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May 10, 2017

Penner Says His Recommendations Weren’t Meant to be Taken Seriously…

Back to the Senate Inquiry, which concluded just before four p.m. today…The issue of ministerial recommendations for visas in particular, especially to Asian nationals, has been a major thorn in the side of the Barrow administration. News Five has seen and obtained documents showing hundreds of such recommendations by multiple Ministers. Former Minister of State for Immigration and Nationality Elvin Penner was accused of making many such recommendations, often no more than a simple note to his juniors at the Department. Asked to account for his reasoning behind such recommendations, he told the Senate panel that he felt it was a needed service to the public; particularly those friends who asked it of him – but that despite claims to the contrary, officer were under no obligation to follow his recommendations.

 

Elvin Penner

Elvin Penner, Former Minister of State, Immigration and Nationality

“I didn’t see it in any way unfit for me to make such recommendations, and in all of my recommendations that I can recall, the recommendation letter would state at the end specifically that the visas are requested, but should only be granted if all the requirements of that application are met.”

 

Aldo Salazar, Chair, Senate Special Select Committee

“When there was a recommendation by you for a visa, would this precipitate the delivery of that visa quicker than the normal course?”

 

Elvin Penner

“Not at all.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“Did you receive any personal benefit from making the recommendations?”

 

Elvin Penner

“Not at all.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“Do you feel there was any pressure brought to bear on Immigration officers to issue visas for those persons who you recommended?”

 

Elvin Penner

“It certainly shouldn’t have been on the Immigration officers, because like I said, the request was always directed at the Director of Immigration, and as career public officers, they all know their responsibilities; and like I said, I have never asked for any special privilege to be granted to any one of these applicants, so I don’t see why they should have felt pressured; as long as they did their job, they did it correctly to the best of their ability – they shouldn’t have felt pressure and wouldn’t have been in no danger of any repercussions if they would not do what is asked of them, if what is asked of them to do would in any way be improper.”

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