Immigration Clerk Says Minister Penner Was Passport Agent

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Updated: April 27, 2017

The last witness to appear before the Special Senate Select Committee yesterday was former data entry clerk at the immigration department, Omar Phillips. Phillips was one of the three employees suspended for their alleged role in the Wong Hong Kim passport fiasco. Phillips worked at the front desk and he received the Won Hong Kim passport application in 2013 from former Minister of State Elvin Penner.

 

ALDO SALAZAR

“Do you recall receiving this passport application?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“Yes.”

ALDO SALAZAR

“Who did you receive it from?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“Minister Penner.”

ALDO SALAZAR

“Did he bring only this one to you? Did he say anything to you?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“I can’t recall having any conversation but normally they would just present the application and if they would get it expedited then they would either talk to the supervisor or the counter supervisor.”

ALDO SALAZAR

“Did you see the person who he was with? The applicant?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“Yes.”

ALDO SALAZAR

“So the applicant was there? How was he dressed? Do you recall?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“I don’t recall exactly what he had on, he had on a suit but I don’t recall the exact suit or to describe it.”

ALDO SALAZAR

“Was the application complete?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“It was.”

ALDO SALAZAR

“So it has the required passport photos?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“Yes.”

ALDO SALAZAR

“Did you see anything peculiar or out of order with this particular application?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“The only thing that would have been out of the ordinary would have been the spelling of the name; Kin instead of Kim but like we made mention in the report when we process a passport application we use the source document or the original document because there are plenty of people that make mistakes on their forms and before we tell them to full out another form and find another JP we don’t pay much attention to what they write; because what we use when we create the passport is the original birth paper, the original nationality or the original expired passport which would have on the correct spelling of the name.”

ALDO SALAZAR

“And in this case the source document was what?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“His nationality.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“I’m particularly interested in your first comment about a consultant, what do you mean by that?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“Basically somebody that is doing a transaction on behalf, even though the person is there. It’s mostly done for people like foreigners because Belizeans would come themselves but with foreigners they don’t know the procedures, the process and they would get someone who is more familiar with it and they would do the transactions for them.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“And do you know any consultant by name?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“I can’t say.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“Do you know Patrick Tillet?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“Well I’ve heard of him.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“Do you know Patrick Tillet?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“No I don’t know him.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“Did you see him around immigration?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“No.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“Do you know him as a consultant?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“No”

EAMON COURTENAY

“Good. Do you know Elvin Penner?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“Yes.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“What capacity did he go there that day?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“Well I know he was the minister at the time…”

EAMON COURTENAY

“Right but he didn’t come there to perform any ministerial function did he?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“No.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“So what capacity did he go there as ?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“Well he was doing the transaction.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“So a consultant by your definition?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“I can’t say that senator but that is what he was doing.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“I’m asking you for your evidence. In your perception, this man came before you did you regard im as a consultant doing business on behalf of someone esle at immigration.”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“The way I looked at it at the time he was the Minister.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“What ministerial function did he perform?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“Obviously it wasn’t a ministerial function.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“Right, what function did he perform?”

OMAR PHILLIPS

“To answer your question correctly he was acting as an agent of the person.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“As the agent of the person.”

The senate hearing resumes next Wednesday.