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Jan 4, 2017

Senate Special Committee Meets with Maria Marin

Maria Marin

The first hearing of the Special Senate Select Committee for 2017 was hosted at the National Assembly, Belmopan. Sitting before the six-member panel was senior official of the Immigration Department, Maria Marin. Marin, now the Director for the Refugee Department in the Ministry, served as deputy and acting director of the Immigration Department in 2012 and 2013, at the tail end of the Special Audit Report’s time covered and around the time the Won Hong Kim scandal broke. Marin, flanked by Darrell Bradley as her attorney, has spoken publicly about her role, or lack thereof, in that and other alleged misdeeds by the Department, but her testimony in the Senate is for the public record, and she strove today to convince the Senators that she nor her officers tried to obstruct the auditors from completing their job at either the preliminary or final stage. She also suggested that her superior, former Chief Executive Officer Candelaria Saldivar-Morter dropped the ball in the initial response to the Auditor General’s preliminary version of the report, necessitating Marin herself to step forward.

 

Maria Marin, Former Director of Immigration

“There was never ever resistance; I think that I gave them every opportunity to look at every document that they requested that I had in my possession or was at the Department at the time. I had a meeting with my officers in charge, heads of sections, to ensure that they were cooperative and that they provided everything that was available at the Department and with them for the Audit. I understand what an audit is; in my previous jobs I was privy to audits being made there and I knew the significance of an audit. I knew this audit could only be a positive thing for the Department and so, I welcomed it. I first became aware of the Preliminary Report via that email. I contacted my Ministry and I asked whether they had a copy and whether I could get a copy of it. And that is why I explained in my response to the Auditor General…”

 

Mark Lizarraga, Business Community Senator

“Which we have not seen.”

 

Maria Marin

“Right, that I sincerely – can I read it? – it says, I sincerely regret the delay in responding to the Report, but it was only on the twenty-second of July, 2014, that I was able to get a copy of the report after having made several requests for a copy of the [preliminary] report. Additionally, I had been advised that the C.E.O. would respond to your report as to the concerns noted with its contents. When I read that Preliminary Report via email, I immediately contacted my Ministry…”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“Who in the Ministry?”

 

Maria Marin

“My C.E.O. and my Minister in the Ministry, both. And I asked about it, and I asked if anybody would respond, or if anybody had responded, and I was told that yes, the C.E.O. would have responded. I asked for a copy of the response of the C.E.O. and a copy of the Preliminary Report. When I finally got a copy of those two, in my view, what I read as the C.E.O.’s response – I was not satisfied with it. So I decided that I would write my response, and there is an explanation there as to the need for me to do that.”

 

Marin was referring to an email she received around the time the preliminary report into the inquiry was widely released. The report had been forwarded to then-C.E.O. Saldivar-Morter, who was tasked with responding. 

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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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