The Cayman Islands welcomed two new residents on Jan. 1. Jemima Violet Kendall was born at 4:40 a.m., weighing 7 pounds, 15 ounces, to Emma and Peter Kendall. Kasper Powery was born about six hours later to Khylar Miller and Daniel Powery. The young Powery was born weighing 8 pounds 8 ounces.
A New York police officer, vacationing on Grand Cayman, was lounging at Smith Cove when he saw a man steal a purse. He ran after the man and tackled him, holding the thief until local police showed up.
The BBC documentary “Britain’s Trillion Pound Island” debuted in late January, leaving many in Cayman critical of the hour-long program.
Presenter Jacques Peretti originally told many people he interviewed that the filming was for a lifestyle series, but the program ended up focusing on Cayman’s “tax haven” image.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s 300-foot luxury yacht Tatoosh destroyed 13,000 square feet of reef when it dragged its anchor and chain over the reef.
Mr. Allen eventually agreed to pay for the damage and restoration work for the reef inside the West Bay Replenishment Zone, which falls inside the Seven Mile Beach Marine Park.
The month ended with 24-year-old Monyque Brooks being crowned Miss Cayman. Erin Nicole Hislop was first runner-up and Schilo Scott was second runner-up.
A jury found one-time Young Caymanian Leadership Award winner Canover Watson guilty on five charges of fraud, conflict of interest and breach of trust. Watson, in the months-long trial, faced charges that he used his position as chairman of the Health Services Authority board to skim hundreds of thousands of dollars through a swipe-card payment system.
Prosecutors accused Jeffrey Webb, who pleaded guilty last year to corruption charges in the U.S. related to the FIFA scandal, of participating in the scheme.
Cayman’s Caledonian Bank and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission agreed to a settlement barring the bank from trading in penny stocks and a US$25 million fine.
The SEC sued Caledonian, accusing the bank of participating in a pump-and-dump penny fraud scheme. The SEC originally sued Caledonian and froze much of the bank’s assets, causing a run on the bank that Caledonian could not recover from. The bank went into liquidation.
A judge in the U.S. called the SEC freeze order “a pre-emptive strike” and “incredible government overreach.”
Two robbers, casually dressed and making no attempt to hide their faces, held up Island Jewellers in Camana Bay. They ordered clerks to fill bags with diamonds before speeding off on a white dirt bike.
The pair had not been arrested by year’s end. The brazen heist was the first time a store in Camana Bay was the target of an armed robbery.
A judge ruled that the Cayman Islands Hospital cannot be sued for negligence if a patient is injured or dies, giving blanket immunity for medical malpractice to physicians and Health Services Authority employees.
The ruling came in a case brought by Norene Thompson, whose daughter suffered severe birth defects as a result, she argued, of negligence during labor and delivery.
Five boaters, including two children age 9 and 11, were reported missing and feared dead after they failed to return from a deep sea fishing trip.
Their capsized boat was discovered 20 miles off the coast of Grand Cayman the following day.
Relatives of the five, who were never found, raised concerns about the speed of the police response, sparking a controversy which ultimately led to the departure of police Commissioner David Baines.
The Dart group announced the purchase of the old Hyatt hotel, the Beach Suites resort and the Britannia golf course.
The developer closed both the Beach Suites and the golf course and has yet to announce plans for the properties.
Also in February, Dart revealed plans for a five-star hotel next to the Kimpton resort on Seven Mile Beach and submitted an application to remove beach rock from the coastline in that area.
British educator Jon Clark took the helm of John Gray High School, aiming to lift standards in the aftermath of a critical inspection report.
“My passion is for turning kids’ lives around,” he told the Cayman Compass in his first interview.
A mother who stabbed her 6-year-old daughter to death in a frenzied knife attack was convicted of murder after a jury rejected claims she had an “abnormality of mind” that would have warranted a lesser sentence of manslaughter.
A doctor said in court that Tamara Butler claimed to have heard voices and that God told her that her daughter was a demon and to kill her.
The shock announcement that police Commissioner David Baines would depart the Cayman Islands after seven years came amid vocal public criticism of the police, including the search and rescue efforts to find the missing boaters.
