More arrested in immigration bribery probe

Two more people were arrested last week in connection with an ongoing bribery scandal at the Cayman Islands Immigration Department.

The suspects, who are not public officers in the Cayman Islands government, represent the sixth and seventh arrests in the investigation since mid-January.

The two people arrested Tuesday and Friday of last week were taken into custody on suspicion of bribery, fraud on the government and breach of trust. All three allegations are offenses under the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Law.

No charges were filed against the suspects, a 32-year-old George Town woman and a 44-year-old man from the Spotts area of George Town, as of Friday.

The arrests follow an operation on Jan. 19 by investigators from the Anti-Corruption Commission in which five people, including three Immigration Department employees, were detained and questioned.

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

The first five suspects were also arrested on suspicion of bribing public officials, fraud on the government and breach of trust.

The suspects were not identified because they were not charged. They included 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.

The Immigration Department leadership said the three arrests demonstrate a “zero tolerance” policy the department has regarding employee misconduct and unlawful behavior.

“These arrests came about as a direct result of the Immigration Department following the correct procedures and bringing suspected wrongdoers to the attention of the authorities for proper investigation,” Acting Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith said in a prepared statement released on Jan. 22.

The three employees arrested in the Anti-Corruption Commission probe on Jan. 19 are among eight immigration staffers now on required leave – suspended with pay – for “various reasons,” according to Mr. Smith.

Others include Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans, who has faced potential disciplinary action following her suspension in December 2014. Ms. Evans, who faces no criminal allegations, has to date not had the administrative accusations against her resolved.

Also suspended is Assistant Chief Immigration Officer Jeannie Lewis, who faces allegations of assisting an illegal migrant to remain in the Cayman Islands.

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