Employers claim diligence in recruitment of thief

| 10/09/2013

(CNS): A local law firm that became the victim of "sophisticated and calculating "white collar thief to the tune of US$846,000 said that they were diligent when they recruited Michael Levitt as chief financial officer as he had a clean police record and references from his employment history in Cayman including with a financial firm. Solomon Harris took on the fraudster in 2008 by which time he had been in the Cayman Islands for around four years having first arrived in 2004 in the wake of Hurricane Ivan on an emergency permit to work at the Westin Hotel. Having concealed his fraudulent past Levitt was able to take up various positions before securing the job with the law firm.

In the wake of Levitt’s sentencing hearing on Friday when he was sent down for seven and a half years the firm welcomed the result and defended its recruitment process in a statement released Monday.

“Solomon Harris carried out extensive due diligence on Mr Levitt before offering him employment, including taking up references locally and overseas, obtaining his practising certificates and ensuring he was in good standing professionally,” a spokesperson for the firm said.

“Regrettably, Mr Levitt was employed in Cayman for a number of years , including with a financial institution, before taking employment with the firm and was able to obtain a clean police record locally. Mr Levitt’s professional qualifications with two South African accountancy bodies were both current during the time that he was employed with us notwithstanding his conviction for fraud in South Africa,” the firm added.

The court heard Friday that Levitt was convicted in his native South Africa for fraud related offences and given a seven year sentence but during that time the crown said he was also wanted in Canada. Michael Snape prosecuting counsel told the court that he was tried there in his absence and sentenced to three years which the Canadian courts accepted could be served in South Africa concurrently with his sentence there. However, this was a claim disputed by Levitt’s attorney during the sentencing when he said he was fined.

Nevertheless, Levitt had two theft and fraud related convictions under his belt before arriving in the Cayman Islands but managed to conceal that from all of his employers until it was too later and he began stealing from Solomon Harris.

As victims of the theft the law firm said that justice was served and it had always taken the view that it was imperative to bring Levitt to justice and not to accept his offer to negotiate with Solomon Harris in return for not pressing charges.

“We applaud Mr Justice Swift’s carefully thought out and well-reasoned judgment. His Lordship’s decision sends out a very clear message to other would-be white collar criminals in these Islands. The firm continues to vigorously pursue full restitution from Mr Levitt's wrongdoings,” the lawyers stated as if offered its gratitude to the FCU and DPP for their work on the case.

So far only around $200,000 has been recovered from Levitt but the court will hold a hearing in December in order to assess whether Levitt has further assets that could be seized by the crown.

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  1. U can't be serious says:

    This typical in the Cayman Islands, if you are from anywhere else but here you are given an opportunity to gain employment even with known serious convictions as in this case.

    I am one of those Caymanians without any "tinted past" that simply got caught out in the financial melt down. Consequently, I have been without employment for fours years now, limping along on my wife's one salary, notwithstanding sending out over sixty CVs and sitting through 39 interviews! The responses range from either your educational background does not match what we think we need, to you are over qualified. Frustratingly, the majority providing no response whatsoever!

    I am 40 with over 18 years experience in excutive positions, married for 17 years with two children, a home loan and various bills and no flipping job or opportunity! Yet, persons like this subject moves from job to job with little or no hassel! And I can't even be afforded an opportunity for the minimum probation period set forth in the Law to prove my value. Vexing to say the least.

    Now this government wants to compound this serious problem of unemployment and lack of opportunity for Caymanians by creating a 10 year work permit! The frustration level has reach a crescendo with me and many others resulting thoughts and actions never taken before! 

  2. Anonymous says:

    Half the ex pats that come to Cayman have something to flee from.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Another example of not enough careful vetting, regardless of the protestations to the contrary.  this vetting obviously was not good enough.

      There is no point, for the most part, in contacting the people listed as references. The telephone numbers might not even be for the company the references purport to represent.

      We need to suspect every resume and get the name of the company and make our own contacts with the company.  The company itself needs to be checked as to whether it is a bonefide company.

