Senate Inquiry Continues with Questions at Immigration Director

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Updated: January 11, 2017

The Senate Special Select Committee continued its probing into the findings of the auditor general special report on the Immigration and Nationality Department for the period 2011- 2013.Former acting Director of Immigration Maria Marin was questioned for the second time. Marin had been the acting Director of Immigration from February 2013 to April 2016 and it was during her tenure that the Elvin Penner scandal broke. At the core of the scandal was a nationality certificate with the name Wong Hong Kim on it. At the time of the application, Wong Hong Kim was sitting in jail awaiting extradition to South Korea and he believed that a fake Belizean passport would allow him to avoid extradition. Back in September 2013, it was reported that Penner made it his personal responsibility to have the Wong Hong Kim application approved.

ALDO SALAZAR

“This is being said about you by Mr.Gordon Wade that Minister Penner, this is in relation to the Wong Hong Kim issue and at this paragraph a comment is made that Minister Penner brought in the application without original documentation for Wong Hong Kim. Mr.Wade was being interviewed here and he said that he would take the Wong Hong Kim file to you as Director. Did you assist Minister Penner in processing the Wong Hong Kim application?”

MARIA MARIN

“No. No, in fact if I could enlighten; as I have maintained the records will show that I was on vacation leave from the 6th of September to the 11th of September, 2013 and from the report that I did I was able to ascertain that Minister was given that file on the 9th of September. Minister never came to me with that file.”

ALDO SALAZAR

“This is minister Penner?”

MARIA MARIN

“Minister Penner.”

ALDO SALAZAR

“What is suggested by this report is that he took charge of this application himself so that he submitted documents to immigration officers, waas this a practice of his ?”

MARIA MARIN

“I don’t know. I don’t know.”

ALDO SALAZAR

“Perhaps practice is, perhaps you wouldn’t know that it was a practice are you aware that Minister Penner would personally be involved with the submission of applications for nationality.”

MARIA MARIN

“Up until during my research for the Wong Hong Kim report no.”

ALDO SALAZAR

“Can you tell me who approves nationality certificates?”

MARIA MARIN

“The Minister for everything except nationality by descent.”

ALDO SALAZAR

“Who approves nationality by descent?”

MARIA MARIN

“The Director.”

In her report, the Auditor General states that Marin knew that ministers were constantly submitting incomplete applications with the promise they would later provide the missing paperwork. While Marine conceded that she knew this was happening, she did not support the idea.

 

SENATE SELECT 2

IN

OUT

Marin was accompanied by her attorney, Darrell Bradley. Only one member of the Senate Select Committee was absent and that was PUP Senator Eamon Courtenay who we understand is out of the country dealing with legal matters.