Citing the “recent barrage of unfair criticism and defamatory comments,” Governor Helen Kilpatrick said the commissioner’s authority had been undermined to the extent that his leadership was “no longer tenable.”
The leak of more than 11 million documents showing how a Panamanian law firm had helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade taxes, brought intense scrutiny on offshore centers.
Though the Cayman links were minor, the jurisdiction felt the impact. U.K. Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn even called for the U.K. to consider “direct rule” of its overseas territories amid a general backlash against offshore jurisdictions.
Cayman Airways announced plans to replace its fleet of aging jets with four new state-of-the art aircraft within four years.
Government approved a fleet modernization plan for the national airline to replace the four 737-300 jets, which are between 15 and 20 years old, with 737-8Max planes, straight off the Boeing production line.
Hours after taking part in a beach clean-up, teenager John Shaw collapsed on Seven Mile Beach, apparently suffering an asthma attack. He later died in hospital.
Family, teachers and class mates at John Gray High School mourned the popular 16-year-old cadet who was described as shy, funny and dependable, with a bright future.
Michelle Bouchard was jailed for 12 years for stealing more than $2 million from a retired Australian businessman with whom she had a close relationship.
Prosecutors alleged that Bouchard exploited octogenarian Bruch Handford, who wanted to pursue a relationship with her.
During the trial, it emerged that Bouchard had kept a “confessional” journal, in which she wrote of her hopes that he would provide her with financial security and her fears that she may have to pursue a physical relationship with him.
Her sentence was later reduced on appeal to 10 years.
More than 570 people signed an online petition calling for the Cayman Islands government to suspend plans to release millions of genetically modified mosquitoes in the district of West Bay.
The mosquito release was part of a planned multi-phase rollout of a control solution developed by U.K. biotech company Oxitec, which involves releasing “friendly” Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes to help fight the mosquito that transmits diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika.
The world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, touched down in the Cayman Islands in May for his first race of the season as he prepared for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Nearly 3,000 people turned out to see the world record holder perform. Bolt cruised to victory in the 100-meter final in 10.05 seconds to repeat his 2013 triumph at the Cayman Invitational.
The nine-time Olympic gold medalist also visited Cayman Brac, where he was greeted by crowds of cheering schoolchildren.
The participation of the Cayman Islands government in an International Anti-Corruption Summit in May in London was predicated on its joining an initiative of 40 countries. The project aims to develop a global standard for the automatic exchange of beneficial ownership data between law enforcement agencies and tax authorities of the partner countries.
Following the conference, Premier Alden McLaughlin said he fully supported access to beneficial ownership data by foreign law enforcement agencies to help detect and prosecute corruption, tax evasion and other serious crimes. But he called for a level playing field in terms of financial transparency and stated that Cayman would not adopt a mechanism that was not also implemented by the United States.
The former CEO of Pepsi, Roger Enrico, died after getting into difficulties snorkeling close to the Stingray City Sandbar in the North Sound.
Mr. Enrico, 71, was a regular visitor to the Cayman Islands and used to own a home at Cayman Kai.
He was famous for launching some of Pepsi’s iconic ad campaigns, which included an unprecedented sponsorship agreement with Michael Jackson. He also served as board chairman of movie studio DreamWorks.
Mr. Enrico was visiting the Cayman Islands with his son Aaron and a large group of other families.
Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach, from the Philippines, visited Cayman in June to host a Pinoy Pride Independence Month celebration marking Filipino Independence Day.
More than 1,500 people gathered at the Lions Community Centre to welcome Miss Universe to the islands.
Ms. Wurtzbach toured Grand Cayman.
Lawmakers approved the 2016-2017 Cayman Islands government budget, which covers 18 months, to realign the budget cycle from July through June to follow the calendar year.
In that year-and-a-half, central government plans to spend $862.4 million, which constitutes a 3.7 percent increase from 2015-16. Despite the spending increase, the Finance Ministry expects government will have a surplus of more than $45 million by the end of 2017.
