Woman takes stand in corruption trial

On day three of an ongoing corruption trial, the prosecution’s key witness took to the stand.

Wiping tears from her eyes, Elsy Liseth Diaz, 49, recalled the events leading up to and after her arrival in Cayman in April 2016.

The courts heard that Diaz and three other women conspired to commit fraud on the Cayman Islands government. A court order prevents Cayman Compass from naming the other women, who are a 59-year-old Caymanian and two Hondurans, aged 36 and 40.

The women are all alleged to have played varying roles in providing people with assistance to pass an English-language test in exchange for money. The test was administered by the then-Immigration Department, now Customs and Border Control.

Speaking through an interpreter, Diaz said she was introduced first to the 40-year-old Honduran woman, who had agreed to take out a work permit for her. When that initial permit was declined, she said she was then introduced to the 36-year-old Honduran woman.

“When [the 40 year-old woman] told me the permit was declined, she told me about another person who could take out another permit for me,” said Diaz. “I was told that I could come to Cayman and work as a janitor or as a bartender.”

WhatsApp Messages originally written in Spanish were translated in court. The jury of five women and two men heard that Diaz was to travel with money to pay for her work permit, as well as money to pay for the English-language test.

“[The 40-year-old woman] told me to tell the immigration people I wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t do the English test the same day.” said Diaz, “She said I should go do the test the following day, so that’s what I did.”

Diaz recounted that when she arrived to do the test on 12 April 2016, the immigration officer took her to a small room where the test was administered.

During her testimony, prosecutor Gregg Walcolm explained to the jury that the test comprised of three parts. However, Diaz said she only filled out one section, and was not made to compete the other two.

The 59-year-old Caymanian woman held a senior role in the Immigration Department. She is said to have used her position to falsify Diaz’s results, in exchange for money.

Diaz said she eventually received a passing grade, although she incorrectly guessed the answers on the test.

A few weeks after she arrived in Cayman, she encountered financial difficulties and was not able to make the monthly payments. A voicemail, received from the 36-year-old Honduran woman, told the Diaz that if she did not pay the money, her work permit would be cancelled.

“When I heard it, I went to the immigration department and cancelled the work permit,” said Diaz. “I told the immigration officers what had happened and gave them a statement.”

Diaz was not formally charged for her role in the alleged corruption.

The trial continues.

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