Defending Paradise: $64 million and Immediate Action Committed to Protect the Environment and Accelerate Renewable Energy
May 23, 2013
NECKER ISLAND, British Virgin Islands, May 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In a joint effort to safeguard and bolster the Caribbean region’s tourism-dependent economy, fifteen Caribbean governments and seventeen corporations met on Necker Island, home of Sir Richard Branson, in the British Virgin Islands this weekend and committed approximately $64 million USD to preserve and protect the region’s marine and coastal environment, and accelerate efforts to transition to renewable energy.
“Protecting and harnessing the natural world is the greatest opportunity of our lifetimes,” said Sir Richard Branson, Founder and Chairman of the Virgin Group. “We can’t have much economic growth without a healthy Caribbean environment, and we can’t have a healthy Caribbean environment without healthy economic development. Solving the energy challenge and marine conservation challenge in the Caribbean go hand-in-hand.”
The event, launching the second phase of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI), was co-hosted by the Prime Minister of Grenada, Premier of the British Virgin Islands, and Sir Richard Branson. The event’s sponsoring partner was Tiffany & Co. Foundation, and the event was organized by The Nature Conservancy, with support from Virgin Unite, the non-profit entrepreneurial foundation of the Virgin Group, and the Carbon War Room.
“We are honored to be part of such a historic event, and we applaud our fellow Caribbean nations participating in this Summit,” said Prime Minister Dr. the Right Honourable Keith C. Mitchell of Grenada. “We are charting a path for future generations, stressing the importance of conservation throughout the region.”
“Governments and their people, companies and their consumers, and local communities all must work together to protect this beautiful region,” said Glenn Prickett, Chief External Affairs Officer for The Nature Conservancy. “This event has demonstrated that no longer is protecting nature viewed as a luxury, it is critical to the success of the region’s economy.”
Commitments announced at the Summit by individual governments to support these efforts included the establishment of a national trust fund to protect biodiversity in The Bahamas; adoption of a Protected Areas System Plan to protect 33 percent of marine and coastal environments in the British Virgin Islands; the establishment of 14 fish sanctuaries in Jamaica; a commitment to double the number of protected areas in Puerto Rico; Grenada’s reaffirmation to protect 25 percent of its marine and coastal environment; and Belize’s commitment to protect 30 percent of its marine and coastal environments with over 10 designated as no-take fishing zones.
In addition to these commitments, Defend Paradise, a campaign designed to generate funding for marine conservation in the Caribbean and raise consumer awareness of the marine environment was launched.
May 15, 2013
NEW YORK, NY, U.S.A. and WILLEMSTAD, Curaçao, Weds. May 16, 2013: In its third consecutive year, the Invest Caribbean Now (ICN) event has become the primary Caribbean investment forum.
The Annual Invest Caribbean Now is presented annually by The Caribbean Tourism Organization, (CTO), and Hard Beat Communications, Inc., during CTO’s Caribbean Week In New York and Caribbean American Heritage Month in the United States.
The definitive Caribbean Investment Forum will feature a United Nations-type “general assembly” of ministers from about a dozen nations from the Caribbean and international business leaders, and is set for June 5th, an ideal strategic match-making event.
Caribseek News is proud to announce that it is the Worldwide Caribbean media sponsor for this event.
“The partnership with Caribseek News is important for Invest Caribbean Now as it complements our objective of bringing together the Worldwide Caribbean in one Caribbean investment forum. The reach of Caribseek News as a true Worldwide Caribbean news portal is a great way to get our message out,” according to Guyanese entrepreneur Felicia Persaud, CEO of Hard Beat Communications and the architect of the Invest Caribbean Now investment forum.
“The main objective of Caribseek News is to become the platform for Worldwide Caribbean news bringing together the Caribbean, its Diaspora and international business relationships,” stated Mr. Willem Da Costa Gomez, CEO of Caribseek International.
