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Feb 9, 2017

Why Public Service Commission Challenge Failed

As a result of the Won Hong Kim passport and Belizean nationality scandal, the Immigration Department was nearly turned upside down as both Police and internal probes took place. In the end, the blame for the granting of nationality was placed on three officers: Sharon Neal, Omar Phillips and Erwin Robinson. They were tried before the Public Service Commission on disciplinary charges a few years ago and were ultimately acquitted because of a technicality in the evidence. Then Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Immigration and Nationality, Candelaria Saldivar-Morter, remembers personally presenting the case. But the blame for it falling apart, she said, lay on then-Acting Director of Immigration Maria Marin.


Candelaria Saldivar-Morter

Candelaria Saldivar-Morter, Former C.E.O., Ministry of Immigration

“In terms of the other 3 officers we were looking at dismissal.”


Aldo Salazar, Chair, Senate Special Select Committee

“You wanted to have them dismissed?”


Candelaria Saldivar-Morter

“Yes sir.”


Ashley Rocke, Churches Senator

“And were they?”


Candelaria Saldivar-Morter

“No; actually, due to some technicality the case was thrown out by the Commission.”


Aldo Salazar

“Can you say what the technicality was?”


Candelaria Saldivar-Morter

“There was a memo issued by the then director which I was not aware of at the time when I took up the case which kind of had the whole case thrown out because…”


Mark Lizarraga

Mark Lizarraga, Business Community Senator

“And who was the director?”


Candelaria Saldivar-Morter

“The director at the time was Ms. Marin.”


Aldo Salazar

“Do you know if any reference was made to the police for a criminal investigation against them?”


Candelaria Saldivar-Morter

“The police was involved – against those officers, no because that was kind of administrative; the issuance of the passport was more administrative.”


Aldo Salazar

“The police was involved.”


Candelaria Saldivar-Morter

“The police was involved in terms of the nationality and the issuance of the nationality but that still has not yet been finalised as far as I can remember.”


Carla Barnett

Dr. Carla Barnett, U.D.P Senator

“The issue of the technicality, can you explain to me what the technicality.”


Candelaria Saldivar-Morter

“I cannot recall at this time. The memo that the counsel for Ms. Marin presented but it was contrary to what we knew were the procedures in the issuance of the passport and the check and balance that had to be in place and it had changed without my knowledge and I wasn’t aware of it until the memo was presented by the council for Ms. Neal and that throw everything out.”


Aldo Salazar

“So it was advertent?”


Candelaria Saldivar-Morter

“Yes, because we were saying one thing and the memo said something else.”

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