BELMOPAN, Wed. July 19, 2017–Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie, former CEO in the Ministry of National Security before he became Commissioner in 2013, was in the witness chair for the afternoon session of the inquiry by the Senate Select Committee into the Auditor General’s Special Report on the Immigration Department between 2011 and 2013.
Whylie was the subject of a Supreme Court application for a writ of mandamus that was successfully filed by the then Leader of the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP), Hon. Francis Fonseca, and Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin had instructed the Commissioner of Police to investigate the Won Hong Kim passport scandal (involving the issuance of a Belizean passport to a South Korean criminal in a Taiwanese prison) which had blown up under disgraced former UDP Minister of Immigration, Elvin Penner.
Whylie told the Senate that he had investigated the Penner matter. Since the Senate Select Committee began its investigation, however, the former Ambassador to Taiwan, Cherie Nisbet, told the Committee that the Won Hong Kim passport was returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs several months after the scandal broke, but there has been no indication that the passport ever landed in the police’s hands.
In the early part of this afternoon’s session, Commissioner Whylie was questioned at length about whether or not he had instructed Superintendent Julio Valdez to stop investigating discrepancies he discovered in immigration nationality application files that were removed from the Immigration Department and had fallen into the hands of the attorney Arthur Saldivar.
Business Senator Mark Lizarraga questioned Whylie about the Valdez investigation.
Whylie told the Senator that “He [Valdez] came in and provided me with a verbal briefing in terms of the investigation. The impression I got was that he was perhaps running into some roadblocks at the Immigration Department and I reminded him that as police, we do have a responsibility to investigate and that he needed to get into the Immigration Department and see all those files and that if I needed to sign a search warrant for him to do that, I was prepared to do so.”
Senator Lizarraga asked Whylie if he had gotten a final report from Valdez.
“No, I received no final report from him. As far as I’m concerned, he hadn’t finished, I don’t know,” Whylie said.
“You never saw it fit to ask, to find out?” Senator Lizarraga asked Whylie.
Whylie replied that he had not, “because the fact that [is] there was an issue in the media that someone had told him, or stopped him from investigating—and I wanted to know who had, because I knew I hadn’t.”
Senator Lizarraga explained that in his testimony, Valdez said that “they did stop him; they told him to continue along this line, looking more into the missing files.”
In response to that, Whylie said, “I don’t think so. Perhaps it’s misinterpretation on his part because I’m saying that it was out there in the media that he had been stopped and I knew that in the one meeting I had with him, I hadn’t stopped him. I had encouraged him to investigate, but I gathered from our meeting that he felt that he shouldn’t pursue that line of questioning and I told him no, no, no, you need to clarify this issue because if you don’t clarify this issue, I will take action. I did not personally get involved in neither that investigation nor the Wong Hong Kim because I already saw that the spin was that Commissioner Whylie said not to investigate, and in my view, it was the converse of that. I wanted an investigation. I had nothing to do in terms of any wrongdoing at Immigration [Department].”
“The matter remains unsolved because nobody knows what has happened to the missing files,” Senator Lizarraga told Whylie.
In response to that, Whylie said: “Well, you can say that. You can say that because, as I said, I thought that Mr. Valdez had completed his investigation and he had submitted the file to the DPP.”
Before beginning his line of questioning, Senator Courtenay summed up what Commissioner Whylie had told the committee to that point: “You are telling the committee that you made it clear to him [Valdez] that he should proceed with investigating how the files got into the custody of Mr. Saldivar, and, also, the irregularities that he had identified with respect to the nationality matters. Both things.
“And he left from there with the impression that you told him don’t investigate the irregularities with the nationality, concentrate on how the files got in the custody of Mr. Saldivar.”
“I am presuming that’s what happened,” Commissioner Whylie agreed.
“Right,” Courtenay said. “And you’re saying to us that it was subsequently clarified that in truth and in fact, you were telling him to proceed along both lanes, both things?”
“Yes,” Whylie said, “but what I’m saying is that I cannot, up to today’s date, understand how he could believe that it was otherwise, because, as I said, the conversation was done in the presence of another senior officer.”
“I understand,” Courtenay said. “We weren’t there, so we are just trying to find out and we’re listening to stories. Mr. Valdez sat right there earlier today and made it very clear to this committee that there is a person who gave him certain instructions and he refused to reveal the name of the person. Two names came up: Blackett, and you. He specifically said it wasn’t Blackett.
“Given the impression, as you had said just now, the impression, nothing more than that, if da no he, call a name and I will whistle. So, Commissioner, you are now saying that it wasn’t you? So we know it’s not you; it’s not Blackett. So, [is] Mr. Valdez crazy?”
“Well, maybe you should ask Mr. Valdez that question,” Whylie said.
Senator Courtenay asked Whylie what had happened in the investigation into the irregularities with respect to the process of the issuance of nationality that Mr. Valdez had identified. Whylie replied that, as he had said, he thought that Valdez had concluded the investigation and sent the file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
“He [Mr. Valdez] told us there is a chain of command,” Courtenay said. “He would report to Mr. Blackett, Mr. Blackett would report to you. You didn’t ask Mr. Blackett? Remember that thing Mr. Valdez had talked about? Where it is? And Mr. Blackett didn’t brief you, and say, nothing has happened?”