Only a few tickets at $185 each are still available for the June 5th forum at events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=7phqhyn6&oeidk=a07e6oz57kp0f880fbe
The Hard Beat Communications/Caribbean Tourism Organization annual Invest Caribbean Now Power Forum is a strategic match-making event for international business leaders that connects investors and those seeking to do business in the Caribbean with over a dozen governments from this region in one room! www.investcaribbeannow.com
About Caribseek News
Caribseek News is the premier Worldwide Caribbean news integrator covering the Caribbean, its Diaspora and Worldwide Caribbean-related news. Caribseek News feature full multi-media news and news is published in all languages spoken in the Caribbean. facebook.com/caribseeknews”>www.news.caribseek.com — facebook.com/caribseeknews
May 15, 2013
UK Prime Minister David Cameron, is greeted by thge UN Secretary General ban Ki-moon, as he visits the United Nations, in New York City, Wednesday May 15, 2013. Photo: Hayden Roger Celestin
News Americas, UNITED NATIONS, NY, Weds. May 15, 2013: U.K. Prime Minister, David Cameron, today, May 15th, co-chaired a session of the U.N. High-Level Panel on aid in New York.
Cameron launched an 11th-hour bid to save a major U.N. report on the future of international development amid fears among aid groups that it … [may] lose sight of its original goals. The High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, at United Nations headquarters, May 15, 2013 in New York City, was to address worldwide concerns of poverty and development.
May 15, 2013
UN Goodwill Ambassador Against-Human Trafficking, Mira Sorvino, speaking at the 67th Session of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Monday May 13, 2013, at UN Headquarters, New York City. Photo: Hayden Roger Celestin
News Americas, UNITED NATIONS, NY, Tues. May 14, 2013: Top United Nations officials on Monday, May 13th urged the UN General Assembly to fully implement key anti-human trafficking treaties and to cooperate more closely to counter the multi-billion dollar industry which has trapped some 21 million men, women and children in forced labour.
“No effort must be spared to bring to an end the servitude of millions, while helping the survivors rebuild their lives,” General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic told the opening of the two-day high-level meetings on improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons.
He said that human trafficking is now a global criminal enterprise that ensnares millions of people into forced labor and domestic servitude, sexual work and child soldiering. According to 2005 estimates released by the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO), profits generated in the sex industry alone are as high as $32 billion a year.
During the high-level meeting, countries will examine progress made on the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. Adopted in 2010, the Plan calls for integrating the fight against human trafficking into the United Nations’ broader programmes to boost development and strengthen security around the world.
The discussions focused on its four pillars – preventing trafficking, prosecuting offenders, protecting victims and forming partnerships to fight trafficking.
The Plan also set up the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
In his remarks, Jeremic urged Member States, philanthropic organizations and the private sector to increase its support for the trust fund, created by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, noting that it “provides indispensable humanitarian, legal and financial aid for those most directly affected.”
Nearly one-third of all victims of human trafficking officially detected around the world between 2007 and 2010 were children, according to a report released in December 2012 by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) citing data from 132 countries.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon, speaking at the 67th Session of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Monday May 13, 2013, at UN Headquarters, New York City. Photo: Hayden Roger Celestin
Also addressing the Assembly, the Secretary-General reiterated calls for support to the Fund, urging Member States and partners to give “generously.”
He also noted the importance of universal ratification of key international treaties, including the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. More than 154 countries have now ratified the Protocol which has been in force since 2003 and is overseen by UNODC. As well as the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime to which 175 countries are parties.
“Human trafficking is a vicious chain that binds victims to criminals. We must break this chain with the force of human solidarity,” Mr. Ban urged meeting participants.
May 14, 2013
NEW ORLEANS, May 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Pan-American Life Insurance Group (PALIG), a leading provider of insurance and financial services throughout the Americas, today announced financial results for the full year ending December 31, 2012.
Revenues grew 19 percent to $560 million, while pre-tax operating earnings were down 27 percent to close the year at $25.6 million as a result of one-time acquisition-related charges of $19 million. Excluding these charges pre-tax operating income increased by 13 percent. Revenue gains were primarily attributable to growth in the Latin American markets where PALIG operates and the acquisition of MetLife Algico/Alico assets in the Caribbean, Panama and Costa Rica. Net income for the year was $46 million compared to $32 million in 2011, reflecting strong operating results in all segments and one-time adjustments such as increased acquisition expenses, investment gains and the impact of M&A activity during the year.
