuses on philanthropic causes, was established as part of a recent agreement between the Bahamas government and CWC to allocate two percent of the previously held CWC shares for Bahamas citizens.

CWC’s investment in the Bahamas is part of Cable and Wireless’ plan to invest US$1 billion in multiple Caribbean territories to revolutionize ICT delivery in the region over the next three years.

Cayman Islands

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) says a Caribbean-based investment advisor has been jailed for 30 months for using offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands to launder funds.

The DOJ said Joshua Vandyk conspired to launder monetary instruments.

Vandyk, a U.S. citizen and Eric St-Cyr and Patrick Poulin, Canadian citizens were indicted by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on March 6.

The indictment was unsealed on March 12 after the defendants were arrested in Miami.

According to the plea agreements and statements of facts, Vandyk, St-Cyr and Poulin conspired to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source of ownership and control of property believed to be the proceeds of bank fraud, specifically US$2 million.

Vandyk and St-Cyr lived in the Cayman Islands and worked for an investment firm based there.

St-Cyr was the founder and head of the investment firm, whose clientele included numerous U.S. citizens.

Poulin, an attorney at law firm based in Turks and Caicos, worked and resided in Canada, as well as the Turks and Caicos, court documents say.

Vandyk and St-Cyr solicited U.S. citizens to use their services to hide assets from the U.S. government, including the IRS.

Guyana

Guyana President Donald Ramotar has expressed optimism about the country’s economic growth based on the 3.2 percent growth rate at the half-year mark.

Speaking at a ceremony recently to mark Brazil’s 192nd anniversary of Independence, he revealed that another large gold mine will be established in the future and this is an indication that investments are on a sound footing in Guyana.

According to the president, while several infrastructural works have slowed due to a lack of quarry material, he has issued instructions for the granting of more quarry licenses that will in turn lead to increased stone production and the construction of roads.

Referring to tourism, Ramotar said this sector has continued to grow because of an increase in investment in the sector.

Concerning the sugar industry, he said there should be better results in the next quarter, but despite the challenge of a slight price decrease, the industry is on the road to recovery.

Haiti

The head of the police service in Haiti has appeared before an investigating judge to answer why law enforcement officials have not arrested former president Jean Bertrand Aristide, who is being investigated on corruption charges.

Police Chief Godson Orelus appeared before Judge Lamarre Belizaire who is conducting the inquiry into the allegations against Aristide.

“We honored the invitation to answer the questions about things the judge wanted to know about,” said Orelus, who confirmed the police were in possession of several arrest warrants.

Aristide and several of his former colleagues have been accused of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars from the state through his organization, Aristide for Democracy Foundation and other organizations during the period 2001-04.

Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest, and his colleagues, including Mirlande Liberus, Yvon Neptune, Jan Nesty Lucian and Gustave Faubert, have also been banned from leaving the country.

Jamaica

Jamaica signed three loans totaling US$105 million with the World Bank to support several government projects.

Finance and Planning Minister Dr. Peter Phillips, who recently led a four-member delegation to the United States, signed the accord, while World Bank Country Director, Sophia Sirtane, signed for the bank.

The loans are in support of three government projects — the Foundation for Competitiveness and Growth, which will receive US$50 million; the Youth Employment in Digital Animation Industry, US$20 million and the Strategic Public Sector Transformation Project, US$35 million.

Dr. Phillips said the loans represent an important cooperation between the government and the World Bank and is aimed at advancing the prospects for growth as the country goes through a strenuous economic reform program that forms part of the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

St. Lucia

The St. Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB) says there has been an increase in visitor arrivals for the island in the first seven months of the year.

Tourist officials announced that total stay over arrivals by air and ferry at the end of July 2014, have surpassed all numbers previously recorded in the island’s history.

At 208,117, visitor arrivals are seven percent higher than the same period last year — a difference of more than 13,000 arrivals.

The SLRB says to further emphasize the significance of this year’s performance, increases were recorded every month so far, with July recording both the highest percentage (13 percent) as well as actual growth (3762).

In addition, the figures recorded in the months of February, March, April and June, were the highest number of arrivals ever recorded in these respective months in the island’s history.

The expansion of the sector is fueled by growth in particular markets, namely the U.S. and UK, the island’s two largest markets, which increased by 14 percent and eight percent respectively, during the seven month period.

Growth was also experienced in the Canadian and European markets, both of which increased by double digit percentages over last year.

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago government is spending TT$633 million (US$10million) to buy 52 armored vehicles – 32 for the Defense Force and 20 for the Police Service to protect the troops from today’s high-powered rifles, grenades and explosives in hostile and dangerous conditions.

This was disclosed by National Security Minister Garry Griffith who said “we are taking our fight to the next level.”

Griffith said the armored vehicles which are different from the armored personnel carriers, are bullet-proof vehicles which look like normal SUVs which will be used for specific elements of law enforcement agencies.

He said in changing times it is important that the law enforcement officials have the necessary tools to be protected when they go out there to protect the citizens.

Griffith noted that armored vehicles are used worldwide and the Ministry of National Security will supplement the Defense Force with these types of vehicles.

He said the vehicles would arrived in the country as soon as the acquisition is finalized.

Jamaica

The Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) has confirmed the United States Coast Guard had pulled out of the search and rescue operation for the aircraft with two U.S. citizens that went down off the coast of the eastern parish of Portland recently.

The U.S. Coast Guard had been offering support to the JDF since they sought to find the aircraft as well as bodies of the two American passengers. The reason for the pull out is not known.

The aircraft with billionaire real estate developer Larry Glazer, 68, and his wife, Jane were aboard the single-engine turbo aircraft that flew on its own for 1,700 miles before running out of fuel and slamming into the sea off Jamaica’s north coast.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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