Commissioner Whylie repeated that he thought Mr. Valdez had concluded the investigation and sent the files to the DPP.
Senator Ashley Rocke, the Senator representing the Churches, said that it was important “to understand the weight of the comments that the gentleman [Mr. Valdez] made to us this morning, to the extent that he was able and willing to tell us this morning that he will not give us the name because of a fear of criminal or legal implications.”
Commissioner Whylie was apparently far more interested in his “good name” than in discussing the name of the person who had caused Valdez to fear to continue his investigation, and he made that known to all interested parties that “he would spend every copper to clear his good name.”
“Well, Sir,” Whylie said, “the media asked me a couple months ago, that allegedly, Mr. Valdez had said certain things, and I told the media, I said if Mr. Valdez says certain things and I hear him say it and I know it is not true, I will spend every copper I own to clear my name. That’s the way I am. Mr. Valdez knows if he comes here and say certain things that he knows is untrue, or says it in the media or the public, I will take him to court and I’ll spend every last copper if I have to because I did no such thing, I gave him no such instructions. I’m not a stupid fella. I’m not a crazy man. I have 30 years’ service with distinctions in the Belize Police Department and in the public service and I will not throw it away for anybody. Nobody has asked me to do anything wrongdoing and nobody will, because anybody you talk to on both side of the aisles will tell you Allen Whylie is a man of his word and if he said it’s so, it’s so. I don’t tell lies on people, I have no reason to, nothing to gain, and I’m comfortable in my very own skin, very comfortable in my own skin.”
The Senate Select Committee’s probe of Commissioner Whylie turned to whether or not he has launched any investigation since the Auditor General’s report was made public.
Senator Courtenay asked him if he had “assigned responsibility to anybody in the Police Department” to go through the matter in detail, to see if they could “identify possible persons who should be investigated for criminal wrongdoing.”
Commissioner Whylie’s reply to that was, “No, Sir, I have not…since I’ve received these reports the past 2 weeks I’m going through them. I have not, but I have said publicly, recently when I was asked, that I look forward to the outcome of this committee report and whatever recommendations or wrongdoings or directives come. Whether or not that report comes to me, it goes to the DPP, wherever, we will comply with whatever is the recommendations and so on. I think that from my browsing of these reports, it is obvious, as you said, that the system broke down, and individuals allowed the system to break down, because those individuals are the persons who did things against policy.”
“Mr. Commissioner, why is it that nothing is being done on the criminal side from these documents right here?” Senator Courtenay asked.
Whylie replied, “Again, these reports, as I said, I would have expected the Auditor General would have sent a copy to us, because that is the norm of the Auditor General’s investigation.”
“So, no pro-action on your side?” Senator Courtenay asked.
“No, Sir, I haven’t done anything. As I said, I just got my hands on these reports and I am going through them and I am waiting on the outcome of this committee,” the Commissioner said.
“Out of all of this immigration things that have been happening, none of your officers has come to you and recommended any investigation into any irregularities identified by the Auditor General?” Senator Courtenay asked.
“No, Sir,” Whylie said.
“Are you aware of any active investigation by the police into the irregularities identified by the Auditor General?” Senator Courtenay asked.
“No, Sir,” Whylie said.
“Last couple weeks that you have been browsing through, will you take any active steps now to initiate any investigation based on what you have seen?” Senator Courtenay asked.
Whylie responded that he “would prefer to wait on the outcome” of the committee report. He said he was “very annoyed” when he browsed the report because he viewed the things the Auditor General discovered “as very grave in terms of what it is alleged some of these individuals have done.” Whylie said that he believed “the report contains sufficient, administratively, for the department to deal with some of these individuals.” He said he looks “forward to this committee report in terms of moving forward.”
Senator Lizarraga asked him if he saw, in the report he had perused over the last two weeks, “the countless instances where the Auditor General has highlighted that the police should investigate certain things.”
Whylie said that he had seen “at least 3 occasions where the Auditor General recommended that the police pursue certain things.” He “found it strange that the Auditor General would normally do the investigation, and if they find irregularities, they would send it to the Commissioner of Police. It wasn’t done in this case.”
“If I didn’t take the initiative of having an officer to get a copy of these to be browsing through, I would have come here today and I would be clueless,” he went on to remark.
“Commissioner, with the greatest of respect,” Senator Lizarraga said, “this is a national issue; it’s been going on for a long time. I find it incredible that you’ve not taken the initiative to get copies of these. You know that you do not need to have a report from this committee to commence your investigations, do you not?”
“But I will reserve the judgment, Senator. But I’ve heard what you said,” Whylie answered.
“But you realize, of course, that it has been said that the work of this committee would not have been necessary if you had done your work?” Senator Lizarraga said.
“Well, I haven’t heard, but again, as I indicated, what can I do if the Auditor General did not send them to me? There is a process, why wasn’t that process done in this case,” Commissioner Whylie asked.