“This was a milestone year for Pan-American Life and we’re beginning 2013 in an excellent financial position,” said Jose S. Suquet, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Pan-American Life Insurance Group. “This year we’ve been successful in continuing to execute our core strategy by expanding our operations in growth markets, while maintaining conservative financial management and a prudent risk profile. Our improved revenue and operating earnings reflect our continued focus on execution exemplified by the acquisition of certain MetLife operations in Latin America and the Caribbean, the initial realization of value in markets such as Costa Rica and our continued investment in promising opportunities, such as Mexico and the Private Client Major Medical business.”
In addition to the MetLife acquisition and the opening of Pan-American Life’s Mexico office, the company also launched several new products in 2012, including LifeAccess, a competitive universal life product in Latin America and PanaBridge Advantage in the United States to capitalize on the supplementary health insurance market.
During the last six months of 2012, PALIG closed its acquisition on select businesses and assets from MetLife’s Alico/Algico units in the Caribbean, Panama and Costa Rica, providing the company with additional scale in its life and health segments and expansion into 13 new markets. Operating results of MetLife businesses acquired by PALIG are included in the company’s 2012 consolidated financial statements. 2013 financial statements will reflect full year impact of these operations.
“The MetLife acquisition advances Pan-American Life Insurance Group’s strategy to become one of the leading life and health insurance providers in the Americas,” added Mr. Suquet. “This purchase enhances PALIG’s financial strength and expands our size and geographic footprint, and makes our high quality services available to customers in the Caribbean.”
“The acquisition adds 36 percent to our asset base, which now stands at more than $3 billion, increases our statutory gross earned premium by 42 percent to more than $685 million, more than doubles the number of countries in which we offer products to 22, and increase the number of insured lives by 54 percent to more than 1 million,” said Mr. Suquet. “The added scale, financial strength, depth of product offerings and added expertise offers PALIG the opportunity to continue to meet our growth objectives and become the preferred provider in all the markets in which we compete.”
PALIG’s financial strength and stability continue to be recognized within the industry. Earlier in 2012, Fitch Ratings and A.M Best reaffirmed Pan-American Life’s ratings with ‘A’ Insurer Financial Strength (IFS) rating and Stable Outlook.
2012 financial and sales highlights follow:
2012 Financial Highlights
• Total Assets: $3.0 billion
• Total Equity: $600 million
• Net Income: $46 million
• Total Revenues: $560 million
2012 Sales Highlights
• Overall sales in 2012 increased 15 percent
• Global Life showed a 9 percent increase
• International Group increased 28 percent
• Domestic Markets showed a 7 percent increase
About Pan-American Life
The Pan-American Life Insurance Group is a leading provider of insurance and financial services throughout the Americas. New Orleans-based Pan-American Life Insurance Company, the Group’s flagship member, has been delivering trusted financial services since 1911, employing more than 1,300 worldwide, providing top-rated life and health insurance, employee benefits and financial services in 47 states, the District of Columbia (DC), Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Group’s member companies offer individual and/or group life and health insurance throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The Group has branches and affiliates in Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, and 15 Caribbean markets, including Barbados, Cayman Islands, Curacao and Trinidad and Tobago. For more information, visit the Pan-American Life Web site at palig.com.
May 13, 2013
CaribPR Wire, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. May 13, 2013: The Obama administration is sending a representative to Invest Caribbean Now this June, as the Caribbean Diaspora in the U.S. gears up for Caribbean American Heritage Month and Caribbean Week in New York.
Anthony Eterno, of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Caribbean Affairs, Western Hemisphere division, will attend the June 5th forum in New York City and speak on the US’ views on trade and investment in the Caribbean.
Eterno is a 15-year veteran diplomat with the Department who has worked in the Caribbean for close to two years and whose expertise includes economic affairs.
Invest Caribbean Now is organized annually by The Caribbean Tourism Organization and digital media solutions company, Hard Beat Communications, during Caribbean Week in New York. This year it is being presented by marquee sponsor, Avalon Partners in conjunction with The Turks & Caicos Islands investment agency and One Caribbean Television.
This year the event is set for the Radisson Martinique hotel in New York City from 7:30- to 11:30 a.m. and will be preceded by an invitation only reception at The Yale Club on June 4th.
