Ringleaders jailed in immigration bribery

| 30/07/2020 | 62 Comments
Immigration Building, Eastern Ave

(CNS): Marcus Alexander, a former senior immigration officer, was given a four-year prison term on Thursday, following his conviction in a bribery scheme relating to the immigration English language test. Alexander, who continues to deny the accusations, was one of nine people who were found guilty and one of three men jailed for substantial periods as the main protagonists in Cayman’s biggest corruption case so far.

Alexander, who was said to have conducted the bulk of the corrupt tests, will be joined in jail by Carlos Robinson, who was a less senior immigration officer and the main broker in the corrupt agreement, and Santo Castro Castillo, the facilitator, who were both given three-year sentences. The judge also recommended that Castillo be deported after serving his sentence.

The case revolved around an organised bribery scheme in which a number of Spanish women seeking work permits in the Cayman Islands who could not speak English well enough to pass the requisite language test, which were conducted by immigration officers, were asked for $600 to bribe officers to give them a false pass mark.

The crown’s case was that Castillo recruited the women who were not able to pass, then he liaised with Robinson at immigration, who then organised for Alexander, the more senior officer, to administer the tests, with each of them taking a cut along the way.

As he delivered his sentencing ruling on Thursday, some three years after those involved were first arrested, Justice Roger Chapple, who presided over one of two jury trials, said that prison sentences were inevitable.

“Corruption is the same dark force wherever it occurs in the world and it needs to be dealt with,” the judge said. “There is a clear need to send a deterrent message,” he stated via a Zoom link in Grand Court, adding that the public had a right to expect high standards from their immigration officers.

He said the five immigration officers in this case were doing exactly the opposite of what they were employed to do and were swept along in a “corrosive culture of corruption” in the workplace.

Several women who were involved in the fraud were also given jail terms but due to a combination of mitigating factors, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on inmates, their sentences were all suspended.

Kathy Forbes, another senior officer, was jailed for two years but the judge suspended her sentence for two years due to a number of mitigating factors. She was said to have conducted just one test, but based on telephone evidence was involved in the arrangements of others.

The judge said Forbes’ involvement was the most difficult to understand because she did not appear to be motivated by financial gain but “just got caught up in the situation”, which the judge said illustrated how corruption “infects a workplace”.

Dianne Dey-Rankin, who was also convicted of fraud on government after she was asked to become involved in the scheme in the case of just one woman, had “let herself down badly” and was given a 12-month sentence that was suspended for two years.

Two civilian women considered to have been facilitators, who were charged with recruiting the woman who gave evidence in the case, were also given suspended sentences. Carolin Nixon-Lopez was given a 12-month sentence and Angela Suyapa Rodriguez David a 6-month sentence, and in both cases the sentences were suspended for two years.

But Dey-Rankin and Nixon-Lopez were also ordered to pay compensation of $1,000 to the woman they recruited, having essentially fleeced her for money in what she thought was their assistance in securing a work permit. When all of it fell through, she was left without a job, no money and no right to be in Cayman.

Pheadra McDonald, another immigration officer indirectly involved in the scheme, was found guilty of failing to report it because she did not tell officials when she became aware that her partner, Castillio, was involved in bribery. Given the circumstances of her case and mitigation issues, she was given a conditional discharge, which will last for two years.

Mariel Maleno Suriel, the only person in the case to plead guilty, admitted that she had introduced her family members from the Dominican Republic, who wanted to come to Cayman to work, to Castillo to help them pass the test.

She made no financial gain from the scheme but she introduced five women and was well aware that what she was doing was part of a corrupt deal.

However, Suriel’s guilty pleas, the help she gave to the crown as a witness, the long delay from her admissions to finally hearing her fate, her remorse and regret meant that she had “done all she could to make amends”, the judge said, which warranted a substantial discount on the sentence. Therefore, Suriel was also conditionally discharged for two years

In the wake of the ruling the Anti-Corruption Commission chairman, Richard Coles, issued a statement recapping the judge’s sentencing ruling.

“These sentences send a clear message that corruption at all levels will be investigated and persons prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he said. “The Commission would like to thank Investigator Anthony Daniels as well as other members of the Commission staff, along with the RCIPS and Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for their work in this matter.”

