(CMR) The island's largest corruption trial concluded this week with the conviction of three additional persons in the immigration language scandal that rocked the department and took 10 months and three trials to prosecute. This brings the total to 9 convicted persons out of the 12 that were tried.
Yesterday, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) issued a statement that this concludes the matter and that no further statement would be made. The conspiracy is alleged to have taken place between August 2015 and June 2016. The allegations were first made in June 2016 when senior immigration officers became suspicious of how the tests were being administered. After an investigation, the matter was referred to the ACC for prosecution. In the end, a total of six immigration officers were charged with taking bribes of $600 per test to allow persons to successfully pass the immigration mandated English language test in order to obtain work permits on the island. Six civilians were also accused of being involved at varying levels.
There were initially some 32 charges that were later consolidated. Given the number of persons involved the case was broken into three separate jury trials which began in January 2019. Prosecutor Greg Walcolm handled all three cases. All parties plead not guilty with the exception of Dominican Maleno Suriel who pleaded guilty to fraud conspiracy.
Marcus Alexander, a senior immigration official, was alleged to have been the ring-leader who oversaw the immigration officers involved and also worked with several other defendants. A court-imposed gag order preventing persons involved from being named has now been lifted:
All guilty parties are on bail as they await their fate at a sentencing hearing to be announced.