By Aaron Humes Freelance Reporter
An investigation into the Immigration Department, whether it was remiss in carryng out its duties in the issuing of passports, visas and permanent residenc may be completed by the end of February, Auditor General Dorothy Bradley told reporters on Wednesday.
However,there is still much work to do be done by the team assigned to go over thousands of files in the Department, she pointed out.
The team is currently reviewing files from the year 2012. It has completed those from January to September, 2013.
Bradley noted that a inquiry by the Senate, in tandem with the audit investigation, would not hamper the investigation effort. It may actually be of help in getting at the truth, she said/
Opposition Senator Lisa Shoman’s motion to initiate such an inquiry was defeated in a vote in the upper chamber late last year.
Bradley explained that her department’s investigation was separate from those of the Ministry itself, which are administrative in nature.
Her team’s investigation is also different from that of the police, who are concentrating on files that have gone missing from the department which have landed in the hands of attorney Arthur Saldivar.
It also differs from the Financial Intelligence Unit’s investigation, which has not revealed the scope of its probe under former director Marilyn Williams.
Bradley pointed out that it may be necessary to cooperate with some or all of those parties, but her department, as the supreme audit institution of the Government (though not officially independent due to budgeting and staffing concerns) has wider powers.
Attempts by the media this week to find out more about the status of those investigations from the key people involved, Maria Marin, Director of Immigration and Nationality; Ministry CEO Candelaria Saldivar-Morter and Police Commissioner Allen Whylie – were futile. None of them were available to answer questions.
As for the FIU’s probe, Williams has left her post as Director to go into private practice, and no other perso was available for comment.
In contrast, the Audit Department has developed a matrix for how it wants to proceed, and determined that it would examine every aspect of the Immigration and Nationality process, from file-keeping to recommendations for visas by Ministers.
While not commenting on precisely what has been found thus far, Bradley stated that her department has and authority given to it by law, to interview any and all involved, including Minister Godwin Hulse and former Minister of State, Elvin Penner.
The Prime Minister amd the Minister of Immigration and Nationality will be the first to receive the Audit report when it is completed.
The investigation will include looking at what the Audit Department is provided with by the Immigration Department along with what it gathers from other sources.
The Auditor General has declined to comment on reports of a “clean-up” of the Department’s files, particularly ones that could implicate senior officials.
The Audit Department typically monitors its sources for potential investigative reviews across the Government and assigns its staff to those deemed the most pressing.
The office has previously complained of its lack of independence but, especially in this case, it wants the investigation and the department to be seen as operating impartially.
The Auditor General has said she is satisfied with the progress of the investigation and also that the department has not been experienced anypressure from outside influences.
The Audit investiation, which was not invited by the Government, came after much internal planning, and may be extended, depending on the results obtained.