The ministry projected core government revenue to be $908.5 million in that time. Adding in statutory authorities and government companies, the ministry estimated the entire public sector will bring in more than $1.2 billion in revenue.
In the aftermath of the U.K. referendum decision to leave the European Union, Cayman grappled with the consequences of Brexit locally.
Premier Alden McLaughlin said the Cayman Islands had benefited from Britain’s relationship with the EU, including though freedom of movement for Overseas Territories’ citizens. He predicted the prospect of new governments in the U.K. and the U.S. would mean a period of “great uncertainty” for world politics, including for Cayman.
But, he said, the island could prosper amid the turmoil. “In this sea of uncertainty, Cayman is an increasingly attractive place to live, work, invest and do business.”
Jude Scott, chief executive officer of Cayman Finance, said “short term we will see some volatility in the financial markets, however we will continue to monitor the political and economic situation and plan for the long term to ensure we are well prepared for any implications this decision has over the next few years.”
International speakers discussed social injustices faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people at the “Queering Paradigms” conference in June.
The conference, sponsored by Canterbury Christ Church University in the U.K., met opposition from politicians and ministers.
The Cayman Ministers Association said it was concerned that under the guise of challenging alleged “discrimination,” the event planned an ideological and moral attack against the mores, values and traditions of the Cayman Islands, which were shaped and guided by a Christian world view.
At the conference the Right Reverend Alan Wilson, bishop of Buckingham, said equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were a “religious imperative.”
“The fact is, there is almost nothing in the Bible about this,” he said. “There are five verses out of 32,000. You can pick out sound bites from the Bible to validate almost any point of view. We have to learn how to read the Bible more carefully.”
Cayman’s first local cases of the Zika virus were confirmed in a public announcement on July 5.
The mosquito-borne virus was contracted overseas by two female residents, Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez said.
The first patient had traveled June 15-22 to a country where there is an outbreak of Zika, Dr. Williams-Rodriguez said. The second patient was a student who had recently completed high school overseas.
Police investigated a traffic crash where a 1996 Toyota Supra smashed into a power pole and veered into oncoming traffic on Crewe Road on July 11.
The man driving the vehicle was a Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing inspector who had taken the high-performance sports car out for a test drive.
One witness, chief of government protocol Meloney Syms, told the Cayman Compass that the man driving the car was “speeding,” “zig-zagging” and “racing” through midday traffic in George Town.
No one was injured in the crash, other than the DVDL employee. The inspector was charged with “careless driving.”
The Toyota’s owner, Johnny Salas, said he had warned the inspector to be careful with the powerful sports car before taking it out. “It’s a nice car. Well, it was a nice car,” Mr. Salas said.
Two women who applied for permanent residence nearly a decade ago were granted that status in July in a case in which Cayman’s chief justice ruled a “miscarriage of justice” had occurred.
According to a letter received July 12 by attorneys at HSM Chambers, Michelle Hutchinson-Green and Alisha Racz were granted permanent residence, a legal status that allows a non-Caymanian to remain in the Cayman Islands for the rest of their life. Permanent residence is the first step toward obtaining British Overseas Territories citizenship and ultimately Caymanian status, the legal right to be a Caymanian.
The women had challenged earlier denials of their permanent residence applications, first to the Immigration Appeals Tribunal and ultimately to the courts, ending in the landmark August 2015 judgment by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie. That ruling concluded that appeals tribunal decisions regarding Ms. Hutchinson-Green, a Jamaican, and Ms. Racz, a Canadian, that denied their appeals for PR were “substantially wrong.”
Errington Albert Webster, 54, a former political candidate, was charged on July 20 with four counts of gross indecency with a minor. He appeared in Cayman Islands Summary Court to face the charges that day.
Webster, who was in police custody when he appeared at the courthouse, still stands accused of indecent acts with an underage girl. A video recording of the girl was distributed via social media and electronic messaging around Grand Cayman.
The charges relate to one victim who the court ordered not be identified.
Following the release of the video, which was apparently taken by the underage victim herself, Webster was assaulted and beaten outside his home in Belford Estates, Bodden Town. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service arrested a 32-year-old man in connection with that attack.