      We get taken by these folks  in jacket and ties, especially if they are white. Let's be honest.  They can manipulate us with their smooth presentations so easily.

      we have to learn from this and stop this rubbish.



  3. Anonymous says:

    People seem to get away with it here. There is an air conditioning repairman with a police record in Cayman, Bermuda and the UK but he just keeps getting hired. I don't understand it. It's such a small place you would think it would be easier to find out about people. 



    • Anonymous says:

      I know who this is!!! I can't believe this man is still here.  He's the worst sort, I knew him in Bermuda, decidely he will not be reurning to that island!!!   Get it together Cayman!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Sure, Caymanians never steal from their employers. They never write bad checks either. 

    • Anon says:

      You're right! We have our own, so no need to import them. Human beings will always disappoint, no matter the nationality. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I don't think that is in dispute. However, what we have here is a different scale and altogether and committed by an expat who was obviously being upheld as an outstanding member of the community and no doubt was preferred to be hired over a Caymanian.

  5. Anonymous says:

    As much as this is worrying I would like to be reassured how much checking is done on school teachers and their suitability. Are sufficient checks done to see if they have any convictions or if they have been struck off teaching registers in their home jurisdiction?

    • Anonymous says:

      Now after serving considerable time in jail in South Africa….do we really think Northward prison will scare him? He will be living just as large as he did on the outside.

  6. William Wallace says:

    How did Syed the ucci thief got through? Wasn't he cherry picked by our government? There are so many fraudsters on island that even the employers are aware of bogus qualifications just to ensure their friends obtain the job over a caymanian. I have even over heard my colleagues making jokes of our immigration, police, recruitment process and caymanians on a whole, yet they come here by thousands to reap the money and tax free benefits.


    • Anonymous says:

      Very good point!  it is interesting, in light of the firm confirming they provided the courts with proof that Levitt had current practising certificates from a jurisdiction that convicted him from fraud, this should be a major concern for the Government.  Its hard to say in all honesty that the firm didnt do its due diligence. 

      • Anonymous says:

        No it's not. If you don't actually verify and call the references and the prior employers directly, you're not really trying. For a job like this, you go all the way back to school to verify.

      • Cayman C says:

        2 words – World Check

        Most firms use it…many other options available too.


        Done…. wasn't THAT easy?


      • Anonymous says:

        Aaah the joke…If you're white it's alright, if you're brown hang around…..you know the rest…

        Our colonial mentality….(sigh)


    • Porky Pig says:

      Don't forget, Syed was Alden's buddy and STAR pupil.  Every time you'd turn a newspaper page you'd see them sid by side trying to outgrin each other – one using the other…  And when their little friendship could not withstand some charges of theft, Alden stuck his thumb in his mouth and cried foul.

      • Anonymous says:

        Syed was hired at UCCI under Mac and Roy Bodden's time after the coup. He was at UCCI for several years before the ucci board promoted him. 

        • Anonymous says:

          Tek Dat!!


          Looks like Porky Pig got his bacon fried!!

        • Anonymous says:

          Roy does not allow his employees to even say Syed in his presence so he can twist the perception of new employees that he had nothing to do with Syed. Everyone is waiting and hoping that he leaves so UCCI can start to move forward.

        • Anonymous says:

          Exactly correct. Of course the UDP imbecile you are responding is not interested in the truth.

    • Anonymous says:

      Give it a break, the police department themselves have hired people with criminal records from other countries…..explain how that happened?????  They have access to all sorts of checks, but didn't pick it up so lets stop laying blame

      • Anonymous says:

        That's right if there is any hint of blame being attributable to an expat all of a sudden it is off limits. smh.  

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you. Levitt was also registered with CIMA let's not forget. They Also did checks. Dont delude yourselves people. The age on the Interpol story of Levitt doesn't match regardless of it being him. It is also a myth that a simple google check 4 years ago brings up Levitt. In fact it still has mostly rotary stories and pictures. Reality is he's scum and probably always will be. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    There maybe alot of them not screened properly and coming to our shores with fake degrees and police reecords and just hired and pushing Caymanians out of the way.


