Trial begins for man accused of immigration scam

Defendant invokes names of Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, former Premier McKeeva Bush

Trial began Wednesday for Paul Anthony Hume Ebanks, charged with 27 counts of obtaining property by deception. The property was a total of $164,700. The deception was that sums of cash were required as payment for a legitimate grant of Caymanian status or permanent residency.

Crown counsel Toyin Salako opened the case to the jury of five women and two men. She said it was the prosecution’s case that Ebanks had represented that he was working on behalf of various government officials to recruit persons to whom status or residency would be awarded in exchange for cash payments of $2,000. The period of alleged offending was between July 2012 and December 2014.

Ms. Salako emphasized that there was no such scheme and Ebanks was not employed by government to recruit members of the public for grants of residency or status.

She said jurors would hear from various witnesses that Ebanks had told them that (former West Bay MLA) Cline Glidden was godfather to his son or that Deputy Governor Franz Manderson was godfather to his son. No such relationship existed, but the claim helped convince people that he was in a position to facilitate the grants.

First witness

The first witness, Siri Russell, told the court that she knew Ebanks from school. She ran into him in 2012 and they exchanged phone numbers. He came to see her and told her he was working with Mr. Glidden and McKeeva Bush and they were looking for people to get status in order to vote in the upcoming elections.

She understood that Mr. Bush and Mr. Glidden were politicians, but she did not know them personally. Asked later if Mr. Bush was premier at the time, she said she did not know.

She said she believed Ebanks because he would get phone calls and then tell her he had been speaking to Mr. Glidden. When she had questions about the scheme, Ebanks would phone and get answers.

Ms. Russell said Ebanks told her that people did not get receipts for their cash because it was not going into the government itself, it was going to Mr. Bush.

She said she asked how people could get status just by giving their name and details. He told her that Mr. Bush had granted some statuses some years before and it was basically the same process.

Jury questionnaire

Before jurors were chosen this week, they were given copies of a questionnaire to fill out. Two of the questions were: Were you or any close relative granted Caymanian Residency under the 2003 Government scheme? Do you know of anyone who paid cash for Caymanian Residency?

The questionnaire also asked if the potential juror or close family member had a personal friendship or close association with Franz Manderson, Cline Glidden Jr., Charles Glidden or William McKeeva Bush or their immediate families.

Another question was whether the potential juror was a member of the United Democratic Party or the People’s Progressive Movement or any other political party.