By Ingrid Fernandez
The People’s United Party (PUP) and Citizens Organized for Liberty Through Action (COLA), this week, expressed their dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the David Nanes Schnitzer’s case.
The opposition said: “The PUP records its deep dis-satisfaction with the handling of the case of international fugitive David Miguel Nanes Schnitzer a.k.a. “David Banes” by the Ministries of National Security and Immigration, and expresses urgent concern with the apparent dereliction of duty by both those Ministries in this matter.”
Activist agency COLA joined the demand for justice stating: “How does Belize’s justice system reconcile granting bail to a man accused of grave crimes, who is no longer a Belizean and never truly was…We are left to ask this following the events involving David Miguel Nanes Schnitzer, a man of many names and even more money, who has apparently managed to comprehensively intrude into Belize, buying everyone in his path, in an attempt to distance himself from one of the largest fraud schemes in history.”
Minister of Immigration Godwin Hulse released a statement accepting that Schnizter presented false documents to acquire Belizean citizenship. The entry note reads: “Whereas it appears to me that David M Banes, known as David Miguel Nanes Schnitzer…who was registered as a citizen of Belize as evidenced by certificate of registration dated 17th November, 2012, was so registered by means of fraud, false representation and the concealment of material circumstance and by mistake.”
The matter of obtaining nationality documents illegally does not sit well with the PUP. According to the PUP, the reccurrence of these incidents, citing the Won Hong Kim-Elvin Penner case, are signs of the corruption in the Immigration Department.
“The Nanes Schnitzer case proves once again that there is hidden rot in the Immigration Department and that such rot is institutionalized and will mar the reputation of our nation, making us seem to be condoning or complicit in corrupt practices, or grossly incompetent or both”, the PUP said.
As it is clear that Schnitzer committed illegal activity to acquire nationality, the PUP is demanding that the Ministry of Immigration and the Ministry of National Security immediately provide an explanation as to why Schnitzer has not been charged with using “fraud, false representation and the concealment of material circumstance” to obtain Belizean documents.
According to COLA, “The David Schnitzer matter deserves full and thorough investigation. We need to hear publicly from the Minister for Immigration and Nationality, the so-called “Lockdown Minister”, to find out why he couldn’t lock this one down.
“We need to hear from the new Attorney General, to say what standards are in place for bail grant and procedure. And also, from the Minister of National Security, about why Schnitzer was not properly vetted by his agencies before being allowed improperly to share a piece of the Jewel.”
The PUP condemned the Departments’ failure and demanded that Prime Minister Dean Barrow immediately look into the Schnizter case at the next House of Representatives sitting scheduled for December 4th.
Schnitzer, who was arrested on November 3rd on fraud charges in association with the Standford Ponzi scheme, which defrauded investors of more than seven billion dollars, was discovered to have falsified a permanent residence, citizenship and a Belizean passport to reside in the country.
He was living in San Pedro under the false name David Banes for more than three years. After his real identity was discovered, his passport was cancelled. Schnitzer’s discovery has caused outrage from the opposition and activists claiming he was aided in acquiring Belizean documents.
After his arrest, he was granted bail againstobjections ions that Nanes Schnitzer might be a flight risk. Schnitzer has since left the country and his whereabouts now are unknown.