    • Anonymous says:

      More likely one or two, don't you think? Besides, from what I can gather he was quite good at his job, just had the one big problem with honesty!

    • Castor says:

      Paranoid? Maybe just feeling unsecure?

  8. Lulu says:

    LOL @ the headline!

    We were quite diligent in recruiting our thief….

  9. The lone haranguer says:

    Smoke and mirrors baby!

  10. Anonymous says:

    This should be a lesson to all employers that good references really don't mean much. Potential employees should have to submit police records dating back to the age of 18 from all places the potential employees have ever lived. Considering today's technology, the authenticity of these records can easily be verified. 

  11. Anonymous says:

    There are others like him here running from something. Over the years that I have been here I have know many. There are lots of reasons, not all illegal, but most are running from prosecution of some kind. And I've always felt that this was an island of misfits that couldn't make it anywhere else. I've even heard of a doctor that cannot practise in his own country.

    Talk about due diligence… None of that going on up in here

    PS. Solomon Harris didn't check very far. That's ridiculous and unacceptableSomebody's head should roll.

    • Anonymous says:

      The person's head that should roll should be at immigration, as it is their job to scrutinise all work permit applications. Solomon Harris are victims of a fraud.

      That being said, as is too often the case in Cayman, just getting the references is not enough. Did anyone at Solomon Harris read them? Did they consider them? Did they critically analyse them? Did they take action based on the information they receeived, or did they just stick the whole thing in a drawer, not worry about and take the easiest course of action, to employ the fraudster?

      There is an epidemic of shallow thinking and dirth of responsibility-taking in Cayman.

      • Anny omis says:

        I disagree. The burden is on the employer. If this person was a Caymanian or status holder, Immigration would not have had any involvement in the process at all. Shouldn’t the employer thoroughly investigate someone in such a position of trust?

        Many people from abroad are now ‘Caymanians’, do they just get a pass on the reference checking just because an Immigration permit grant is not required? Ditto for borns – many have studied, lived, etc., outside of our islands, and the reach of our police reports, and immigration dept.

        Put the blame where it is deserved. Don’t get me wrong, I am no fan of our immigration department, arcane laws, nor its oft surly staff. But this one ain’t their bad.

      • Anonymous says:

        The Immigration Dept. is not a vetting service for employers, that more the RCIPS' role.


        What do you think is going to happen if the employer supplies glowing references and qualifications with a permit application, as opposed to a permit appl where there is negative things about the person in the references and a past criminal history attached?


        The fault is all SH's in this matter, and to try and lay some blame elsewhere (other than on Levitt) is laughable!

        • Anonymous says:

          You're an idiot. He had other employees other than SH. No doubt he did the same where he could. Think about it. SH are to blame for the theft! What sort of comment is that ? Sounds like you have a personal gripe!

    • Anonymous says:

      How far should they check back to?  If he was employed in Cayman for a number of years and they got due references locally and overseas and he had current practicing certificates from 2 associations, and a clean police clearance as the article says, i am not sure what you are getting at?  Sometimes these things happen. Plus he duped the Canadian Government.  Hello!

      • Anonymous says:

        The article implies that he only submitted police clearance from here. It seems safe to assume that his employer did not ask for police clearance from the other countries in which he had lived.

      • Anonymous says:

        Did you Google him?? Merely put his name in and either country and see what pops up.

        It is not that hard to research people. And everyone should know that you didn't need much at all to get an 'emergency' permit. And voile! You're in and starting a clean record. Kind of like doing laundry.

        Get it?

        • Anonymous says:

          I just googled him and the only convictions that come up are the current ones in Cayman.  There is an article about interpol etc and the age doesnt match Levitts age at the time.  the pages after that are all about Rotary.  so really not sure youre any more honest than Levitt! Lol!

