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Nov 16, 2017

Roger Tien’s ‘Special Access’ at Immigration Dept.

Roger Tien – he was directly invited to Belize by Minister of Economic Development Erwin Contreras on the basis of making investments here. And Immigration Minister Godwin Hulse agreed to help after meeting Tien along with senior staff. He directed then-Acting Director of Immigration Maria Marin, in November of 2012, to peruse any applications by Tien for visas for visitors from Mainland China and facilitate if all is in order. But as it turned out, all was not in order; the Auditor General flagged the various visa applicants because their names then showed up on nationality applications and documents that they didn’t qualify for. So how was this different from other ministerial “instructions?” Hulse insisted that it was because he had legitimate authority to do so.

 

Godwin Hulse

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Immigration and Nationality

“It’s a general statement to her to say that: OK, look at what they want to do and carry on. It was no specific instructions to help A, B, C, D, because I didn’t know who A, B, C, D is and I would not care. And so that is the genesis of that. I do note in the report that it shows up on the applications of other people and I don’t know how that managed to happen, because that was not the intention at all. So, persons who grabbed a hold of this and used that erroneously also should be called to task because this is what would happen normally with any minister sitting in any group with anybody who comes and says: look, I need visas; you are bringing a group of businessmen. That was the concept behind this piece of notification written there.”

 

Elena Smith, Senator for Trade Union and Civil Society

“As you said earlier, the said note that you sent to Ms. Marin was used by other persons. “

 

Eamon Courtenay

Godwin Hulse

“Yes, unfortunately.”

 

Elena Smith

“I suppose that they felt that because it was signed by yourself that it would probably assist them in getting what they wanted.”

 

Godwin Hulse

“You know how that goes. Unfortunately, unfortunately. But it never should have been, because it was never intended that way and it was given to Miss Marin directly in the presence of everybody.”

 

Elena Smith

“Would you agree, Minister, that this could be interpreted as maybe you knew who this person was and you were trying to…”

 

Godwin Hulse

“I don’t think it could be interpreted like that at all. Mr. Roger Tien was fine with Belize. I don’t think Tien was the problem; I think it was the people who he brought or who he was going to bring, etcetera. At the time I don’t think Tien was the problem.”

 

Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator

“It goes back to the impression that is created, that with a minister’s letter things will happen. Because in your meeting, Miss Marin was there; C.E.O. was there; there would have been no need for you to write and say that this man was applying. So, it gives the impression that this letter can be used. And in fact, people improperly used it. Do you see the problem with something like this?”

 

Godwin Hulse

“No, none at all, Senator; I don’t see how that could be construed. Now, with respect to the Minister of Immigration, myself as the Minister of Immigration, I have authority to do that. No other minister has that. I say to my staff, who is there, we are sitting in this meeting, here is this gentleman who is saying I want to bring some investors, everybody is there. That’s why they’re there, to say we’ll look, they will be applying, deal with it and do what has to be done. That is a standard order that would come from any minister to his staff.”

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