Six public officers and six civilians appeared in Grand Court on Friday, facing charges that relate to an English-language proficiency requirement for foreign workers.
The allegations include receiving rewards for helping individuals pass the Immigration Department’s English language test or paying for assistance or arranging for assistance to be provided. The English test is administered to all non-Caymanian workers who hail from countries where English is not the primary language.
Some of the public officers are charged with failing to report their belief that another officer had solicited a reward for providing assistance.
The public officers, currently suspended from the Immigration Department, are Marcus Alexander, Carlos Robinson, Kathy-Ann Forbes, Diane Dey-Rankin, Pheadra McDonald and Sherry Lee McLaughlin.
The civilians, either from the Dominican Republic or Honduras, are Katerine Montero Paniagua, Carolin Nixon-Lopez, Marlenis Perez Mata, Angela Suyapa Rodriguez David, Mariel Maleno Suriel and Santo Castro Castillo.
The alleged offenses relate to dates or periods between April 19, 2015 and Jan. 11, 2017.
There were 32 counts on the indictment, all of them brought under the Anti-Corruption Law, 2014 revision. Twenty-three of the counts involve two or more defendants on charges of conspiracy to commit breach of trust or conspiracy to commit fraud on the government.
An example of the latter is count five: Katerine Montero Paniagua, Santo Castro Castillo, Carlos Robinson and Marcus Alexander, between Oct. 22, 2015 and Oct. 31, 2015, in the jurisdiction of the Cayman Islands, conspired to commit fraud on the government by arranging for the payment of a reward to Marcus Alexander, a public officer, as consideration for providing assistance to a named individual to pass the English Language Test.
Justice Michael Wood told the defendants and their attorneys that he was going to put off arraignment until Friday, May 11. Arraignment is the reading of a charge to a defendant and the defendant entering a plea of guilty or not guilty.
The judge said May 11 would be the only day for maximum credit to be received for any guilty plea and he wanted it on record that each defendant understood this. Some defendants had required the assistance of an interpreter of the Spanish language at the Summary Court hearing earlier this month.
The judge also raised the question of whether all defendants could be tried in one trial.
Crown counsel Greg Walcolm suggested postponing consideration of that issue until after the defendants’ next appearance.
Justice Wood agreed and continued everyone’s bail until then.