Former Ambassador Nisbeth testifies at Senate hearings

There were two witnesses today, the first was Former Ambasador to Taiwan Cherie Nisbeth. She was the person who in essence raised the red flag regarding Former Deputy Mayor Eric Chang’s involvement with Citizen Kim. She had sent an email to the CEO Alexis Rosado in Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlighting a telephone conversation she had with a  panicked Chang who wanted her to facilitate nationality applications for Asian friends in urgent need. Chairman Salazar started by quoting a portion of the email.

Hon. Aldo Salazar, Chairman Senate Select Committee: “On Friday night I got an urgent call from Eric Chang, Deputy Mayor of Belize who is in Taiwan. He was here for an Apec Summit invited vlcsnap-2017-06-02-12h06m41s947by Taiwan and stayed on to be with his family in Taiwan. Eric called me in a panic asking me if I could urgently issue a VISA to two South Korean Nationals who NEED, in caps, to go to Belize the next day. I asked Eric what was the emergency as I needed to know what was the emergency before I could issue a VISA; as well as I needed all documentation filled out and approved. Eric could not give me the reason for the emergency and told me that he may have had to call a “Minister”, in quotes, to issue VISAs upon arrival. I told him if he feels he can do that, then perhaps they would issue a VISA upon arrival but before I show an urgent VISA to anyone, I need a reason and all documents to be completed. He told me Okay thank you.” Do you recall sending this email?

 Cherie Nisbet, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: Yes

Hon. Aldo Salazar, Chairman Senate Select Committee: The email, the caption is accurate? That is the email you sent?

Cherie Nisbet, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: Yes

Hon. Aldo Salazar, Chairman Senate Select Committee: Why did you send this email to CEO Rosado?vlcsnap-2017-06-02-13h50m39s784

Cherie Nisbet, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: Because as the Ambassador of Belize to Taiwan, I, from time to time need to report what’s happening at the Embassy to the Chief Executive Officer.

Hon. Aldo Salazar, Chairman Senate Select Committee: I gather for the Auditor General’s Report that subsequent to this phone call and sending this email, you became very concerned about the fact that Mister Chang wanted to get VISAs for these particular individuals.

Cherie Nisbet, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: I was concerned but I was more interested in getting the documentation.

Hon. Aldo Salazar, Chairman Senate Select Committee: Was the documentation provided to you?

Cherie Nisbet, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: No.

Hon. Aldo Salazar, Chairman Senate Select Committee: At paragraph 6.43, it said that you stated, ” Eric called to tell me that his friends are still interested in getting their VISA for Belize and that perhaps he will come to the Embassy today to bring the document. I then asked him if he ever got to visit the Belizean in detention and he told me no. That is a long story and he has to explain to me when he sees me, I told him okay.”

Nisbeth said that after the Taiwanese authorities informed her of the person inthier custody and advised against Mr Chang’s vist,a Honduran diplomat brought Citizen Kim’s documents to her wanting her to verify their authenticity.vlcsnap-2017-06-02-14h08m45s089

Hon. Aldo Salazar, Chairman Senate Select Committee: Did the Taiwanese authorities have something upon which to form the basis that he had Belizean nationality? What is it that they had?

Cherie Nisbet, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: I was given his passport and naturalization certificate.

Hon. Aldo Salazar, Chairman Senate Select Committee: You were given the original passport and certificate?

Cherie Nisbet, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: Yes.

Hon. Aldo Salazar, Chairman Senate Select Committee: But apart from that you didn’t inquire as to why this Belizean was being detained in Taiwan?

Cherie Nisbet, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: No.

Hon. Aldo Salazar, Chairman Senate Select Committee: Who did you receive the passport and nationality certificate from?

Cherie Nisbit, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: From the Charge d’ affairs of the Embassy of Honduras in Taiwan.

Hon. Aldo Salazar, Chairman Senate Select Committee: This is his name?vlcsnap-2017-06-02-13h50m39s784

Cherie Nisbit, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: Alejandro Young.

Hon. Aldo Salazar, Chairman Senate Select Committee: Do you know how he came into possession of the passport and certificate?

Cherie Nisbit, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: No.

Hon. Aldo Salazar, Chairman Senate Select Committee: Did he ask that a letter be written to validate the passport and nationality certificate to the Taiwanese authorities?

Cherie Nisbit, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: Yes.

Hon. Aldo Salazar, Chairman Senate Select Committee: What was your response?

Cherie Nisbit, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: I need the reason for that question.

Hon. Aldo Salazar, Chairman Senate Select Committee: Didn’t you find it strange that Mr. Alejandro Young in charge d’affaires for another country was involved in a matter involving a Belizean national who had gotten into trouble with the South Korean officials in Taiwan?

Cherie Nisbit, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: Yes.

Hon. Aldo Salazar, Chairman Senate Select Committee: Did you do anything as a result of that hunch or that idea that something was wrong with that situation?

Cherie Nisbit, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: No.

Nisbeth says her gut feeling was not to trust the Honduran diplomat. The passport was left in her possession and she kept it for two years until in 2015 when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested it. She said she handed it over personally to Minister Godwin Hulse when he visited Taiwan.  Interestingly, Nisbeth didn’t really offer any information beyond what had already been highlighted in the auditor general’s report and in the media. She appeared to have several memory lapses. Here is how that went.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: In your email to the CEO, you mentioned that Eric told you that he may have to call a minister. Was this normal?

Cherie Nisbit, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: Was what normal?vlcsnap-2017-06-02-14h15m28s153

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: The calling of ministers for the issuance of VISAs.

Cherie Nisbit, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: I don’t know.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: You don’t know, you never heard of it before?

Cherie Nisbit, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: No.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Now. When he called you speaking about the person in detention, or saying that he was in a detention centre, and wanting for you to acknowledge his person if you received a call from the authorities. You said that he never mentioned that the person was a Belizean, was that right?

Cherie Nisbit, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: No he never mentioned.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Did you ask him at anytime what he was doing at a detention centre and why he wanted this sort of confirmation from you?

Cherie Nisbit, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: I don’t remember.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: In any of these emails and I make reference because I saw you copied on some emails about some lost passports and some other cases, correct? In any of these emails, did anyone advise you that we were having issues in the Immigration and Nationality Department and that documents may not have been issued properly?

Cherie Nisbit, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: I don’t remember.vlcsnap-2017-06-02-14h08m45s089

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: You never recalled if they said be on the lookout for stolen passports

Cherie Nisbit, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: I don’t remember.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: You don’t recall if you ever received an email requesting that you be extra careful before validating a passport?

Cherie Nisbit, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: I don’t remember.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Do you recall any instructions about how to deal with passports for renewals?

Cherie Nisbit, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: I don’t remember.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Do you recall any emails, any instructions, about how to deal with passports issued in any specific period of time?

Cherie Nisbit, Former Ambassador of Taiwan: I don’t remember.

Nisbeth was also asked why she wrote CEO Rosado, if it was to alert him of something she felt was wrong and her response to that was also , “I don’t remember,”

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