Other speakers will include Alan Lowenstein of Wedgewood Investment Group; Premier of the Turks & Caicos Islands, Dr. Rufus Ewing; Finance Minister of the Turks & Caicos Islands, Washington Misick and panelists on Development Tourism as well as on China and the Caribbean.
Government attendees will include Governor of the US Virgin Islands, John Percy de Jongh, Jr; Chief Minister of Anguilla, Hubert Hughes; Chairman of the CTO and Commissioner of Tourism For the USVI, Beverly Nicholson Doty; Minister of Tourism & International Transport, International Trade, Industry, Commerce & Consumer Affairs St. Kitts, Ricky Skerritt; Lorne Theophilus, Minister for Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries, St. Lucia; Stephen Cadiz, Minister of Tourism, Trinidad & Tobago; Orville London, Sec. of the House of Assembly, Tobago; Assemblyman Tracy Davidson-Celestine, Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary, Division of Tourism and Transportation – Tobago and Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, Hugh Riley.
Private sector reps will come from JP Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Nomura, CIBC World Capital, Ibis Investments, Aegis Capital, Portfolio Credit Management Limited, DHL, Marriott International, Spackman Capital, the Lugano Group, Damoola, One Caribbean Television, Avalon Partners, Digicel, TCI and Scotiabank TCI.
Only a few tickets at $185 each are still available for the June 5th forum at events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=7phqhyn6&oeidk=a07e6oz57kp0f880fbe
May 9, 2013
It all began with the take down of this man – Edul Ahmad – in 2011. He’s awaiting sentencing but remains free on bail.
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. May 10, 2013: The icing on the cake of dismay for many Guyanese and Caribbean nationals in New York City, the U.S. and even Guyana this week was the slapping of embezzlement and obstruction of justice charges on New York lawmaker, Guyanese American State Senator, John Sampson. It marked number five in a list of notable Guyanese who have recently been arrested and charged with fraud.
Sampson, 47, who was a former head of the New York State Senate’s ethnic committee and represents the 19th Senate District in southeastern Brooklyn, which comprises Crown Heights, East Flatbush, as well as portions of Brownsville, Canarsie and Spring Creek Towers, areas that are largely home to many Caribbean immigrants, was charged in federal court in Brooklyn on May 5th with embezzlement and obstruction of justice charges.
Interestingly enough, his charges are apparently linked to another Guyanese, former realtor and Richmond Hill mogul, Edul Ahmad, who is set to be jailed on a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud and seemingly squealed on Sampson after copping to a plea deal.
Ahmad, 44, pleaded guilty last year to mortgage fraud scheme in which he and others fraudulently obtained more than $50 million in loans. In so doing, he avoided a trial and a sentencing date has not been set.
In the Sampson indictment, Ahmad is referred to only as “The Associate.” But sources say it is Ahmad, the once flamboyant businessman, who flashed around in a yellow Lamborghini and handed off wads of cash to the campaigns of many local politicians and some in Guyana as well.
The U.S. federal indictment against the NY State Senator alleges that he asked “the associate” for $188,500. The money, at Sampson’s direction, allegedly was paid in the form of three bank checks payable to third parties.
Sampson characterized the “Associate Transaction to the Associate” as a loan that he would repay but took this “loan” without written documentation or any rate of interest, the indictment further claims. He also never repaid “The Associate.” Further, Sampson concealed the “Associate Transaction” by lying on his Senate financial disclosure forms, falsely claiming that he had incurred no liabilities in excess of $5,000 or gifts or income in excess of $1,000, the indictment said.
Sampson is further accused of using a portion of the Associate Transaction funds to pay back some of the money he embezzled from two of the escrow accounts. However, Sampson never repaid any of the approximately $160,000 he stole from the two other escrow accounts that are the subject of the embezzlement charges in the indictment.
Then in the summer of 2011, after the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York filed bank and wire fraud charges against the Associate in relation to a mortgage fraud scheme and he was arrested, Sampson is alleged to have engaged in a multifaceted scheme to obstruct justice and to prevent the Associate from cooperating with law enforcement authorities or disclosing Sampson’s criminal conduct. Evidence of Sampson’s obstructive conduct includes intercepted phone calls from Sampson’s cellular telephone, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said.
