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May 9, 2017

Elvin Penner to Break Silence at Senate on Wednesday But What Will He Say?

Elvin Penner

On Wednesday, former Minister of State for Immigration and Nationality, Elvin Penner, is to be questioned by the six members of the Senate Special Select Committee. It makes for high stakes and high drama especially as many of the witnesses that have gone before him have implicated him by name as the moving hand behind the scenes at the embattled Department. Penner has promised full cooperation with the Committee in answering questions about his tenure with the Department and especially about his role in the Won Hong Kim case. Aaron Humes has a brief recap of what has happened since October of 2013 and a preview of what to look forward to on Wednesday.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

After his firing by Prime Minister Dean Barrow in October of 2013 in relation to the Won Hong Kim scandal, former Minister of State responsible for Immigration and Nationality, Elvin Penner, kept a very low profile, refusing to speak even a word in relation to his activities in his post between 2010 and 2013. He survived a recall attempt, a lengthy private prosecution in respect to the scandal, and the scorn of the general public, exacerbated when he said this following a court appearance about a year and a half after his firing.

 

Elvin Penner, Former U.D.P. Minister [File: February 27th, 2015]

“The trial is in process, and I’m not going to say if I would even comment afterwards. All I will say is that it is still with the Magistrate, and I cannot comment. I am satisfied with how the case is going so far. What I would advise to the media is to try and go and chase something out there that is not a ghost. We have a person out there in Orange Walk that has been charged for an offence that is in my view far greater than anything that has been alleged about me. Why don’t you chase that matter instead of chasing this matter here? Make some prioritization.”

 

And while Penner has had little to say, he is expected to have a lot to say to the Senate Special Select Committee on Wednesday – and much to answer for as well. For instance, what was he really doing at the Department alongside a man who counter clerk Omar Phillips was told was Won Hong Kim, the South Korean fugitive who was actually across the world in a detention center in Taiwan?

 

Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator [File: April 27th, 2017]

“You know Elvin Penner?”

 

Omar Phillips, Former Data Entry Clerk, Immigration Department [File: April 27th, 2017]

“Yes.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“What capacity did he go there that day?”

 

Omar Phillips

“Well, he was the minister at the time.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“But he didn’t come there to perform any ministerial function, did he?”

 

Omar Phillips

“No.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“So what capacity did he go there as?”

 

Omar Phillips

“Well, he was doing the transaction.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“So a consultant, by your definition?”

 

Omar Phillips

“I can’t say that, Senator; but that’s what he was doing.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“I am asking you for your evidence. In your perception, this man came before you; did you regard him as a consultant, doing business on behalf of someone else at Immigration?”

 

Omar Phillips

“The way I looked at it at the time, he was the minister.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Yeah? What ministerial function did he perform?”

 

Omar Phillips

“Obviously, it was not a ministerial function.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Right; what function did he perform?”

 

Omar Phillips

“To answer your question correctly, he was acting as the agent

Out: 2:06…for the person.”

 

And did he attempt to play off two of his senior co-workers, Gordon Wade, then in charge of Nationality, and his boss Maria Marin, then-deputy director, over the Won Hong Kim file?

 

Gordon Wade

Gordon Wade, Former Officer in Charge, Nationality/Immigration Department [File:  February 1st, 2017]

In: 0:31 “Files are brought to my office on a weekly basis for vetting; the files are accepted at the front counter, they are sent to the registry where they are prepared and put in file form, and on a weekly basis an amount is brought into my office for vetting.”

 

Aldo Salazar, Chair, Special Senate Select Committee [File:  February 1st, 2017]

“So Minister Penner came to you and asked whether this particular file was ready?”

 

Gordon Wade

“That’s right.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“And you would have checked on it – you checked the file?”

 

Gordon Wade

“Yes.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“And you noted what?”

 

Gordon Wade

“That the file was incomplete.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“Do you recall what was incomplete?”

 

Gordon Wade

“If I am not mistaken, I think it was the complete copy of the passport and I think a police record; they had applied but hadn’t gotten the actual police record yet, something to that effect. And I haven’t seen that file for the last four or five years – I couldn’t remember specifically what was missing at that time.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“But it was incomplete?”

 

Gordon Wade

“It was incomplete.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“And you told him it cannot be processed?”

 

Gordon Wade

“I told him I could not process the file until the other documents were presented which would have made the file complete.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“And that’s when he told you he was going to take it…”

 

Gordon Wade

“He was to take it up to the next level which is the Director.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“He never came back to you with that file?”

 

Gordon Wade

“Never came back to me with that file.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“Did the Director mention the file to you at any point?”

 

Gordon Wade

“No.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“So that’s the last you heard of Won Hong Kim?”

 

Gordon Wade

“When he informed me that he would be taking [it] up to the Director, that’s the last I saw and heard…

Out: 1:54 …of that file.”

 

The ex-Minister of State takes his turn in the spotlight to answer these and other questions on Wednesday. Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

Tune in to Wednesday’s newscast for all the highlights.

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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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