Rankin arrested re-permits

| 21/12/2012

(CNS): Local businessman and UDP stalwart Mario Rankin said he was arrested Thursday on suspicion of work permit violations, not only by immigration officers but two UK police officers, who appeared to be from the fraud squad. Speaking candidly about his arrest to CNS, Rankin denied any wrongdoing, stating that the immigration department had made the arrest based on allegations that he was employing a dump truck driver without a permit and issues relating to the transition of ownership of a group of local bars. Rankin said he was able to demonstrate the inaccuracy of all the allegations but remained suspicious that the immigration issues were not the real reason for his arrest.

Rankin said he had the necessary paperwork and documents and was able to show the immigration department that he had committed no offences. Explaining to CNS that during the complex transition of ownership of the Brick House, Oar House and Club House bars from former owner Harry Lalli, he had to pay staff who were owed money before the various licences were transferred. 

Rankin said that in order to secure jobs and the viability of the businesses, the bills had to paid from the proceeds of those businesses, which were still in the name of Lalli, but the proceeds had been transferred to his accounts and then out again to pay bills. He said there was precedent for this type of thing at other tourism related businesses, such as at the Marriott.

Having given the authorities the relevant documents, he said he was able to satisfy the questions of the immigration officers. Nevertheless, Rankin told CNS that the two UK police officers, who he said did not appear to be members of the RCIPS, still insisted on a search of his businesses and home. He said that, strangely, given the alleged basis for his arrest, the officers were not interested in the business computers at the Brick House and other bars but were more interested in searching his home and seizing his personal computer.

“I find it strange, having worked myself in enforcement, that immigration would require the assistance of British officers from a fraud squad to investigate alleged work permit violations,” said, Rankin who was previously employed by immigration. “Immigration arrests people every day over these types of allegations but never in the history of the Cayman Islands have they been accompanied by UK police for such an offence.”

Rankin said he was not able to comment on whether his arrest had anything to do with the arrest of McKeeva Bush earlier this month and stated that he had no business interests of any kind with the former premier.

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