by Louis Wade
Won Hong Kim was in a Taiwanese prison about to be extradited to his home country of South Korea to answer to charges of embezzlement of Half a Billion dollars when the bright idea surfaced that, IF he were a citizen of another country, the officials must send him to that country instead. That other country had to be one where he could become a citizen and get a passport while still sitting in prison, without going to that Country, without appearing at their Embassy, and without appearing to take a picture and biometrics. What countries would do that? And How did he know that Belize would?
Who made the connection that moved Won Hong Kim’s Citizenship from a mere idea to where an actual BELIZE PASSPORT appeared in his hand? Who can do that? And how much did it cost?
Back in Belize Minister of State Elvin Penner had recently signed Belizean Nationality documents for a Chinese, a Taiwanese, a Vietnamese, and a Turkish citizen. According to COLA’s leaked Auditor General’s Preliminary Report None of them had clear proof that they had been in the Belize for the required 5 years period.
Who approached Penner on behalf of Won Hong Kim? How, and where? No record of Kim’s entry into Belize was found. And no record of his permanent residency. This alone disqualified Kim.
Penner walked into the Immigration and Nationality headquarters in Belmopan in “early September” 2013 and brought in Won Hong Kim’s application form. Kim was supposed to bring it in himself. Who filled out the application form that Penner brought in? Penner handed it to the Deputy OC, Adi Pacheco, who reported the incomplete file to the Officer in Charge. Penner promised the OC that the original documents would be brought in. Kim’s application for nationality was accepted by the officer in charge WITHOUT Kim being present. She did not issue a ‘Receipt of Acceptance’ to Minister Penner because of this. Penner never brought in the necessary original documents that must accompany applications nor did he ever pick up that receipt. The OC says that Penner claimed he would take the incomplete file directly to Director Maria Marin for her to “deal with”.
When asked why she accepted the incomplete file from Minister Penner Pacheco told Auditors that she did not want to be transferred to another post if she did not comply and that she felt intimidated by Minister Penner. The OC did not even look to see if there was a Permanent Residence File for Won Hong Kim as is the Protocol.
No one made a phone call to Kim to come for his mandatory interview. No one Interviewed him though EVERY potential citizen is to be questioned. No one called Kim to tell him he was approved and that he must come in to pay his $300.00. No record of Kim paying 300.00 registration fee for his nationality was found. Who approved the bypassing of these lawful procedures? Won Hong Kim never signed the Oath of Allegiance Card. Kim never attended a swearing in ceremony as stated by law as none was held since June!
Won Hong Kim got his nationality and Became a Belizean Citizen; his nationality certificate signed by Penner was dated 22nd April 2013. The certificate number, 28577/13, could not match April’s numbers; but corresponded instead with the 2nd September time frame. Auditors believe that the Nationality Certificate was issued in September but BACKDATED to say April 22nd.
Later in the same month of September Penner returned and requested the Won Hong Kim file. And “the file was given to him via letter form with other files included thereon”. “Ms Pacheco stated that the files were never returned from Minister Penner”.
The Passport process for Won Hong Kim was equally questionable. Who filled out the Application form for Kim’s passport? Who signed on behalf of Kim? The form was dated 3rd September but was located in the processing pile for 9th September. Whoever filled it wrote his last name as “KIN” not “KIM”. The recommender’s forms A and B were signed by Minister Elvin Penner and his “Minister’s Aide”, Alfonso Cruz Jr. Penner claimed on the form that he knew Won Hong Kim for three years as a friend. Cruz claimed he knew Kim for four years. The Auditor’s preliminary report states that the person who filled out Kim’s Passport Application looked like the same person who filled out the recommender’s forms. Revealing!
The 2 required photographs of Kim were absent and though the Passport OC, Sharon Flowers, did not sign the Passport Application, the BPIS system claimed she had approved it.
The sum of $250.00 was paid on that same 9th September to have Won Hong Kim’s Passport produced in 24hours. The Director of Immigration, Maria Marin, was supposed to sign and state “OK to Expedite” in order to speed up the process but there was NO SUCH INSTRUCTIONS written. Yet that SAME day the process to create the passport for Kim commenced at 10:50am and by 1:30pm it was done! From start to finish it took roughly one hour and a half!
Since Kim was in a Taiwanese prison at the time his passport was being processed in Belize no live facial image could be taken! Data Entry Operator, Erwin Robinson, took a picture of the picture in Kim’s Passport and placed that in the Belize passport. No biometrics (fingerprints) were taken! Even the signature on the Passport application form was different from the signature on the Passport itself. Who signed that one? Interestingly, the application that went in as KIN produced a Passport for KIM! Who changed it and upon whose instructions? Four people were involved in the transaction but only three were suspended. The Report says that the Auditor Generals office could not ascertain why Mark Tench was not suspended.
On the same 9th September Jose Cante picked up the Kim Passport. The authorization letter was undated but carried a signature. The Passport was handed over by Immigration officials even as the BPIS still states that the Passport is still at the Quality Assurance stage. Who could take the passport across at least 4 Borders and Customs and Immigrations Counters; each one a massive violation of International law? Someone did deliver it! The process to take it there seems so arduous that the even the government can’t seem to be able to bring it back.
As I conclude, please note that almost every sentence of today’s Column records a violation of the process for Acquiring Belizean Citizenship and Passport. Seems Won Hong Kim was well advised in his choice of Belize.