Immigration staff arrested in bribe case

Five people, including three Immigration Department employees, were arrested Thursday by the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Commission investigators in connection with a bribery investigation.

The individuals, who were not charged at the time of their arrest, are suspected of involvement in a scheme to bribe department employees in exchange for assistance with various immigration-related matters.

The five were arrested on suspicion of bribing public officials, fraud on the government and breach of trust, all offenses under the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Law.

The suspects were not identified because they were not charged. They include a 42-year-old Prospect man, two women, aged 33 and 37 from West Bay, a 56-year-old woman from George Town and a 43-year-old woman from Frank Sound.

A statement from the Anti-Corruption Commission on Thursday noted that all five people arrested were “detained for questioning” at the Fairbanks jail.

More arrests were expected in connection with the investigation, government officials said Thursday.

A statement released by the Ministry of Home Affairs Thursday afternoon noted: “After receiving reports of alleged misconduct by some staff, senior immigration officials enlisted the expertise of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. In turn, police officials referred the matter to the Anti-Corruption Commission for investigation.”

“The employees who are suspected of breaching the law will be placed on required leave in accordance with the Public Service Management Law,” Acting Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith said. Required leave status in the Cayman Islands government means suspension with pay.

The arrests were another major hit to the Immigration Department, which has seen a number of high-profile arrests in recent years, as well as other allegations of administrative misconduct.

The most recent incident involves charges filed against Assistant Chief Immigration Officer Jeannie Lewis in connection with assisting an illegal immigrant to remain in Cayman.

A charge of driving under the influence against Deputy Chief Immigration Office Garfield “Gary” Wong – who is in charge of the department’s enforcement section – was before the courts this month and is still being adjudicated.

Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans remains on required leave in connection with an administrative investigation that was made public in December 2014. Ms. Evans has not been charged with a crime, and the misconduct allegations against her have still not been resolved.

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