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Feb 22, 2017

Teresita Castellanos Says Few Records Were Kept for Passports

Teresita Castellanos

Former finance officer in the Department, Teresita Castellanos last week dared to say what no else would, at least publicly. At her second appearance before the Senate Special Select Committee last Wednesday, she disclosed that a culture of corruption and hustling existed at the Department. In this regime, Immigration officers, abetted by their superiors, acted as a law unto themselves. Castellanos earned major kudos from all walks of society, though her ex-bosses such as Minister Godwin Hulse were more sceptical.  Today, she returned for more pedestrian testimony about her job in the Department. In the case of issuing of passports, that indispensable tool of travel, the Department did not keep consistent checks of what happened to the bulks of passports that were issued until the end of the period under question in the Auditor General’s Report, meaning that there is no record of how these passports were issued unless they were cancelled and returned.

 

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Business Community

“You kept a register for the big incoming amounts, the five thousand. I asked you if there was a system in place to keep track and did you audit that system, and you said no: so no, you didn’t audit it, or no, there was not a system in place? And I asked you what was the system in place for that?”

 

Teresita Castellanos, Former Finance Officer, Immigration Department

“But I’m telling you that if I didn’t audit anything, I would be clueless; I wouldn’t even know where my passports [were]; all that information – it’s probably the way you’re asking – all that information, we used to do that; but the only thing is what I’m telling you is a report was not – say when you came in and you had an exhausted amount and you wanted five hundred more, a report did not come in on who it was – the example, who it was issued to, the country, the passport number – that information, yes was… and like the Senator said, that was not being sent to me, not because I didn’t ask for it; but it was just not in place at the time, and that was the way it was being done because that was the way it was handed to me, but in 2013 that was put in place.”

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