The Crown’s case against five immigration officers and two civilians was opened on Monday, when prosecutor Patrick Moran detailed allegations that individuals who needed work permits were receiving improper assistance with an English language test in exchange for money.
The seven defendants are charged under the Anti-Corruption Law of 2014. They are accused of conspiring with each other and/or others to commit fraud on the government, by arranging for the payment of rewards to public officers as consideration for providing assistance to candidates to pass the test.
All seven have pleaded not guilty.
The alleged offenses were said to have occurred between August 2015 and June 2016.
Mr. Moran explained that people who need permits to live and work in the Cayman Islands are required to pass an English language test if they are not from a country where English is the primary language. The test provides a means of checking that the prospective worker has the ability to speak, read and write English. In the matters for trial, the individuals were from Cuba, Dominican Republic and Honduras.
There were four different test papers in use, with different questions and a slightly different format, Mr. Moran said. One part of the test consisted of questions read aloud by the officer; the candidate was required to answer in English and the officer had to write down whatever the candidate said in response. No video or audio recordings were made, so the only people who could say what went on at the tests were the people being tested and the officers present.
There should be no fee payable to any officer, Mr. Moran emphasized.
He supplied jurors with a bundle of documents he said would be evidence in the case. The documents included text messages from defendants’ phones. The messages referred to individuals coming to Cayman expecting to have to take the English language test.
Specific sums of money were sometimes mentioned, sometimes $600.
A number of the work permits being applied for were for employment in liquor-license establishments.
Mr. Moran was scheduled to continue his opening on Monday afternoon.
The immigration officers have been further charged with failing to report the solicitation of an advantage or reward.