By Aaron Humes Freelance Reporter
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. June 19, 2014
Minister of Immigration and Nationality Senator Godwin Hulse says the “chain of custody” regarding the file of Won Hong Kim broke down after ex-Minister of State in his Ministry, Elvin Penner, took that file and others from the Department sometime in September of 2013.
He told reporters that there is nothing to say what happened to the files Penner asked for and received on the date referred to by Ady Pacheco, immigration officer, in her interview with the investigating auditors of the Audit Department, as chronicled in the Preliminary Report of that office leaked last week to Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA).
According to Hulse, the cover letter referred to establishes a chain of custody for prepared files that need the Minister’s final signature before swearing-in and preparation of documents. After signing off, Penner should have returned the file to the Department – and says he did – but there is nothing to indicate such in the Department. No one has seen the file since.
The letter itself, he noted, is not “untoward” and that was made clear to all the investigating parties including the Auditor General.
As to allegations that Pacheco told the Audit officials that she wrote Minister Hulse himself with a list of the files Penner retrieved from the Department, Hulse categorically denied them.
“(She) never sent any letter to me…absolutely not…categorically no. So if she says that that is absolutely incorrect,” the Minister said.
At this point, there is nothing, he said, indicating that Penner wrote back saying he had returned the files, and no one has seen them.
Did Penner go back into the Department after he had been fired over the Kim matter by Prime Minister Dean Barrow? Kim’s passport application was finished on September 9 and he was fired ten days later on September 19, immediately following a report from the Taiwanese Belize Embassy in Taiwan.
If there was any evidence that he did, says Hulse, then Pacheco “is on the line.”
A final report is being prepared by the Audit Department.