Carlos Perdomo’s second day at Senate Inquiry

Appearing for the second time in front of the Senate Committee was former Immigration Minister and present Cabinet Secretary Carlos Perdomo. Perdomo was Minister of  Immigration and National Security for a period of the time that was under review by the Auditor General’s report. His name was mentioned in the auditor General’s report in connection to  case with a  Paul Ku, who was granted a passport despite being vague in his interview about where he was born or went to school in Belize. Earlier in the inquiries, Immigration officer Therese Chavarria testified that despite her efforts to investigate Ku, the passport was issued at the reported behest of Minister Perdomo through Immigration Director Ruth Meighan. Ku’s sponsor, one Rina Chiu Hsiang Lo, is reportedly from Perdomo’s constituency in Caribbean Shores. Ms Chavarria alleged that Lo tried to bribe her by leaving five hundred dollars on her desk. Perdomo insisted he did not intervene in Ku’s application in any way. He told the committee that  when he signed nationality certificates, he looked only for two signatures before affixing his own.  He claimed that he was unaware of a corruption of culture at the Immigration department during his tenure there. Today, Senator Lizarraga took on Perdomo over his self proclaimed ignorance of corruption in his ministry.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Minister this is my concern that you were responsible for this department, all of these things were happening and you appear not to know anything about anything.

Carlos Perdomo, Former Minister at Immigration Department: Well it appears so.vlcsnap-2017-06-15-10h45m03s600

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Except in joke because you are saying in jest.

Carlos Perdomo, Former Minister at Immigration Department: I can only tell you the truth from my point of view. But sometimes when people share the truth here, like you are doing right now, you then proceed to lash people. I am telling you the truth so now you will bring up a lot of things about this and that and so forth. I’m telling you I don’t,-  didn’t know; so why continue on it? I said I didn’t know.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Minister I’m not trying to lash you. I’m trying to see how policy is formulated in this country, and where responsibility begins and where responsibility ends. I think if we’re going to move ahead as a country, we have to hold not only people responsible but we need to know what systems are in place to fix the things that are wrong. So we need to understand how things got wrong and how those people that were in charge reacted to certain situations. You agree? If we want to fix things?

Carlos Perdomo, Former Minister at Immigration Department: Yes but while I was at Immigration the reports says there were irregularities, I did not know about them. This study was not initiated until after I was not minister.

According to the Auditor Generals’ report, several ministers visited the Immigration department while Perdomo was minister there. Those ministers allegedly handled files and pushed through certain applications. Perdomo says he was unaware of this as well but for his part, he personally did not handle any files.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Under what conditions can you justify another minister coming into your ministry asking for the working files of a particular national?vlcsnap-2017-06-15-10h52m19s287

Carlos Perdomo, Former Minister at Immigration Department: If he asks for a file, that wouldn’t  be correct, but if he goes for help, that is not a bad thing.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Thank you. I’m glad you said that. This list minister –

Carlos Perdomo, Former Minister at Immigration Department: But I have no knowledge of anybody asking for a file.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Well, let me continue, this list clearly shows and states where it was minuted by officers, and I don’t know which officer because it does not say, and Appendix F is a very long Appendix where for example, Honourable Edmund Castro was in possession of files or had requested or intervened in the Nationality Process?

Carlos Perdomo, Former Minister at Immigration Department: I had no knowledge of that so you would have to ask –

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: We will. I’m sure we will. But, the list is long, but here Minister you said earlier that you never requested such files.

Carlos Perdomo, Former Minister at Immigration Department: That’s right.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: That’s what you said. Do you call intervening in the process for one Xui Ming Xhang, on 10th of May 2011? Because it’s minuted on the sheet in the Nationality File, ‘Honourable Carlos Perdomo.’ There was another one, Lee Ying Long, September 7th 2011; again on the minute sheet Nationality File. It goes on. There’s another one, actually there’s a whole list of them. One Xiu Ming Xheng, one Nee Wen Lee, one Ting Chung Lee, one Wen See Lou, one Chung Xe Wu, one Natalia Parker.

Carlos Perdomo, Former Minister at Immigration Department: I cannot recall individuals and last week I said how I would request some kind of intervention as you call it. I say interceding, to help them to see that the files are completed and so forth. I can only answer for myself like I did last week so I repeating what I said last week.vlcsnap-2017-06-12-11h15m28s010

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: So in these cases minister why would you have interceded-

 Carlos Perdomo, Former Minister at Immigration Department: Probably somebody went to my office, I would write down the BNA number like I said last week, so we’re going over last week’s territory again. That is what I would do so if my name is there, that is how it was done.

Last week Perdomo had made a statement where he said that “I wasn’t aware that there was a culture of corruption; but in everyday talk with friends and so, you hear about Customs, you hear about Immigration, you hear about Police so that is how you hear. I wasn’t aware there was a culture within the Department; but you hear jokes like this one got big house and so but I did not know there was an operative type of thing.” Senator Lizarraga took issue with that statement made last week and he and Perdomo had a back and forth over it.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: You said you and your friends spoke and joked about it

Carlos Perdomo, Former Minister at Immigration Department: You keep coming back to this joke?

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Yes because I don’t think it’s funny.

Carlos Perdomo, Former Minister at Immigration Department: Which is not the way I said it to you, but you keep repeating it like if I am some irresponsible type of person. I am telling you that with friends. I think you do the same thing when you are with friends. It’s not a joke like you try to put it. It kind of shows your bias sometimes, that’s all I have to say. But it’s not a joke like you were suggesting senator.

Senator Lizarraga expressed disappointment in Perdomo’s confession of lack of knowledge of the corruption and lack of solutions.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Mr. Perdomo if those who were responsible according to the constitution and according to the regulations if those that were responsible did not identify it and did not seek to correct it then one has to question whether implicitly or explicitly such actions was being condoned and until we can have answers then there are a lot of questions that remain. These reports never come out of the thin air, they are based on facts and findings and it’s disappointing at least to me that it took a report like this to correct the atrocities that were being committed in a department which you once were in charge of and it’s concerning to me that you claim to not have known anything about it. I have no further questions for you Mr. Perdomo.

 

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