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May 10, 2017

…And There Weren’t “Hundreds” of Approved Visas

Eamon Courtenay

Penner also contends that some visas which he recommended for approval were not approved. But why was it necessary to go through it, especially if it was not intended to positively influence the approval of the application? The former Minister of State admits he does not remember correcting anyone who asked for his assistance by recommendation that it was not intended to be a seal of approval, and after some prodding conceded that while he did not intend it that way, that was how Immigration officers often took it. He also contended that there was not ‘hundreds of times’ that he wrote recommendations for visa approval.

 

Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator

“Why would you not say to the person, “you have qualified; there is no need for me to do anything?”

 

Elvin Penner

Elvin Penner, Former Minister of State, Immigration and Nationality

“Like I said before, as the Minister of Immigration, I felt that there were certain expectations of me not only by the Immigration Department but also by the public, and I did whatever I did in my view, to best serve the public at large.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“And is it correct to say that you understood one of your duties or responsibilities to be to facilitate the processing of visa applications?”

 

Elvin Penner

“That was not one of my responsibilities.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“That was not one of your responsibilities – then tell me, what responsibility or duty it is you were doing, as a Minister of Immigration when you wrote, recommending persons for visas who had already qualified for visas? What duty were you performing?”

 

Elvin Penner

“I was simply responding to the requests of individuals that I knew very well, that they perhaps thought that a recommendation from myself as the Minister of Immigration would assist them in getting that visa, for whatever reason or the other, and therefore responded to their requests.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“So at the time you wrote these requests you were aware that the persons who were asking you were of the view, that with a recommendation from you it would influence the application?”

 

Elvin Penner

“I don’t know what their view was…”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“But you were the one who gave the evidence just now.”

 

Elvin Penner

“I said that is what I believe that they felt.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Right, so you are of the view that when they came to you, that they were under the impression that a recommendation form you would assist, that was what you felt?”

 

Elvin Penner

“Yes.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Did you correct them or leave them with that impression?”

 

Elvin Penner

“I don’t remember correcting them; like I said, I would just give them the recommendation that they asked me for.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“So it’s correct to say that you knowingly made these recommendations, when you believed that the persons who were asking you for your assistance were of the view that your recommendation would influence the outcome and you did not correct them?”

 

Elvin Penner

“I don’t know that for a fact, but that is my belief.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Why then were you making these completely ineffective recommendations, that did absolutely nothing; were not influential; were of no use – why did you, hundreds of times, do it?”

 

Elvin Penner

“Have you checked that there were indeed hundreds of times that those recommendations were made?”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Happily for you, and for me, I am the one who asks the questions and you answer. Why is it that you, hundreds of times, wrote ‘paperless recommendations’ – since they absolutely had no effect, why did you do that?”

 

Elvin Penner

“Well, I don’t think I’m obligated to answer that question if you’re referring to the ‘hundreds of times’ because I am sure that there was not hundreds of times that happened.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Mr. Penner, Mr. Penner…”

 

Elvin Penner

“You may want to rephrase that question and omit that ‘hundreds of times.’”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“You see, we will be here very long; because you obviously believe, from reading your statement, that you will control what happens here today…”

 

Elvin Penner

“No, sir.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Trust me, that’s not what’s going to happen; but let me help you – use one; why did you write one recommendation, two recommendations, any number you want that were totally of no use; why did you write them?”

 

Elvin Penner

“Because it was the request of individuals I knew, they made that request of me, and I gave it to them because…”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“You told them that it was valueless and useless?”

 

Elvin Penner

“I have never discussed that matter with them.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“So they came to you, seeking help; you knew that the paper you were going to write was of no value, but you did it?”

 

Elvin Penner

“It should not have influenced any officer or the Director to have granted a visa or not granted a visa.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“But? But?”

 

Elvin Penner

But what?”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“But it did, and that’s why you wrote it.”

 

Elvin Penner

“I don’t know that for a fact.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“You believe that?”

 

Elvin Penner

“That would have totally been up to the Director or the officers.”

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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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