Carlos Perdomo’s appearance before the Senate proves PUP immigration hussle Print E-mail
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Written by The Guardian   
Thursday, 08 June 2017 00:00

Carlos Perdomo, the Cabinet Secretary, and a former Minister in charge of Immigration, went before the Senate Select Committee to testify as a witness. He went there to defend himself against allegations that he ordered the approval of a passport to an applicant who did not qualify for the document.

That applicant was Paul Ku, who was given a passport even after the department learned that he was applying with fraudulent documents. In the Auditor General’s report on passport, the audit team disclosed their investigations into the passport which was given to the applicant Paul Ku. In May of 2011, he was accompanied to the Belize City Passport office by a naturalized Belizean, Rina Chiu Hsiang Lo, a justice of the peace who was trying her best to get him a passport.

He submitted his application for a passport, along with a birth certificate, which identified him as Paul Ku. The immigration officers became suspicious when they realized that he couldn’t speak a word of English. That realization happened when they were capturing his biometrics for the passport. The officer in charge, Therese Chavarria, interrogated this man, and she began suspecting that he did not live in Belize, as he and Rina Chiu Hsiang Lo was claiming.

Therese Chavarria told the Senate in April that she put this particular application on hold to look into his story that he attended a primary school in Belize City. She said that she gave specific instructions to her subordinates that this application was not to have been processed and approved because an investigation into the particulars was still underway. She even took home Paul Ku’s application file to prevent it from being processed.

She told the Senate Committee that she went on vacation, and during that time, Rina Chiu Hsiang Lo visited her home twice and tried to convince her that the birth certificate for Paul Ku was genuine. Chavarria said that Hsiang Lo tried to bribe her with $500 to get her to process the application.

Therese Chavarria reported for work after her vacation days were done, and she found out that another officer from the department approved the passport after Rina Chiu Hsiang Lo managed to produce a second fraudulent birth certificate for this man who claimed to be “Paul Ku”. She said that she inquired into the case and she found out that the application was approved for processing by Ruth Meighan, the former Director of Immigration. She told the Senate that she asked Meighan about it, and Meighan reportedly told her that she was instructed by Former Minister Carlos Perdomo to process the passport.

So, that’s what Perdomo presented himself to take questions on, and when the Senate asked him directly if he ordered that this application be processed, he categorically denied that allegation.

Responding to the Senators, Perdomo said, “I did not give any directive, as the report says, to the Director of Immigration... When I was briefed about this situation, the scenario was already completed... I did not know anything about this case until Miss Chavarria came back from vacation. Apparently, according to reports, she knew a lot of things. She was supposedly bribed, but nobody knew of that. She went on vacation, took files at home, which is pretty irregular, but nobody knew anything of that until she came back... It is after everything, passport signed... that she makes a report after vacation... I knew nothing of it before the actual signing and so forth, but I did not - repeating - I did not give any instruction.”

Later on in the 2 hour Senate hearing, Perdomo was asked if he ever encountered any culture of corruption at the Department when he was the Minister in Charge. He said that he didn’t but that led to the general public hearing for themselves that the Immigration Department was dogged by corruption during the PUP’s administration. So, while the opposition wants to pretend that immigration hustling started happening under the Barrow administration, there is another clear piece of proof.

During their investigation, the Audit team uncovered a confidential memo which Former Immigration Director Jose Zetina sent to his then Minister of Home Affairs back on September 12, 2005.

That memo said, “In the Nationality and Residence Section corruption stems from facilitating and speeding up the process of applications once payment is made to certain individual civilians who run this section. These applications are then given priority by ensuring that they meet all the requirements with documentations in order and submitted for vetting ahead of others. In some cases delay tactics are used to pressure individual applicants to pay for the services… On selected applicants, approvals are intentionally delayed or applicants are told further checks or documentations are needed in order to influence payment for the services.”

Carlos Perdomo, the former Immigration Minister, told the Senate that he did not personally encounter any kind of activities which displayed this type of corruption. That was from the days of the Said Musa government, but it possibly did get the attention that Immigration is getting right now because the PUP’s were running so many different hustles that it was hard to keep track of each.

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 June 2017 16:53