    • Anonymous says:

      Not so sure about this one, by all accounts he was very good at deceiving people, he got into Canada and managed some sort of deception after doing the same in South Africa, then managed to get round at least three employers on island and kept up the deception for nearly 10 years (of being legitimate).

      Probably better to have good internal controls as there is no saying when, or if, someone will try and steal, everyone has a clean record until the first time they commit a crime!

      • Anonymous says:

        I can bet you that if he was a black man he wouldn't have gotten this far in the job market.

    • Anonymous says:

      I know a guy that was a waiter for several years here and fabricated a stellar CV. Now works at one of the major law firms. I know this for a fact.  He got in by one of his pals that was already in and got him the foot in the door.


  12. Anonymous says:

    Can we now please term this "Employment Laundering" and prohibit it under the Immigration Law whilst we are doing the current amendments?  The Law used to prohibit "job hopping" except in exceptional circumstances however, in the usual fashion, was watered down to benefit non-nationals such as Mr. Levitt and to the disadvantage of Caymanians.  It seems given his time on Island and the fact he used his ill-gotten gains to purchase a house here, he would have qualified to apply for PR.  Did he? What if he had not been caught?  How many other fraudsters and undesirables have manipulated our system, especially the ridiculously easy provisions of the Immigration Law, to stay here and "live the Cayman dream", a dream that many Caymanians themselves cannot afford? This case highlights the need to strengthen the Immigration Law, in terms of job-hopping and term limits, not continue the dangerous trend of relaxing the rules.  Unless of course undesirables such as Levitt are the types of people we aim to attract and keep here.    


  13. Anonymous says:

    Plainly, if the South African Authorities are willing to provide clean confirmations in relation to scum of this nature, no certificates or other confirmations from South Africa should be accepted in Cayman. They seem to have the reliability of a clear HIV screening from Honduras. 

    • Anonymous says:

      The article doesn't say that the South African authorities were ever asked. It only says that his professional certifications were all current. Don't blame the authorities if no one ever bothers to ask them.

      • Anonymous says:

        "obtaining his practising Certificates and ensuring he was in good standing professionally."

        My guess is you find that absolutely acceptable. I think it means that the professional association governing accountants in South Africa have no standards or are incompetent. In either event, we should probably not pay them any heed in future (at least  until they apologise and promise it cannot and will not happen again) .


        • Anonymous says:

          All of you are talking about these so-called certificates which are current, etc and saying that the South African government or accountancy structures cannot be trusted, but, none of you are considering the fact that these certificcates may be fake! I mean, prisoners get quite an education in South African prisons (I guess, all prisons) so I assume that these are NOT current  certificates but ones that he or one of his cronies made for him. And since he was able tofake his death in South Africa for life insurance, why not have a coule more certificates made.

          So, Solomon Harris or the previous employer should have verified the certificates! Guess many have learned several lessons here.





      • Anonymous says:

        But really, at the end of the day, if you are convicted of a felony or of fraud, your certificates should become invalid. Period.

  14. Anonymous says:

    This is just sad, I don’t know but maybe a simple tool (Google) could have avoided this…

    • Anonymous says:

      Give it a go and tell us what you find,

      • Anny omis says:

        I did google him. and it brought up both the Canadian and South African crime information.

        So I am not sure what point you are trying to make.

        If you are suggesting the information on his bad deeds was too well hidden, that seems disproved.

        If you are suggesting it was easy to find, and not actively sought out, you are right.

        • Anonymous says:

          Your starting point was that you knew the answer to the question you were asking, it's not so easy to find random relevant information, even if his name pulled up a hit how many Michael Levitt's did it also pull up that weren't relevant.  Can you identify the Michael Levitt we have here from those hits you did find? 

          • Anonymous says:

            And so your answer was to assume that none of the criminals were him? lol.  

          • Anny omis says:

            I just googled “Michael Levitt”. Nothing else. Try it and see what you find. I do the same for all my new job applicants, takes only a few minutes, and can be very informative.