Businessman Mario Rankin has been cleared of multiple immigration offenses, more than two years after being arrested following a raid on his Grand Harbour restaurant complex.
Mr. Rankin was found not guilty of operating without a Trade and Business License and multiple charges of employing people contrary to the conditions of their work permits. His company, Navitas Ltd., was also cleared on charges of employing people without work permits.
Mr. Rankin’s case had been set for trial on Tuesday, but he was cleared after the Department of Public Prosecutions dropped the charges, based on new information from the Immigration Department that the relevant paperwork and fees had been completed and paid in December 2012.
The businessman said Wednesday that the allegations had caused him two years of stress and financial hardship.
He said he had been forced to give up the lease on the restaurants and bars, including the now defunct Dog House and Brick House, following the raid.
Mr. Rankin said he was the victim of a political witch-hunt because of his support for former premier McKeeva Bush, who at the time of the immigration raid was under investigation by anti-corruption police.
“After two years of much stress and significant personal and financial costs to myself, my kids and my professional reputation as an local entrepreneur, I am relieved and thankful that I have been fully exonerated and found not guilty by the judicial system of the Cayman Islands on all charges,” said Mr. Rankin.
“The past two-and-a-half years have been a living hell for me and my kids. I knew and have maintained from day one my position of being innocent against all charges that I faced in this political witch-hunt.”
Immigration officers raided the Sail Inn, formerly known as the Brick House, in Grand Harbour in February 2013, bringing business to a halt and ejecting patrons.
Mr. Rankin was subsequently charged with employing people in contravention of the terms of their work permits in November and December 2012, at the Brick House, Dog House, Brew House and Oar House.
Mr. Rankin, who at the time of the raid had just taken over the lease on the restaurants, said the charges had cost him the business.