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Jan 18, 2017

Why Immigration Did Not Pursue Visa Foil Sellers

Aldo Salazar

The afternoon session of the Committee opened with a look at an internal report concerning an apparent illegal sale of visa stickers to then-Deputy Mayor of Belize City Eric Chang by an Immigration officer. Chang’s name was also called in the infamous Won Hong Kim case. The scheme was reported by another officer, who later issued Government of Belize receipts for the respective visa numbers. The loss was about eight hundred dollars, but it was an instance recorded in the Auditor General’s report as an example of breakdowns in the Department – after all, who would have need for a stolen visa foil? But despite starting an investigation under the control of Deputy Maria Marin, Director Ruth Meighan said no one was ultimately criminally or otherwise punished, as the investigation meandered on after she left the office.

 

Aldo Salazar, Chair, Senate Select Committee

“If eight visa stickers went missing—this is on page fourteen—went missing on twenty-sixth December 2012, why was it not until the twenty-ninth December 2012 that Cano gave approval for the eight visa numbers to be issued to applicants? So the numbers were issued because they could ascertain what numbers were missing, but the foils were not issued along with the visa. That is the understanding that I have. So was Mister Cano authorized to issue government of Belize receipts for visas, with those visa numbers, without the attendant visa foils?”

 

Ruth Meighan

Ruth Meighan, Former Director of Immigration

“I don’t believe so.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“Was there any, apart from the investigation as to who stole the visa foils, was there any investigation commenced to your knowledge against any of the immigration officers involved? I am not saying that any of them were involved.”

 

Ruth Meighan

“Not up to when I was there, no.”

Aldo Salazar

“Can you say why there was no… If you have said that you believe that Officer Cano was wrong to issue the visas with those numbers without the attendant visa foils, could you say why there was no investigation or no disciplinary action?”

 

Ruth Meighan

“There was an investigation. As I said, upon my return and hearing that the visa stubs were missing, I asked the deputy director because she was the one…”

 

Aldo Salazar

“I’m not speaking about the missing foils; I am speaking about to issue the visas without the foils.”

 

Ruth Meighan

“I think that would have been a part of the investigation.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“Was there any disciplinary action, to your knowledge, taken as a result of that?”

 

Ruth Meighan

“Not that I know of, no.”

 

Meighan declined media interviews at the lunch break and when the session ended around three this afternoon. She will return for next week Wednesday’s session of the Committee.

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