Sampson also allegedly tried to obtain confidential, non-public information regarding the Mortgage Fraud Case. Soon after the Associate’s arrest, Sampson informed the Associate that he knew an individual who, at that time, was an administrative employee in the USAO, the indictment said. Sampson told the Associate that he could persuade the Employee to give inside information that would assist the Associate’s defense in the Mortgage Fraud Case, according to the indictment.
As alleged in the indictment, Sampson then asked the Employee to determine whether the USAO was conducting a criminal investigation of Sampson and whether certain mortgage fraud defendants were cooperating with the government’s investigation. Sampson told the Associate that he was attempting to determine the identities of cooperating witnesses in the Mortgage Fraud Case, and that if they were able to identify those witnesses, Sampson could arrange to “take them out,” it is alleged.
According to the indictment, when the Associate asked Sampson about his efforts to use the Employee to obtain information about the Mortgage Fraud Case, Sampson was reluctant to discuss those illegal efforts over the telephone. For example, while meeting with the Associate in November 2011, Sampson stated, “I can’t talk on the phone . . . . From now on, our conversation is, ‘I don’t have no contacts, you don’t know nothing.’ When we talk, that’s how we talk,” the indictment states.
But the Guyanese alleged fraud trend does not stop there.
Late last year, the Guyana-born owner of the now defunct airline, EZJet, Sonny Ramdeo, was arrested and charged. He is now in jail, in Florida, awaiting an October trial for embezzling $20 million from his former employer in a payroll tax fraud scheme from as early as 2005 from Promise Healthcare Inc. and Success Healthcare Group, where he worked as the payroll supervisor.
Also last year, Queens district leader and two-time candidate for the City Council, Guyana-born attorney, Albert Baldeo, was arrested. He is now facing charges for campaign-finance improprieties.
And last month, another well known Guyana-born attorney, Michael Gangadeen, was charged by the Queens DA’s office. He is now facing charges of conspiring to commit mortgage fraud and larceny from Wells Fargo Bank by fraudulently obtaining mortgage funds in excess of $3.3 million
All in all an embarrassing trend that has many Guyanese New Yorkers shaking their heads but declining comment for fear of ruining associations and friendships or reprisals. Still others quoted the old all are “innocent until proven guilty” line to stay above the fray and not appear to take sides.
But for Guenet Gittens, a small business owner, there was ho holding back.
“As a Guyanese, and especially one in business, I’m disappointed,” Gittens told News Americas. “However, I remember being in real estate and realizing that some of our own people were the worst predators on our own – simply because we trusted in them. I now realize that instead of just not doing business with them I should have reported them.
“We should feel no loyalty to these people. They are dragging us down as a community. After a while with all of the drugs coming out of Guyana and all of the fraud happening… we’ll all be tarred by the same brush and we can’t afford that as we have too many hardworking, upstanding people contributing to this economy.”
May 8, 2013
TAMPA, Fla., May 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — The following statement is being issued by the United States Department of Justice: Persons who lost money from investments in companies operated by David A. Smith, doing business as Overseas Locket International Corporation (“OLINT”), and related companies may be eligible to receive compensation from the United States Government.
Smith claimed that the companies were private investment clubs that purportedly traded in foreign currency on investors’ behalf. Smith made false and fraudulent statements indicating that members could expect high returns on their investment with low risk to principal. Rather than investing the funds as promised, Smith used them for personal gain and paid returns using new investors’ money, in a classic Ponzi scheme.
Smith was convicted in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in September 2011 on multiple counts of wire fraud and money laundering, in the case of United States v. David A. Smith, No. 6:10-cr-232-35DAB (M.D. Fla.). As part of his criminal sentence, Smith was ordered to forfeit assets seized by federal authorities.
The forfeited funds will be returned to victims of the scheme through a process called Remission. To be considered for Remission, a Petition for Remission Form must be submitted to the Remission Administrator. A copy of the Petition Form can be obtained from the Remission Administrator’s website: www.gilardi.com/DSmithRemissionFund. The Petition Form must include evidence of relevant investments and returns, including copies of all required supporting documentation.
Persons needing assistance in completing the Petition Form or with questions about the Remission Fund may call 1-877-281-4446; or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit the Remission website at www.gilardi.com/DSmithRemissionFund.