Senior Immigration Officer disputes comments in Auditor General’s report

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Updated: February 1, 2017

Senior Immigration Officer, Gordon Wade, was subjected to tough questions today by the Senate Special Select Committee. Wade, who was the head of the nationality department, was one of the immigration officers questioned by police in regards to the Wong Hong Kim passport investigation. Today he was questioned for more than two hours. During the final portion of the inquiry, Wade was reminded of what he told the Auditor General in an interview. According to the Auditor General, Wade said that a Minister can approve a Belizean Nationality with one letter and have all other required documents waived. This, according to Wade, was not what he said.

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“ Mr. Wade, you were interviewed on more than one occasion by the audit team, is that correct?”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“ Yes Sir.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“And you have reviewed the Nationality volume of this report? There’s three volumes. Have you went through.”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“I’ve went through a lot of it.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“Anything in there that you are quoted as saying is innacurate?”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“I would have to go through it.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“Do you recall reading anything?”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“I saw one specific thing that was mentioned that wasn’t clear to me. I would have to go through it because as I met them I would have to highlight them so I would have to go through it but there was one instance where I saw something that there was an interview with me.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“Alright, well let me take you to the one that interests me. Can you look at page 200. You’re at 200?”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“Yes Sir.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“Paragraph 89 point 4 and there is a quotation from you and I would like you to read it into the record and tell me whether or not that is accurate.”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“Coincidentally that is the specific section that to me…”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“Well, it’s good. I will allow you to read it into the record and then you can clarify.”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“You want me to start from In our March 14 interview or just the quotation.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“ The quotation…”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“Quotation. “ A minister can approve Belize Nationality with one letter and all other requirements are waived including fees, security clearance, civic test, everything can be waived. The law has the requirements but that does not matter because the law also states that a minister has the final say. Applicants do not even have to be in the country for the five years. As long as a Justice of the Peace or a Minister writes a letter stating that they knew the applicant for over five years and they are of good behavior they are approved.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“ Next page…”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“ That process takes the place of all requirements. This happens especially around election time when Ministers and Area Representatives submit lists of applicants who should get nationality. Those persons do not have to even show their passport to prove that they came into the country with visas.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“Ok what about this you want to correct.”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“ The whole of it.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“You didn’t say this?”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“I don’t recall saying that.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“ You don’t recall saying this at all?”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“Nothing like that.”

 

Members of the committee attempted to clarify what exactly Wade’s answer was.

 

Senator Aldo Salazar

“You’re saying that for the Auditor General to have put this in the report is inaccurate.

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“I don’t recall making that statement any at all.”

Senator Aldo Salazar

“So you never said this to Ms.Faber or anyone on the audit team.”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“No.”

Senator Elena Smith

“You are saying that you do not recall, you saying this any at all. Is it that you do not recall or is it that you would not have said what is here or you would not have said portions of what is here.

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“Probably this is something that we talked about but I don’t recall doing any interview where this was stated to the audit team.”

Senator Elena Smith

“So it might not have been said in an interview but probably in a discussion that you all were having?

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“Probably it was something in that general, but I don’t recall mentioning or saying anything like this to any member of the audit team.”

Senator Aldo Salazar

“So this is false?”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“Yes sir.”

Senator Elena Smith

“Mr. Wade I am still not clear. You are saying that you cannot recall saying this in an interview but you may have said it in a discussion.

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“No because just look at the opening statement. Myself I don’t know what it means that a Minister can approve nationality with one letter, what does that mean. If I would have said something like that what did that mean?”

Senator Aldo Salazar

“I think it is very easy to address this; did you say this or not?

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“ No.”

 

Still on the matter, was Senator Elena Smith, who made the point that Wade was disputing that he did not say the quoted text on the record but during a discussion.

 

Senator Elena Smith

“You have caused me to have to ask the question because you are saying to us that you may not have said it in an interview but you may have said some of it during discussions.

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“I said that we spoke about this in discussions, however we didn’t have any interview with respect to anything that is quoted here that I directly said that is what I said.”

Senator Elena Smith

“So you are telling me that not in that interview but in discussions you may have said some of these things.”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“ We probably had discussed things like this but if me and you have something to discuss you will put it in a report.”

Senator Elena Smith

“No but the point Mr.Wade is that you may have said it at another time but not during the interview.

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“I didn’t say that.”

Senator Elena Smith

“So what did you just tell me.

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“I told you I didn’t say this, I told you probably in talking to the audit team unofficially this kind of topic came up but at no time did I make a statement like this to them. “

Senator Elena Smith

“So talking and discussion are the same right, the words come out.

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“Right.”

Senator Elena Smith

“So whether it was said in discussion it was said, the point is that some of this may have been said.”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“Well then the report could have said “in a discussion with Mr. Wade this was discussed.” this is saying in an interview I said this and I am saying I did not.

Senator Elena Smith

“So your dispute is saying….

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“ I am not disputing anything I am saying that I did not say this in an interview with them.

Senator Elena Smith

“Mr. Wade your dispute is interview versus discussion, it is inaccurate because here it says in an interview and you never said it in an interview you are saying that you may have said some of these words in a discussion or in discussions with them. So putting it as interview here is inaccurate you are saying but not that the discussion did not occur.”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officver

“Lots of discussions occurred.”

Wade was accompanied by his attorney, Andrew Bennett.  Wade was advise to read over the Auditor General reports because he will be called back again for a more in-depth interrogation.