Retired Immigration Officer Recalls Instance of Attempted Bribery

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Updated: April 26, 2017

During her testimony, Therese Chavarria, stated that she has worked in every district as an immigration officer during her three decade career. She said that throughout her time as a career immigration officer, she experienced several occasions whereby persons attempted to bribe her. The committee was interested in one particular attempt of bribery mentioned in the auditor general’s report involving Chavarria and a five hundred dollar bribe. On page 80 of the passport report, the auditor general states quote, “Rina Chiu Hsiang Lo visited the home of the former OIC, Miss Therese Chavarria, twice, the first time along with her daughter and the second time along with her husband, Sam KamIun Lo who tried to convince her that the birth certificate was genuine and gave her five hundred dollars during the last visit to facilitate the processing of the Passport.” End of quote. According to Chavarria, she reported the matter to her bosses and submitted the money to the finance officer. Chavaria then left for vacation taking the passport application with her but according to the auditor general quote, “After her resumption to duty she found out that the application was approved for processing on the instruction of former Director of Immigration and Nationality, Miss Ruth Meighan. Miss Chavarria was told by the Director that she was instructed by Former Minister Carlos Perdomo to process the Passport”. End of quote.

Eamon Courtney

“What the auditor general is saying is that Ms.Chavaria was told by the director that she was instructed by former Minister Carlos Perdomo to process the passport. First of all do you recall Ms.Ruth Meighan telling you that?”

THERESE CHAVARRIA

“Yes she did mention that.”

Eamon Courtney

“And you do recall saying that to the Auditor General’s team?”

THERESE CHAVARRIA

“Yes.”

Eamon Courtney

“Did that cause you any concern? That the director is telling you that the Minister instructed that the passport be issued?”

THERESE CHAVARRIA

“Yes I was very much appalled by that.”

Eamon Courtney

“You were appalled why were you appalled by that?”

THERESE CHAVARRIA

“The Minister normally would not give such instruction.”

Eamon Courtney

“And it would be correct to say that in respect of this particular passport you had established that the person who was seeking the passport ought not to receive that passport?”

THERESE CHAVARRIA

“Yes.”

Eamon Courtney

“And that is why you took the papers home with you when you went on vacation.”

THERESE CHAVARRIA

“Yes sir.”

Eamon Courtney

“And is it your testimony that Ms.Rena came back in your absence, to use the word of Senator Lizarraga more accurately now, circumvent the system and got the passport issued to Mr.Ku.”

THERESE CHAVARRIA

“Yes.”

Eamon Courtney

“And it is the evidence that when you inquired to it the director said that Minister Perdomo instructed that it be issued.”

THERESE CHAVARRIA

“Yes sir.

Mark Lizarraga

“Why did you see it fit that you had to take home documents that really I don’t know if you should have? But obviously something bothered you, obviously you said to yourself.”

THERESE CHAVARRIA

“Because Ms.Reena is a person that is a pushy person and I thought she would come back.”

Mark Lizarraga, Senator: “She is persuasive.”.

Voice 1: Yes. “She visited my home two times for that very same passport and I thought it best I remove it from my office to ensure that it would not be completed.”

Mark Lizarraga

“Your fear being that if you left the documents in the office you thought somebody else would have been persuaded?”

THERESE CHAVARRIA

“Yes sir.”

Mark Lizarraga

“You did not trust the system or your fellow officers?”

THERESE CHAVARRIA

“Well it’s not that I don’t trust the officers but some of us are weak.”

The third witness to appear today was data entry clerk Omar Phillips. We will have his testimony and more of Chavarria’s in tomorrow’s newscast.