See the ACC sentencing outline in the CNS Library

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Category: Crime, Immigration

Comments (62)

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  1. Not A EZ Road says:

    I have a question did all the person they tested over the last 5 years from the day they busted them get re tested? I know a few place I go that person dont even know how to say “how can I help” or even say the amount in English. What’s point you don’t go back and re check what they have done. If even for 2 years test based on the person still on island with active permits.

  2. Rick says:

    Tough talk but in the end, a slap on the wrist for what has been going on here for decades. These people prey on the weak, who are themselves corrupt to take part in the schemes but are the ones who should be exempted from prison to put a stop to the really corrupt who prey on them. At least, justice was partially done.

  3. Anonymous says:

    another glorious day for our ‘world class’ civil service!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of corruption: how many gas-station-conflicted Ministers of Transport does it take, to stencil bike lanes and sharrows around the islands? Why can’t we execute the budgeted and paid NRA plan from 2015? How is that not theft?

  5. Cayman Real Truth Dynamic says:

    Dearest truth that will never ever happen here for the simple reason it conflicts with British policy of divide and rule thus bringing and employing foreign” mercenaries” to do what they accuse Caymanians of doing nepotism and favoritism and corruption yet those chosen token Caymanians in their good graces who promoted their agenda who have some serious past indiscretions like assaulting women and drug dealing and other ghastly deeds are promote up the ranks and congratulate for their achievements and it helps to have the blessings of their local lodge affiliates to make it good and righteous! This our story, corruption has never been compulsory unless you live in Cayman! These immigration officials simply didn’t have those type of protections in place or a CBE or MBE behind their names A virtual get of jail free card and immunity from investigation and prosecution issued no less by the Crown! Boy it looks like Jon Jon little Bligh for the First Lady has come to haunt them didn’t vote for the UK DP ting aaah sometimes you can’t deal with these natives they are so ignorant eh?

    • The watcher says:

      They corrupt bro. They from here. They got caught. No amount of whining is going to change it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Are you truly that ignorant 401am ?the post is not about whining, the poster is merely pointing out the disparity in how and whom fairness and justice is dispensed on this island. Who is more corrupt ?those that are caught and punish or those who enable others to commit offenses with impunity which corrupts the whole system enabling the certain or chosen few to go unpunished and benefit from it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations to the police and prosecutors, to the judge not so much. The sentences are laughably light. When will the judges get serious about crime and corruption. We need crime fighters not crime managers.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. They will be back to it before you can blink.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why was the men sent to prison and the women got suspended sentences?

      • Anonymous says:

        Per the judge, there is COVID at Fairbanks but none at Northward. IMO if he was fair and intended to be, they should’ve all gotten a suspended sentence or all should have to serve time. I’m uneasy with the fact he sent only the men to prison. They all did the same crime. Even the ones who paid the supposed bribes got a slap on the wrist. I do not agree with his ruling at all.

  7. Anonymous says:

    There is nothing strange about any of the corruption going on in this island!!! It has been happening forever and there will never be an end to it. Greed is the root of it all.

  8. Big Bout yah! says:

    Ringleaders hahahaha sounds nice but don”t make me laugh the usual suspects and peons gone down for the count.Low level figures always follow in the foots steps on their mentors but they go to jail whilst big fellas get promoted to head honchos. Saddens me to see such young Caymanians get mired down into this type of corruption over this Aye pappie!s#@!Yet we have big shots landing on planes smuggling money and precious metals walk free! Not a word from the Justice system about and appeal????

  9. Truth says:

    Well, wonder when they gonna get to the RCIPS and the Jamaicans/Barbadians.
    There is one hell of a racket going on there. They purposefully target Caymanians, and unless its a major incident that is widely publicised, nothing is done to the expats. I have seen first hand drug cases get tossed as no further action. I have seen domestics quelled. I have seen bribes given.
    There are Senior Officers involved who protect them.

    When will it happen. Information has gone in, pictures sent. Nothing……

    The regular culture thing is in place…..

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe you should report all that you have seen. My understanding is that lots of cases fail as people will not give evidence. At least call CrimeStoppers as that is anonymous and answered off island. Maybe it won’t help if what you say is true but it can’t hurt.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The results of the case are alarming. Sentence all the men to prison while the women get suspended sentences?! What happened to equality here?! Weren’t they all culpable? I’m sure not a single gun was held to anybody’s head. The justice system in this country is a damn joke.