After months of legal wrangling, the first batch of genetically modified mosquitoes was released in West Bay district in late July.
The release came after a court challenge over the matter was rejected and numerous public meetings were held on the subject around the islands.
The idea behind the genetically modified mosquitoes is that the modified breeds, which are sterile, would “out-compete” other mosquitoes for mates, leading to a drop in reproduction. Premier Alden McLaughlin blamed opponents of the release for stalling needed efforts to reduce the Aedes aegypti mosquito population on Grand Cayman.
The Cayman Islands saw the start of the largest civil trial ever to be held here.
The case revolves around claims from Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi and Brothers that Maan Al Sanea, who married into the family and managed its financial services businesses, engaged in massive unauthorized borrowing, siphoning off proceeds to his own companies, many of them registered in the Cayman Islands. AHAB is seeking damages from Al Sanea and his companies, which it says were unjustly enriched as a result of his fraudulent schemes. The claims are contested by Al Sanea, as well as by the liquidators of the Cayman Islands-registered companies.
The case continued by year end.
Lawyer Simon Courtney was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment as a result of a hit-and-run crash that seriously injured two tourists along West Bay Road. The crash occurred in January 2015.
The judicial committee of the U.K. Privy Council overturned a decision of an eastern Caribbean court, ruling that a 19-month delay in registering an application for citizenship was too long and was “likely to be unlawful” when considering the applicant’s human rights, according to the judgment issued Aug. 2.
The case involves a Guyanese man who was seeking to become a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda by virtue of his marriage to a woman who had already obtained that status.
The central question in the court case, previously heard by the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (Antigua and Barbuda), was whether the 19 months between the man’s application for citizenship and his subsequent interview regarding that application fell within locally acceptable and legally permissible timelines.
The decision by the Privy Council could end up having a significant impact on Cayman’s own immigration application delays, officials said.
Former Deloitte accountant Robert Neil Aspinall was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison on Aug. 1 in connection with the theft of nearly US$500,000 from two investment funds he oversaw.
Aspinall pleaded guilty to six of 14 criminal charges. The other eight charges against him were “left on file” by the Crown. According to prosecutors, Aspinall would have gotten away with the theft if not for a ruling this year in the U.S. courts.
Cayman’s Olympic athletes, led by flag-bearer Ronald Forbes, joined thousands of athletes from around the world on Aug. 5 in the parade of nations at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games opening ceremony in the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Wearing custom-designed “turtle ranger” outfits, the five athletes – sprinter Kemar Hyman, hurdler Forbes, sailor Florence Allan and swimmers Geoff and Lara Butler – and six accompanying officials marched behind the Cayman flag. The opening ceremony was watched by an audience of more than 3 billion.
Derek Patrick Byrne, 57, a 36-year veteran of Ireland’s National Police Service, was announced on Aug. 19 as the new commissioner of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
Mr. Byrne came to Cayman after serving eight years as assistant commissioner of “the guards” – as Ireland’s national police service is sometimes called – where he supervised operations and strategic command for serious and organized crime incidents.
Cayman was stunned by the news in mid-August of the death of one horse, and injury to another at the George Town Equestrian Center.
Charm, a 25-year-old pony, had to be euthanized after being sexually assaulted, according to managers at the stables.
Another horse, called Jelly Bean, was assaulted the same night – Aug. 10 – but survived the attack.
No arrests in connection with the incidents were reported by year’s end.
Top officials including Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans, currently on paid suspension, were under scrutiny with allegations of crime, drunk driving, other traffic-related charges and accusations of administrative wrongdoing levied against them.
The Health Services Authority’s Chief Executive Officer Lizzette Yearwood told the Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee on Sept. 7 that the Cayman Islands public hospital system will begin suing patients or businesses that owe healthcare debts. In June the HSA reported that its provision for “doubtful debts” for health services – those over a year old – stood at $90 million.
The government’s future healthcare liability figure was calculated in mid-2014 without including more than 2,000 public sector workers, many of whom are expected to retire in Cayman.
Only current retirees on government pension plans, seamen and veterans, the approximately 3,570 active civil service employees, and the employees’ dependents were included.
