Why Were Mark Tench and Vernon Leslie Targeted in Visa Investigation?
Did the Immigration Department try to sweep the visa foils affair under the rug and turn on the man who instigated an investigation of the matter? Immigration Officer Mark Tench said as much at Wednesday’s public hearings of the Special Senate Select Committee, where he accused the Department of attempting to make him a scapegoat because he allegedly failed to properly report the loss – later categorized as theft – of eight missing visa foils from the Western Border Station in December of 2012. He especially questions former C.E.O. of the Ministry of Immigration Candelaria Saldivar-Morter’s recollection of events at the Commission – whom, he said, found him not guilty of the disciplinary charges and never charged him or anybody else for the visa foils as Saldivar-Morter claimed at her appearance in early February. Here is how he explained it.
Mark Tench, Former Supervisor of Immigration, Western Border
“As far as I know, me and Mister Leslie was blamed for these visas being missing. I am the only person [who] has done any investigation on this matter. And even when they had the hearing last year, and we got exonerated from that hearing, through the Public Service Commission, they still have not done any investigation. And the thing about is that it is unfair to the Department, the scandal in the Department, all the Immigration officers who have been dragged here, and the real culprits have never even been asked a simple question. It’s so unfair. And then on another matter to have Miss Saldivar come here and slander my name publicly, that’s so…”
Aldo Salazar, Chairman, Senate Special Committee
“What are you referring to?”
“When she came and she said she took me in front of the Commission and I paid money, none of that is the truth. And I thought that maybe the committee had done their research concerning what was the result of that previously hearing that we had at the Public Service Commission. We had a hearing there, they even have recordings of those hearing if you want to listen to them – but nobody knew, nobody could have stopped her from scandalling my name.”
“You were taken before the Public Service Commission for discipline in relation to the missing visas?”
“Yes, and they used the report we did to try to say that we are guilty of that.”
“That’s what am I referring to, when Miss Saldivar – but I believe she also mentioned another hearing related to you?”
“I didn’t go to any hearing. Miss Saldivar wasn’t even in the Department. Miss Saldivar is saying that I was charged sixteen thousand dollars but that never happened; I have my letter right here saying that I was exonerated of all those things.”