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Aug 23, 2016

News Five’s First Look at the Special Audit Report on Nationality

The Special Audit Report on Nationality at the Immigration and Nationality Department, 2011-2013, to be laid at the House of Representatives this coming Friday. The audit was concluded three years later and sent to the Prime Minister by the Auditor General, Dorothy Bradley, on May thirty-first of this year. It details a very long list of irregularities and outright fraud perpetuated on the system when it comes to granting nationality certificates, passports and visas. Many of the players are familiar; their tactics even more so. Correspondent Aaron Humes takes a look at the voluminous report and uncovers the winding trail.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

“It appeared that an illegitimate Belizean citizenship and passport scheme was operating in violation of the laws which governs the issuance of nationality and passport in the country.” That simple sentence, part of finding six point two of the Special Audit Report on Nationality at the Immigration and Nationality Department between April of 2011 and September of 2013, sets the table for what is to come: four hundred pages, chapter and verse, of a scheme terribly familiar to Belizeans who have been forced to share our national patrimony with people who have either never set foot on the shores of the Jewel, or if they did, stuck around just long enough to claim, briefly, Belize as their own.

Most infamously, there was Won-Hong Kim, facilitated with his very own fraudulent Belizean nationality and replacement permanent residence permit despite being on the other side of the world in a Taiwanese jail. He never personally paid a dime for either, nor could he come to claim his Belizean birthright – but that was because he had a very good friend in Belize: the former Minister of State for Immigration and Nationality, Elvin Penner. According to the testimony of Gordon Wade, officer in charge of nationality, Penner never delivered the necessary documents for approval of Kim’s nationality despite promising to do so; instead he requested the file for the personal attention of then-Director Maria Marin. Wade’s assistant, Ady Pacheco, was apparently indecisive about whether to go over Penner’s head to substantive boss Godwin Hulse, so she hoped Penner would fill in the missing requirements such as a police report; he never did.

Elvin Penner

Penner was also a good friend to Yakup Sut; to Yiu-Pang (Peter Pang) Chen; to Jack Jie (Marc Chin) Qin; and to Quoc Vinh (Simon) Truong; all fraudulently given nationality certificate despite key elements of their applications being missing. Each also applied for passports based on these bogus nationality certificates.

But Penner was not the only violator among Government ministers. The audit report found that under the guise of seeking investment in the country, Minister of Trade Erwin Contreras invited a group of Chinese investors led by one Roger Tien to visit in 2012. Seems above-board, but one of those “consultants,” Jin Chen An, was later issued a Belizean nationality certificate despite only applying for a two-week visa to visit Belize in November of 2012 on business; he was supposed to be staying at the San Ignacio Hotel. Jin’s visa was approved on October 24th, 2012 by then-Director Ruth Meighan, based on Minister Contreras’ letter, despite her own note attached that “applicant decided they do not need visa again.”

But it doesn’t end there. Jin had apparently been living in Belize from 2007 and had opened a place of business, National Bar and Restaurant at mile two and a half Philip Goldson Highway, and had a Chinese passport and U.S. visa. The affidavit on the nationality application form was witnessed by a Chinese justice of the peace of the same address and refereed by two Belize City businessmen: Wayne Mario Hulse, who apparently met Jin at the market, and Steven Young, who knew him through the J.P.; but both claimed they knew him for five years!

Jin Chen An also got a police record – searched and verified – and signed illegibly on behalf of woman Sergeant of Police Eleanor Ramirez and, allegedly, Keith Lino, acting for then Assistant Commissioner of Police Miguel Segura.

But all of this was based on a bogus Chinese passport issued May 2006 with many equally bogus stamps inside for travel to Belize and working for various places of employment but no sign of any entry visa from Mexico to Belize.

But who needs all of that, when you’ve got then-area representative for Caribbean Shores and Minister of State for Economic Development Santino Castillo on your side? He wrote Ruth Meighan to support Jin’s application for nationality on September thirteen, 2012 – before Jin even applied for a visa – and in the letter referred to her as female – we presume they never actually met.

But wait, there’s more. According to the auditors, “replacement nationality certificates were fraudulently backdated and fraudulent nationality was given under the guise of registration and the Belize Economic Citizenship Investment Programmes.”

Wait, what? Didn’t Belize end economic citizenship in 2002? Well, someone forgot to give Tony in Dalian, China, the memo. He told a couple that they were applying for economic citizenship, but in fact they and many others became Belizeanized by registration – and they got passports, too. Not to mention other applicants from Russia, China and elsewhere.

And according to paragraph eighty-nine point five of the report, two spreadsheets of persons who received Belizean nationality during the period investigated, April 2011 to September 2013 were received and many of these persons were in fact approved and issued nationality certificates just before the 2012 municipal and general elections.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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4 Responses for “News Five’s First Look at the Special Audit Report on Nationality”

  1. Al says:

    yeah, yeah. Names are named and documented. So when will we see some of these cronies go to jail? When pigs fly. All a waste of time.

  2. carlos says:

    What a corrupt government we have and all these ministers are still in government . Mr. Barrow should be a shame to have a corrupt group around him. He campaigned on the grounds to reduce corruption in government but he has just done the opposite. Mr. Barrow should resign now before the people remove him Shame, shame, shame.

  3. MNHG says:

    WOW !….. WOW O WOW !!!
    AAAAH?
    DON`T WORRY, “THE BEST IS YET TO COME”.
    PLEASE….CAN WE GET SOME OF THAT FILTHY MONEY TO BUILD OR ATLEAST REPAIR THE WOODEN BRIDGE IN CAYO?
    SOME SAY THAT WE CAN DO EVIL WITH GOOD, THIS TIME WE TURN IT AROUND AND DO GOOD WITH EVIL…EVIL MONEY I MEAN.

  4. John says:

    Yeah yeah blah blah blah! I could bet if we have elections next week the people of Belize will still vote for barrow! The best is yet to come!

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