BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Aug. 25, 2016–The release of the Auditor General’s report on the Immigration Department scandal, which will be tabled at the House of Representatives meeting on Friday, has begun to refocus national attention on a number of illegalities stemming from corrupt practices during the period the report covers, between 2011 and 2013.
A lot of high level efforts went into perverting the course of justice in the early part of the process of addressing the scandals at the Immigration Department. In regards to the Elvin Penner passport scandal, the government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow went on a mission to make sure that no one would be held criminally responsible for the illegal sale of a Belize passport by Penner to a man who had never set foot in Belize.
The orders were given for the police’s investigative team to limit their investigation to the PUP attorney Arthur Saldivar, and how he managed to obtain Immigration Department documents, a retired senior police officer who called KREM’s Wake Up Belize Morning Vibes (WUB) confirmed yesterday, Monday morning.
That is why the Belize passport that was issued to the South Korean criminal Won Hong Kim was returned to the country and not even a whisper came out of the criminal justice system.
There was a massive coverup, although the DPP had spoken about indictable offences that were committed that are not statute-barred almost three years ago when the scandal broke with the sacking of Penner from the Cabinet of Prime Minister Dean Barrow.
Retired Superintendent of Police, Julio Valdez, told the WUB that in the police investigation that he was leading, he was ordered to only focus on how Saldivar had come in possession of the trove of immigration documents which were reflecting irregularities at the Immigration Department.
WUB host Mose Hyde asked Valdez if the investigation involved interviewing any of the people in question, or if it was just dealing with documents.
Valdez replied that it only entailed looking at documents.
Hyde then asked Valdez if there was enough information in the documents to justify criminal charges.
Valdez replied yes. Then he cited examples of Asians who came into the country and were granted nationality in a short space of time.
This morning, Thursday, Valdez told Amandala that he was investigating how the immigration documents ended up at Saldivar’s house.
The documents that Saldivar came in possession of, around the time the Won Hong Kim passport scandal had broken, were allegedly documents that were scheduled to be destroyed, but Saldivar had gotten a hold of them before they could be destroyed.
During the course of that investigation, Valdez explained, “I discovered that people were entering the country on the April 17 and by the May 17, they had Belize passports. That was my investigation that I started.”
“But some of the people did not even land in the country, and they got nationality documents. When I started that and I started to ask questions, they said well, stop that investigation,” Valdez explained.
Valdez said that the Won Hong Kim/Penner passport scandal had not yet come to the surface when Saldivar got a hold of the immigration papers.
Valdez added that he never investigated the Won Hong Kim passport scandal. “A different team of CIB [officers] investigated that, but that investigation was never finished,” he said.