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Feb 23, 2017

Ex-Nationality Chief Details How Vetting Corners Were Cut

Even though Prime Minister Dean Barrow continues to deny that the cut corners in the Immigration Department compromised the nationality of those registered in the run-up to the 2012 general elections, further testimony revealed that even with the greater number of applications coming in, the number of staff doing checks did not increase significantly as the Department trusted its compromised process. Chief of Nationality Gordon Wade recalled those hectic days for the Senate Special Select Committee on Wednesday.

 

Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator
“The level of vetting that was taking place was it anymore intense or less intense that the ordinary?”

 

Gordon Wade

Gordon Wade, Former Officer in Charge, Nationality Section
Sir, with the magnitude of applications I don’t think they could have been more. I remember it was a time between let’s say three, four months and the magnitude that was done in that time I don’t think it could have been more scrutiny.”

 

Eamon Courtenay
“So what you are saying and I want to be very clear is that because of the amount and the significant amount and the short period of processing, you’re saying that the vetting was not more than usual?”

 

Gordon Wade
“No.”

 

Eamon Courtenay
“Would it be less?”

 

Gordon Wade
“Could definitely be.”

 

Eamon Courtenay
“Now there are only a finite number of people in the vetting department?”

 

Gordon Wade
“Final vetting in the department should be done by myself.”

 

Eamon Courtenay
“But below that where the vetting is taking place, how many employees, how many officers?”

 

Gordon Wade
“At any given time I would say two to three others – which would be considered a pre vetting because final vetting was done by the officer in charge. So the other officers in the section would have done a pre vetting.”

 

Eamon Courtenay
“What I want to know is at this time again around up to the 2012 election when things were being expedited, was there an increase in the number of officers who were doing the pre vetting or was it just the same two?”

 

Gordon Wade
“During that time there were officers that were doing final vetting not only pre vetting, a part from myself.”

 

Eamon Courtenay
“So there were people who were actually giving final approval and recommendation?”

 

Gordon Wade
“Final recommendation to the director.”

 

Eamon Courtenay
“Not you; in addition to you?”

 

Gordon Wade
“Not only me; in addition to me.”

 

Eamon Courtenay
“So was there extra staff brought on?”

 

Gordon Wade
“From the office in Belmopan from the different sections.”

 

Eamon Courtenay
“Isn’t that out of the ordinary?”

 

Gordon Wade
“Considering, yes, that’s why the sections are specific.”

 

Eamon Courtenay
“And so this was being done to facilitate…”

 

Gordon Wade
“The magnitude of applications that were being processed during that time.”

 

Eamon Courtenay
“And then finally, for some time it was known that a substantial number of these nationalities were approved on files that were incomplete to be charitable, let’s say incomplete- has there been any review in the immigration department of these files to go back to see how many of them were complete, how many were incomplete?”

 

Gordon Wade
“No sir that has never been done.”

 

Eamon Courtenay
“So there is now review to saw that those persons who are walking around with passports that they are not legally entitled to – to find those people and cancel their passports.”

 

Gordon Wade
“No, sir; that has never been done.”

 

Eamon Courtenay
“Does the law provide for persons who receive passports on a process that is incomplete, what is to happen to those?”

 

Gordon Wade
“Those can be revoked.”

 

According to Wade, there were files, marked incomplete, sent up to the Director’s level that were never returned, but these mostly happened during that election rush.

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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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