Auditor General Updates on Immigration Investigation

vlcsnap-2014-01-08-19h42m00s123vlcsnap-2014-01-08-19h35m32s88This afternoon, Auditor General Dorothy Bradley met with the press at her office on North Front Street.  The purpose was to give a general overview of how audits are carried out by the Audit Department and a brief synopsis of the current investigation at the Immigration and Nationality Department which was started in the wake of the sacking of Cayo Northeast area rep and Minister of State Elvin Penner in September of 2013.

It was not a press conference; there were no on-camera interviews, but what we learned is that the Department is carefully taking its time to pore over the thousands of files handed over by the Immigration Department dating back some two years.

Belize police logoIt wants the investigation and the Department seen as impartial and having no axe to grind, especially when compared with the spectacular let-downs of announced investigations by the Police Department, Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), and the Ministry itself, none of which have matched their scope.

According to Bradley, the audit seeks to find out whether the Department complied with its guidelines and regulations and the law in its issuing of passports, visas and permanent residency in the last two years in every aspect, from file-keeping to recommendations by Ministers.

immigration visaHowever, it is limited to looking at what the Department is provided and what it gathers from other sources, and the Auditor General refused to comment on reports of “clean-up” of the Department’s files, particularly ones that damn senior officials.

Files from January to September of 2013 have been reviewed in their entirety and those for 2012 are currently being reviewed.  No definite timeline has been set for a final report, as the Audit Department wants to conduct interviews with many interested individuals, including certain members of the press. It also plans some cooperation with the FIU for financial aspects of the investigation.

The Auditor General would not discuss what has been found so far but pronounced herself satisfied with the progress of the investigation and also that it has not been tampered with by outside influences. The current investigation, which was not invited by the Government, came after much planning and review internally and may be extended depending on the vlcsnap-2014-01-08-19h36m20s52results obtained.

As for the status of the other investigations, the key people – Maria Marin, Director of Immigration and Nationality; Ministry CEO Candelaria Saldivar-Morter and Police Commissioner Allen Whylie are not available, and Marilyn Williams, Director of the FIU, has left her post to go into private practice and no one else in the office was available.

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