PLUS News continues to follow developments in the scandal surrounding now-former Minister of State in the Immigration Ministry Elvin Penner who was made to resign last Wednesday by Prime Minister Dean Barrow. More information has been revealed about the individual in whose name a passport was issued. He is Kim Won-Hong, a former advisor to SK Shipping Company which is a member of the SK Corporation, formerly managed by one Chey Tae-won, whose wife is the daughter of former South Korean President Roh Tae-woo. Chey Taewon was convicted in January of this year on embezzling charges in relation to his companies but has appealed the decision. A decision was due on September 13 in the Seoul High Court but the court chose instead to re-open oral arguments regarding a “change in arraignment,” specifically because Chey Taewon has accused Kim Won-Hong of failing to return billions in South Korean won given to him for private investments. Mr Kim was arrested in Taiwan in August and is being held for violation of immigration laws, but apparently was able to reach Belizean officials on a trip to Taiwan to arrange a passport to jump extradition to a country he has never even seen. Mr Kim would not even qualify for a visitor’s visa under Belize laws as he remains imprisoned, but he got a passport instead and the approval was personally signed by Elvin Penner and countersigned by one of his associates who remains unidentified. Others have also been fingered in the deal including the diplomat who conveyed the passport to Kim. Matters continue to unravel but substantive Minister Godwin Hulse continues to believe that the system is working, as he told KREM News via radio interview. Minister Hulse said the investigation into his junior Minister’s actions continue and he believes that the new regulations played a role in stopping the matter from continuing.
Meanwhile, on Monday, the Ministry of Immigration put out an official release stating “The Ministry is satisfied that there has been a serious breach of the regulations and rules governing the issuance of this passport and that officers did, whether through negligence or acquiescence, allow a fraud to be perpetrated on the system The Ministry is preparing files to be handed over to the Public Service Commission and has recommended the immediate suspension of three (3) officers pending the submission of the findings and the Commission’s decision.”