A judge in a non-jury trial who found two men not guilty of indecently assaulting their young female relative called the police investigation into the incident “grossly incompetent.”
Despite an initial complaint to police in late 2012, the case did not come to court until the summer of 2016. Judge Timothy Owen said he found the men not guilty due to the inherent weakness in the prosecution’s case and did not find the girl, who was 11 at the time the incident was reported, was lying.
The following Monday, the Compass reported that Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick had lambasted the “failings” of the RCIPS that led to the acquittal of the two men.
Three officers from the Family Support Unit who were involved in the 2012 investigation, including two supervisors, were transferred from their roles and subjected to disciplinary reviews, but not suspended.
Statistics office figures revealed that Cayman’s overall unemployment rate of 3.9 percent in spring 2016 was the lowest since 2007, down from 5.6 percent in spring 2015. Some 1,111 Caymanians were unemployed in the spring, compared to 1,200 in the fall of 2015.
Broken playground equipment and debris at Sir John A. Cumber Primary School in West Bay was removed after parents raised concerns about their children’s safety. The images were posted on Facebook.
Parent and school PTA vice president Sarah Orrett also raised concerns that mold may be present in some classrooms, and a petition calling for adequate staffing, an environmentally safe and healthy learning environment was also launched.
The Department of Education stated that along with removing broken equipment and that two classrooms and their air conditioning systems had been deep cleaned and would undergo air quality tests.
The senior project manager for the government’s new national waste management plan, Jim Schubert, said that a waste-to-energy facility would be a key element of a plan that aimed to divert 95 percent of waste from the George Town Landfill. The only landfill included in the plan is a 4-acre pit on the current site.
Under the plan, the rest of the site would be capped, revegetated and potentially turned into a park, while other sites in George Town would be used for the rest of the plan’s infrastructure, including a recycling depot.
On Oct. 11 the Compass reported Cabinet had approved the new plan.
Researchers from the Cayman Islands Department of Environment who examined three unusual hatchling iguanas in Little Cayman found they displayed intermediate characteristics indicating that invasive green iguanas had successfully bred with the island’s indigenous rock iguanas.
The cross breeding was especially unusual since the two types of iguanas have a different genus, or biological classification, and was not seen as a positive development for indigenous iguana populations.
The first homicide of 2016 took place outside 7 Mile Shops on West Bay Road in the early hours of Oct. 1, when 24-year-old West Bayer Justin Manderson was shot and killed.
He was found lying on the pavement on West Bay Road close to Nectar nightclub, and police were investigating the possibility that the killing may have been a reprisal attack, as Mr. Manderson had been charged with the murder of Victor Oliver Yates in 2014, but the case was dropped ahead of a planned trial.
Three people were subsequently arrested in connection with the murder, but no one had been charged by year end.
A plan to build a 24-unit condo complex on privately owned oceanfront land next to Smith Cove led to widespread opposition amid fears that it would aversely impact popular beach.
Following a petition campaign spearheaded by the Save the Cover group, the Cayman Islands government agreed to buy the land from the owners for a sum of $5 million, taken from the Environmental Protection Fund.
Nine U.S. military helicopters, including Blackhawks, Apaches and CH-53E Super Stallions, and a team of 100 military personnel began landing at Owen Roberts International Airport on Oct. 4 as part of a regional disaster relief program in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which brought torrential rains and 145 mph winds to Haiti and southeast Cuba.
The team’s mission was to position itself in Haiti as soon as the U.S. government received a request for assistance.
A local relief effort headed by Matthew Leslie of the Cayman Islands Brewery to provide supplies to hurricane-stricken Haiti was swiftly collecting donations and coordinating with relief agencies and orphanages in Haiti.
A Cayman Airways jet flew 20,000 pounds of goods to Haiti, while another 40,000 pounds of items were sent by cargo ship.
Local contractor Mepco shut down its operations, leaving about 50 employees out of work. The company, with operations in Cayman, Turks and Caicos and Tortola had been working on the Kimpton Seafire hotel. The liquidator of the Cayman office was taken on by KRyS Global.
