Chamber pension plan holds election

A two-and-a-half hour meeting Thursday night ended in the appointment of a new board of trustees to administer the troubled Chamber Pension Plan, although there were questions as to the legality of members’ elections raised by some in attendance.

By press time, it had not been confirmed by anyone whether the Chamber plan was fully operational without the need for supervision or direction of Cayman Islands government regulators.

The Cayman Compass revealed last week that the Chamber plan, which is sponsored by the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce, had been under the direction of the National Pensions Office since February – not having properly elected its board trustees since at least last year.

The order stated that at the time it was issued, Feb. 24, that there were only two legally standing trustees who had been appointed as interim board members, not enough to maintain a quorum for meetings under the Chamber plan’s trust deed.

The issues with the plan surrounded “resignation of board trustees or improper appointment of trustees,” Acting Pensions Superintendent Mario Ebanks said last week. Mr. Ebanks was in attendance at the plan members meeting Thursday night.

A journalist from the Compass was not allowed to attend the meeting and it was understood one journalist from another on-island blog was forced to leave the meeting at the Westin Resort. Another journalist from a different publication was allowed to attend the meeting because that publication and its employees are members of the Chamber Pension Plan.

Mr. Ebanks has said that the problems with the Chamber retirement plan were “an administrative or governance issue,” not a financial one. More than 16,000 individual members invest in the Chamber plan, which is the largest private sector multi-member retirement fund in the islands.

The Compass did not receive a response from either Chamber-appointed trustees on the pensions board or answers to questions sent to Chamber of Commerce administrators about the status of the pension fund last week.

According to the February order signed by Mr. Ebanks: “As a result of not being quorate [having enough members], the plan cannot be legally administered in compliance with the [National Pensions} Law …. The board of trustees is therefore defunct [and] unable to make decisions.”

The order placed Chamber appointees Eduardo D’Angelo Silva and Rodney Waddell in charge of plan operations for the time being with “limited supervision by the National Pensions Office.”

Pension plan general manager Bill Fleury left that job in March for reasons that were not stated.

According to the pensions office order, the pension plan is required to confirm its compliance with the order and issue on the 15th and 30th of each month fund management accounts, statements for the entire fund portfolio, a listing of total members of the plan and financial liability and dollar volumes or new members joining or leaving the plan.

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