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Mar 16, 2017

How BPIS Failed in Won Hong Kim Case

Rodolfo Bol

Bol was also questioned on the most infamous example of how the Belize Passport and Information System was breached during the tenure covered by the Auditor General’s Report from 2011 to 2013. That is South Korean fugitive Won Hong Kim, who made a desperate bid to obtain Belizean nationality and a passport to claim citizenship that he did not have, because he never set foot in Belize. Kim’s photograph from his South Korean passport was entered into the Belize system, bypassing the regulation that all applicants present themselves in person at the Belmopan Immigration office – because of course, he was in a Taiwanese immigration detention center awaiting extradition to South Korea. But how did the picture get there? Staff constraints meant that officers like the one accused of introducing the photo, Erwin Robinson, were handed multiple roles in the system that was manipulated.

 

Aldo Salazar

Aldo Salazar, Chair, Senate Special Senate Committee

“The question is this: in your opinion, how is it that the picture, the image of someone who was never present in Belize, was never present at the passport office, who was in detention – how could an image of him get onto a passport?”

 

Rodolfo Bol, Former Systems Manager, Immigration Department

“I wouldn’t be able to answer you on that.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“You don’t have an opinion? I’m just saying…”

 

Rodolfo Bol

“Just to what we did with Minister Hulse and Miss Maria Marin – we actually tried to do that; picture of a picture, and we did something; it’s on the system, we can show what was the result of it, and beyond that…”

 

Aldo Salazar

“And it worked?”

 

Rodolfo Bol

“Well we did not go on through the whole process; we just did the data entry part of it; the picture is there for you all to see. I mentioned this to the Auditor General; I think it is mentioned here in the report.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“The image of Won Hong Kim – what purports to be the image of Won Hong Kim; you’ve said that there was no way that image could have been taken previously by the system?”

 

Rodolfo Bol

“No, it will show a date there when it was taken.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“And the user is there?”

 

Rodolfo Bol

“Yes, and the user is there.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“So it is beyond question that Mr. Robinson was the operator who got the image of Won Hong Kim into the system?”

 

Rodolfo Bol

“That is what is on the system, that’s what’s recorded – his name, his user name. His account was used.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“Right, his account was used?”

 

Rodolfo Bol

“His account was used. I’ve been in meetings where this has been a discussion, and the discussion has always been on the limited number of staff members in the Passport Section and the constraints. If for example we don’t have the QA person come in today, then we won’t be able to issue passports, because of one person being sick or absent – so how do we address those issues? I believe that’s more administrative than technically, because technically, we could have limited one person to one role, but you also have the supervisors who need to do their work and at the end of the day they were calling me – only the supervisors asking we need this person to also be assigned QA, so that we can proceed with the work that has to be done.”

 

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Business Community

“Let me ask you a question here:  so it’s possible to have more than one person assigned to a particular role: in other words, could you have several active data entry operators?”

 

Rodolfo Bol

“We have.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“And you could have several active approvals?”

 

Rodolfo Bol

“Yes, it’s possible. It’s possible.”

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