IFS suspends Cayman operations

Internet Financial Services, commonly known as IFS, has suspended its operations in the Cayman Islands as a result of damages sustained from Hurricane Ivan, the company’s managing director James Knapp confirmed on Wednesday.

IFS suffered severe damage at its location on the third floor of the Britcay House. ‘As far as I’m concerned, it’s a 100-percent loss,’ Mr. Knapp said.

The company, which employed 19 people prior to the storm, specialized in providing various data infrastructure services to offshore companies. It has back-up centres in the Channel Islands of Jersey and just outside of Kalamazoo, Michigan.

IFS had been operating here since 1997. The company had just moved from the Whitehall House (across from the waterfront Burger King) to Britcay House on 1 July.

‘It had taken us a year to build out our new space the way we wanted it, and we were there less than three months when the hurricane hit,’ Mr. Knapp said, adding that his company would have been fine had it still been in the Whitehall House.

Mr. Knapp said he thought he could get the company up and running relatively quickly after the storm, but the lack of an insurance settlement for its loss has necessitated the indefinite suspension of operations here.

‘I was completely insured,’ he said. ‘The insurance company was fine at first, and they even gave me a quick interim payment to keep things going.’

Since that payment, Mr Knapp said that he has found the situation very frustrating. ‘It seemed like every time I called for the adjuster, they had some knew assigned and I’d have to explain everything from the beginning again.’

Mr. Knapp said he estimates that he had $1.5 million worth of equipment that was destroyed, and that he is now being asked to prove that equipment was on site at IFS’s office in order to get paid.

‘I don’t know where some of that equipment is now,’ he said. ‘The building was wide open after the hurricane. I have no idea who was in there.’

Knowing that he will likely have a long battle with the insurance company, Mr. Knapp said he had no choice but to suspend operations here, and that he informed his clients of the action this week.

‘For my business to function, I need a facility and equipment,’ he said. ‘I don’t have either.’

If and when Mr. Knapp receives an insurance settlement, he says he will recommence operations here, but in a different location.

‘My clients have said that they would never go back in that building ( Britcay House),’ he said. ‘So I’m looking at building a purpose-built fortress, that will become ‘the’ place in Cayman for infrastructure and protecting data. Obviously, it will be a long process, though.’

Mr. Knapp said he already has land in mind for his new location that is 15 feet above sea level, and that he would build 15 feet above that. ‘It will be built to withstand anything,’ he said.

In the best case scenario, Mr. Knapp said hopes to finish the building within 18 months.

In the meantime, he will maintain IFS’s registered office and keep the company current on all fees.

Although both of the company’s other offices, in Jersey and in Michigan, are still technically operational, Mr. Knapp said they primarily act as back-up locations for the Cayman office, and as such, he will suspend operation in those locations in March.

Kycos, which provided out-sourced know-your-customer services and in which Mr. Knapp also had an interest, has already ceased all operations in the Cayman Islands.

That company, which was also located in the Britcay House at the time of Hurricane Ivan, is now operating out of its corporate headquarters on the Isle of Man, and in Jersey.