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Aug 22, 2016

Auditor General’s Special Audit Report on Passport and Immigration

As many as five years ago, a major immigration scandal rocked the government. It was revealed that ministers as well as senior officials were involved in facilitating visa approvals to hundreds of persons who did not quality. In fact, this station was taken to court by Minister of State Edmund Castro and after damning information on visa issuance was revealed, Castro withdrew his suit.  Finally, this Friday, a special audit by the office of the Auditor General will be tabled in the House on the passport, immigration and nationality department. The audit covers the period of 2011 and 2013. There are three reports and tonight, we have perused the documents and can say the following. First on the visas – the auditor general identified inconsistencies in the processing and issuance of visas to persons who did not qualify. Ministers such as Elvin Penner, Erwin Contreras and Edmond Castro as well as Hugo Patt were among the ministers who made recommendations for visas approvals. Former C.E.O. Candelaria Saldivar-Morter, Frank Papa Mena, now a minister of state, as well as former minister of state, Michel Hutchinson are also named. Penner is no longer in government, but other ministers named continue to sit around in Cabinet. Four hundred and sixty visa foil stickers were returned to the department of which four hundred were unaccounted for. A long list of visas, Belizean nationality and passports were approved to Chinese nationals who did into qualify. Others included Koreans, Colombians and Iranians obtained visas, but did not have the required security clearance. The system was so corrupt that even Cubans in prisons got visas to remain in Belize instead of being deported.

Turning to the passports. The Auditor General confirms what is well-known; that the passport issuance system was breached in various ways. One infamous case is that of South Korean national, Wong Hong Kim, but there many more cases including nationals from Turkey, Russia, and primarily Chinese nationals. Irregularities riddled the system and there was a breakdown in the internal control policy and procedures. As many as fifty-five thousand passports were approved without biometric checks and at least one passport was from a batch of stolen passports. The Immigration Department was found to lack accountability as numerous stolen, unaccounted and apparent fraudulent Manuel Jumbo and Ordinary passports were among cancelled passports presented for the audit. The audit also found that an alleged human trafficker obtained nationality and registration and that numerous persons who entered Belize with visas received passports within days, weeks or months. That is only the tip of the iceberg as it relates to the scandal and we will have more in Tuesday’s newscast.

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3 Responses for “Auditor General’s Special Audit Report on Passport and Immigration”

  1. Brandon says:

    The Best is truly yet to come!!!!

  2. karla heusner says:

    What connection here with the minister of state who recently had us visa revoked. Wasn’t she under Penner? So did US gov people see this report before released to belizeans?

  3. MNHG says:

    “As many as fifty-five thousand passports were approved without biometric checks and at least one passport was from a batch of stolen passports.”
    WOW! WOW ! WOW !!!
    FIFTY FIVE THOUSAND PASSPOTS !!!
    NO WONDER WE SEE SO MANY F&&^^*IN ALIENS TAKING AWAY THE JOBS, OUR LANDS , OUR BELIZEAN OPPORTUNITIES !!!
    WAIT !!! THAT IS NOTHING YET !!! THE BEST IS YET TO COME !!!

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