Cayman’s newest five-star hotel, the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, opened on Nov. 15.
Dart Development’s 266-room hotel was four years in the making, with more than 900 people working on the construction project.
Premier Alden McLaughlin said the $300 million resort will provide long-term employment for decades to come.
Kimpton CEO Mike Defrino described the resort as the first foray into the international market for the San Francisco-based hotel chain.
He also said it was Kimpton’s first venture in the luxury market and the first hotel of its kind in Cayman for many decades.
Cayman’s business and political leaders reacted with a mixture of hope and caution to the election of real estate mogul and one-time reality TV star Donald J. Trump as America’s 45th president-elect.
Premier Alden McLaughlin said Cayman will watch with interest as Mr. Trump organizes his Cabinet and sets his policies, as well as his agenda for the next four years. He said the Cayman Islands government looked forward to a positive working relationship with the new U.S. administration.
Cayman Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush said he saw “more positive than negative” in Mr. Trump’s election, given that, in Mr. Bush’s view, as a conservative businessman, Mr. Trump was less likely to give in to U.K. or European pressures for the U.S. to adopt a public beneficial ownership registry for companies and trust.
Cuba announced the death of former Cuban president Fidel Castro. He died on Nov. 25.
Reacting to the news of Castrol’s death, Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin described Cayman’s relationship with Cuba over the years as a complicated one. He pointed out that many Caymanian families can trace their origins at least partly back to Cuba and particularly to the Isle of Pines (now known as Isla de la Juventud) during the early half of the 20th century.
Damean Dwayne “Deebo” Seymour was gunned down near the intersection of Martin Drive and Tigris Street, just off Shedden Road, in what is known locally as the Scranton neighborhood.
It was the second homicide in the Cayman island for the year.
Mr. Seymour was a known figure in Cayman’s criminal circles for more than a decade. It was understood that he had moved away from the islands for several years and had returned within the past year or so.
Government is owed more than $4 million in unpaid permanent residency fees, some dating back seven years, according to data issued in response to a freedom of information request.
In the FOI response, the Department of Immigration indicated that it considers $2.7 million of that amount “uncollectible,” due to revocations or rescindments – though it did not explain why this would prevent the department from chasing the money.
The money owed related to 473 individuals with permanent residency fees in arrears for between one and seven years. Of those, 74 have had their permanent residency status revoked for continued non-payment.
Dozens of rides thundering down Cayman roads on motorcycles, dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles prompted public outcry to the police service.
On Nov. 28, drivers and passersby spotted the motorbikes, many “popping wheelies,” weaving into the opposite lane of traffic, running red lights and speeding.
The bikers were participating in an annual event known as the “Ride of the Century,” an international event that basically involves motorbike riders driving 100 miles.
Cayman’s new Police Commissioner Derek Byrne arrived on island on Nov. 3 to take up his post.
Mr. Byrne’s appointment to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service was announced in August after a recruitment process that short-listed three candidates for the position. Mr. Byrne served as assistant commissioner of An Garda Siochana, Ireland’s national police service.
Christine Rae Smith, the former personal assistant to two George Town MLAs, was found guilty of robbery and possession of an imitation firearm.
She was charged with three counts of robbery relating to an incident at Elegant Nails & More in George Town on the night of July 10, 2015.
Rae Smith was in the salon when two masked men dressed in black and carrying what appeared to be firearms entered and stole cellphones, jewelry and a total of $693 from the co-owner and two women who were in the salon at the time.
After being declared officially bankrupt, 80-year-old John Gordon Hewitt told a court he had been “thrown under the bus” by the United Democratic Party.
Mr. Hewitt, who brought a constitutional challenge to the 2013 election of Education Minister Tara Rivers, claimed the party had chosen him as a “token plaintiff” and promised to fund the action.
When the legal bills came in, however, he claimed the UDP and its financial backers went back on that promise and left him with the tab.
Celal Kildag, 58, was arrested in Grand Cayman after arriving by cruise ship on Dec. 8. He is facing extradition to Turkey in connection with the killing of two people and the burning of two primary schools in 1988.
Following a court hearing, he was remanded in custody over the Christmas period.