General

Attorneys say immigration officers have no case to answer. But Minister says “Not so!”

By Marion V. Ali
Staff Reporter

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Feb 18th, 2014
The attorney for two Ministry of Immigration officers named in the ongoing “Citizen Kim” scandal says his clients have no case to answer to, but Immigration Minister Godwin Hulse said Monday that that’s not the case.
Hulse told the media this week that as far as he knows, they had received a letter last Friday from the Nationality Department’s Ady Pacheco and Gordon Wade’s attorney, Godfrey Smith, saying that there is no case to answer.
According to 7 News, who had obtained a copy of letter, Smith wrote:
“My clients say that any such misprocedure – as all of Belize knows – was conceived and engineered by [former] Minister of State Elvin Penner, acting either personally or through instructions directed at public officers.”
Smith’s letter went on to state that “contrary to Prime Minister [Dean] Barrow’s assertion that no public officer will be sacrificed for the actions of a minister, the intention of the department is for my clients to be scapegoats for Minister Penner’s disgraceful actions.
The letter, (which was dated for January 30, 2014), states that Wade and Pacheco could not be in breach of any policies, as “they have never been provided with any outline of their specific duties. In short, they cannot be accused of acting in breach of ‘policies’ or ‘duties’ that are non-existent.”
Smith goes on to ask Acting Director of Immigration Maria Marin to provide a copy of the department’s established policies and procedures.
He also asks for a copy of the document that stipulates duties and responsibilities of his clients, and “a list of the BNA files which are unaccounted for and are nowhere to be found.”
Following the receipt of Smith’s letter, , Hulse explained that Director of Immigration Maria Marin, after consulting the Solicitor General, decided to take the matter to the Public Service Commission.
“As you know, the public service commission is the entity that deals with all public officers, so the director will say to the public service commission ‘I have ask some questions, I haven’t gotten a satisfactory response, I now put it in your hands.’ I think that where we are with that,” Hulse added.
Marin had given both Pacheco and Wade a two-week time frame to answer pertinent questions regarding their alleged involvement in the passport scandal involving Penner and South Korean white-collar criminal Wonhong Kim.
Hulse said, “The director was satisfied that there were enough questions that she needed to ask both Ms. Pacheco and Mr. Wade to respond to.”
Prior to their placement under scrutiny, three persons, the Supervisor of the Nationality Section, Sharon Flowers-Neal; Omar Phillips; and Erwin Robinson, were suspended on the recommendation to be terminated.
As Hulse explained it, there is a process to be followed, and clearly that process wasn’t followed.
It started from the first person who accepted the application on behalf of “Citizen Kim.”
That process included checking if the person applying for the visa is the person whose picture accompanies the application, checking that the person whose picture is being taken is the one that ends up on the application, and on the part of the Supervisor, ensure that all the data provided are lined up before he or she approves the document.
That was not done in Kim’s case and Hulse says that these are the questions they’re going to answer to the Commission, including that how is it that the picture of a man who never visited the Immigration Department to take his picture end up on the document, and how is it that the application was received from someone who was never in Belize, although his application was certified that he was the person.
Another question that Hulse says needs to be answered by Sharon Flowers Neal is how Kim’s application could have been certified to be in order when it wasn’t.

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