Zero Tolerance! Investigation Continues into Passport Scandal Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 26 September 2013 00:00

Kim Won Hong The Ministry of Labour, Local Government, Rural Development, NEMO and Immigration is investigating the issuance of a Belize Passport to South Korean, Kim Won Hong. Won Hong is detained in Taiwan and wanted in South Korea for embezzling millions of dollars. It was brought to Prime Minister Barrow’s attention on Tuesday, September 17th, that a Belize Passport was issued to Won Hong on September 9th. However, he was in a Taiwan Prison at the time and had been there since August. There is also no information to prove that Wong Hong had ever been to Belize.

Prime Minister Barrow acted promptly in investigating the allegations. That investigation led to a meeting with the Minister of State in the Immigration Ministry, Hon. Elvin Penner, on Thursday, September 18th. At that meeting, Prime Minister Barrow required him to resign because he “did not discharge his responsibilities with either the due judgment and balance, or the scrupulous regard for appearances, which the Prime Minister demands of all his Ministers”. Penner then tendered his immediate resignation. Prime Minister Barrow then ordered a thorough investigation into the incident.

Since the commencement of that investigation, three public officers attached to the Immigration Department have been suspended. On Monday, September 23rd, the Ministry recommended that the Public Service Commission approve the immediate suspension of two data entry clerks and the head of the passport division since it was “satisfied that there has been a serious breach of the regulations and rules governing the issuance of the passport in question and that officers did, whether through negligence or acquiescence, allow a fraud to be perpetrated on the system”.

The investigation into the issuance of a Belize Passport to Kim Won Hong continues.