    • Anonymous says:

      Stamp it out and stop giving them lighter sentenses and not stamping it in their pssports and they can keep travelling. But young Caymanians for the slightest offenses are not allowed the same breaks.Shame on the Justice system here.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Don’r blame the “latina girls”! Blame this corruption on the greedy and unethical officers. Jail is right! Cayman has fallen to sheer greed and at least this sends a message. Corruption like this and in other forms exists in all Public sector agencies including many SAGCs!! Stamp it out!

  12. Anonymous says:

    This all sounds fair, well done, ACC.

  13. Cayruption is normal says:

    While ever there’s a market for cheap foreign labor, especially latina bar girls, this kind of corruption will continue. Ask our MLA’s to take a vote on wether they condone this type of corruption and you’ll hear the same silence as was heard after our Speaker committed assault.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Accountability is alive and well in our civil service. The zero tolerance for corruption is working well.

    Lets these prison sentences be a real deterrent to all.

    • Neverwannabeacivilservant says:

      4.14pm You are suffering from delusions of grandeur, only a civil servant would utter this nonsense. What we have here is a drop in the ocean of corruption, and in any event accountability also applies to incompetence which is never punished as it has become the norm.

      • Proudcivilservant says:

        4:14 Really?? Drop in the bucket you say. But I can guarantee that you have never reported anything to the ACC. You probably don’t know what the ACC is.

        Complaining rather than offering up facts or solution well…makes you sound stupid.

        Thank you CIG Having been a civil servant for over 10 years I can say without reservation that accountability is at its highest level.

        Now if we could stop the private sector from calling with stupid questions we could get some work done.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Big shot Marcus Alexander in jail. So funny.

    • Anonymous says:

      He probably thought he was a player big time…and now he’s doing time.

      • Whatever says:

        God is in control of this situation you better be careful rejoicing before your DIRT is revealed.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes lets all rejoyce. A crook has been given jail time. He was not innocent. Bout god in control. He sure is cause he caught up with Marcus dirt.

        • Anonymous says:

          So, I guess according to your religious resoning God spoke to him and make him commit the crime then? Please get your head out of your behind.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Whereas the Elections office can requisition $1.32mln for a $200k current liability (still suspect), and everyone yawns, and turns the page without noticing or questioning the extra $1.1mln.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand why there was only one deportation order. Almost all convicted could be deported as a result.

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanians or married too…

      • Anonymous says:

        Irrelevant. Any foreign national engaging in corruption should immediately have any right to reside revoked and be deported. It is an outrage that our law enforcers do not even adhere to this basic standard. They are making our island more and more like their own failed states.

        • Anonymous says:

          There is a thing about human rights with children involved in case you’ve never heard. So go fix your caymanian women who keep having children with these men who have other baby mommas.

          • Anonymous says:

            You do not understand human rights. Nor do the law enforcement and immigration authorities.

    • Anonymous says:

      Where would you deport them to? Cayman Brac? Little Cayman? They are Caymanians.

  18. Anonymous says:

    No investigation into what the women were doing here and where they were working?

    • Anonymous says:

      No surprises there? A few well-connected premises were almost certainly involved.

    • Anonymous says:

      Investigation? They don’t want you to know about all of this!

    • Anonymous says:

      Heres a hint,’barmaid’is the new name for the oldest profession in the world and their patrons are well known and connected. Hence why no investigation.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Wondering where these officers were from? If they are not Caymanian should they be sent packing?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes they should be sent packing, and those who brought them in should go with them.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ah, customs and immigration have always said the are proudly 100%, or very close to that, Caymanian. Look no further than your extended family to find the corrupt individuals. And they have been sent packing…to Northward!

    • Anonymous says:

      @3:52 – Nice try but no cigar, the Immigration officers are all Caymanian.

  20. Corrosively Corrupt Cayman says:

    The judge noted a “corrosive culture of corruption”. So is the owner of the Compass due an apology? The government assured us there was no corruption and to say otherwise was treason! What a laugh!
    Even without this case we can all agree there is a lot of corruption in Cayman. It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know!

  21. Anonymous says:

    And are the foreign nationals complicit in the corruption being allowed to stay in Cayman?

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