Whistleblower fears for her life

vlcsnap-2013-11-13-07h08m47s0Chatter on the alleged visa hustle ring, supposedly involving Ministers of Government, seemed to have been settling in the past few days, as numerous officials came out denying having knowledge of or participating in the scheme. But merely denying these allegations will not suffice, particularly, in the circumstance of Junior Minister in the Ministry of Works and vlcsnap-2013-11-13-07h08m37s244Transport, Edmund Castro. That is because the person placing Minister Castro in the visa quota hustle maintains that she has indisputable evidence to back up her claims. The woman, Alverine Burgess, who first appeared on terms of anonymity on News5 in October, decided to come forth once again, unmasked. She was guest on the Dickie Bradley Special last night on Channel 5. By now we all we have heard her testimony of the transpired events, so tonight we take a slightly different angle. After her allegations were made public, the United States Embassy acquired a significant interest in the reports and as a consequent, invited Ms Burgess to their offices in Belmopan to take a witness statement from the accuser. Alverine Burgess says it was an experience she won’t soon forget.
vlcsnap-2013-11-13-07h21m57s32Mrs. Alverine Burgess, Whistleblower
“They called me to go to the embassy in Belmopan. It was a Friday and I’ll never forget that day. That was a torment to my soul. They investigated for three hours. I literally left in tears.”

Mr. Dickie Bradley
“One person or more than one interrogated you?”

Mrs. Alverine Burgess
“More than one…three people…”

Mr. Dickie Bradley
“If you can…tell us what happened. They questioned you?”

Mrs. Alverine Burgess
“They asked me questions about visas and passports. They showed me booklets with pictures…if I could identify some of these people.”

vlcsnap-2013-11-13-07h24m53s3Mr. Dickie Bradley
“People who would get visas or passports?”

 

 

 

Mr. Alverine Burgess
“I don’t know if these people were in a visa ring or whatever…but…”

Mr. Dickie Bradley
“But I mean the questions were if you did visas for any of these people or if you know that they got visas?”

Mrs. Alverine Burgess
“If I did visas for them or if I know them….and I told them no!”
It was after being asked numerous questions and denying having come in contact with those persons, that Embassy personnel pulled out a recording of Mrs. Alverine Burgess and Edmund Castro, speaking on their alleged dealings.
Mrs. Alverine Burgess
“One of the investigators mentioned – “so are you really denying?” I said yes. He said – “Suppose we have proof?” I said you can’t have any proof because there’s no proof. He said okay, we’ll give you proof. And that’s when he pulled out a computer and put it in front of him and when he put on that computer…big conversation. There was a conversation with me and Minister Castro and another person. My voice, Minister Castro’s voice…I was very, very scared.”

Mr. Dickie Bradley: “You heard what is a recording of you and the minister talking?”

Mrs. Alverine Burgess: “Yes, yes, yes”.

Mr. Dickie Bradley: “Business about visas?”

Mrs. Alverine Burgess: “Yes”.

Mr. Dickie Bradley: “You heard what is a conversation take with you and one of the people how the visas did?”

Mrs. Alverine Burgess: “Yes”.

Mr. Dickie Bradley: “Are you confronted with that?”

Mrs. Alverine Burgess: “Yes”.

Mr. Dickie Bradley: “They asked you the whole procedure?’’

Mrs. Alverine Burgess: “Everything like I mentioned to you, I had to give them from the bottom person to the Minister’s name, Minister Castro…I had to”.
She was then required to make a written statement as well. Ms Burgess says her personal life has changed drastically since last month October, she affirms that she has been receiving threats and even bribes to shut up.
Mrs. Alverine Burgess: “I have gotten the calls where the numbers are restricted, telling me to shut up, and I have gotten the calls where someone’s to pay”…
Mr. Dickie Bradley: “Pay you money?’’
Mrs. Alverine Burgess: “Pay me money”…
Mr. Dickie Bradley: “Offered to pay you?”
Mrs. Alverine Burgess: “Offered to pay me”…
Mr. Dickie Bradley: “To do what?”
Mrs. Alverine Burgess: …”that could I surrender my documents that I have…because I have some documents”.
Mr. Dickie Bradley: “So, have you been getting calls…deh no threaten you?
Mrs. Alverine Burgess: “Yes”.
Mr. Dickie Bradley: “…deh no threaten you, deh no tell you ting a’h happen to you… and then deh awfah you money, big money?”
Mrs. Alverine Burgess: “Yes, but for the public to know that the documents that I have, I don’t keep them at home”.

She says though that Mr. Castro has not contacted her, nor anyone claiming to be acting on his behalf. And in the face of much adversity, Mrs. Alverine Burgess maintains that she is telling the truth.
Mrs. Alverine Burgess: “Well, I am a Belizean by birth and I believe in God nd I know, and Minister Castro knows that I had to pay him for every single visa application form that I handed him in his hand. I had to pay him $2,000 for each one…and he knows that, and I know that…and I am not making a false allegation; I am telling the truth and the sole truth”.
vlcsnap-2013-11-13-07h24m11s98As we have previously reported, Hon. Edmund Castro, through the legal representation of Barrow and Williams Law Firm, presented a letter to Mrs. Alverine Burgess, demanding that she retract allegations made, or in default, the Minister will file suit. Plus News has received a copy of that letter, which highlights those remarks that Mr. Castro says are defamatory to him. The letter makes reference to the News 5 article dated on October 23rd and titled ” Insider speaks of the thousands of dollars paid, the process and how it all started.” And while the transcribed version of the news story takes up the body of the letter, it ends with the following statement by Mr Castro’s legal team “In their natural and ordinary meaning, the words mean and were understood to mean that Minister Edmund Castro is a corrupt person involved in a corrupt visa procurement scheme for money. Your words were calculated to disparage our client in his office as Minister of State in the Ministry of Works and Transport.” With Mrs. Burgess showing no indication of retracting her story, we may just see this one play out in court.

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