Penner Responds to Questions on Yakup Sut’s Belizean Nationality

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Updated: May 11, 2017

Yesterday, former Minister of State in Immigration, Elvin Penner appeared before the Special Senate Select Committee to answer to statements made in the Auditor General’s report. In the nationality section of the report, the auditor general states that a nationality certificate was fraudulently issued to Yakup Sut. The certificate was signed by Penner. The report states that the former minister had backdated Yakup Sut’s certificate.

ALDO SALAZAR

“First of all recall this application for nationality?”

ELVIN PENNER

“I vaguely recall it yes.”

ALDO SALAZAR

“Did you backdate the certificate?”

ELVIN PENNER

“I did not backdate the certificate.”

ALDO SALAZAR

“Can you explain why say if the serial number is for a period in August why under any legitimate circumstance it would have a series from June?”

ELVIN PENNER

“Well I can say is that I did not backdate that nationality. I have seen in other parts of this report where it even indicates that certain nationality numbers were reserved for people months in advance, there are a lot of irregularities being reported in regards to the recording of the nationality certificates in the records book, there is a lot of irregularities with regards to the initial step not having been taken when the applicant came in to apply where the first step is not taken and it is not even recorded in the citizen’s registry book and like I said I can tell you that I did not backdate it and the only explanation would be is that perhaps the files were not used in sequence.”

During the audit, the audit team attempted to verify that Yakup Sut had met all the requirements in being awarded a Belizean nationality. His file number was given to the nationality records section however up to the time when the audit reports were being compiled, his filed could not be located. Therefore, the audit team was unable to verify that all the necessary documents were in the file and if he had met all requirements to become a citizen of Belize.

EAMON COURTENAY

“Mr. Penner do you understand clearly what the Auditor General is saying about Yakok Sut’s application for nationality?”

ELVIN PENNER

“In terms of it being backdated?”

EAMON COURTENAY

“Well I’m asking you if you understand what she is saying.”

ELVIN PENNER

“I do believe so.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“Let me ask you this question, did Mr. Sut qualify for Belizean nationality?”

ELVIN PENNER

“As far as I can recall he did, like I said before the procedures that are filed goes through from the day of application to the day of approval were all met and like I said with regard to Mr. Kim’s file if you would locate the file itself you would see that all physical evidence indicating his qualification for a nationality were in that file minuted by Mr. Wade, minuted by Ms. Marin before I signed that nationality.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“You did the due diligence on his file?”

ELVIN PENNER

“Yes I did.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“Did you disclose to anyone that you knew Mr. Sut before you did the due diligence?”

ELVIN PENNER

“No did not.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“Did he qualify?”

ELVIN PENNER

“According to what was in the file he met all qualifications.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“And you satisfied yourself of that Mr. Penner?”

ELVIN PENNER

“Yes.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“Are you sure?”

ELVIN PENNER

“Yes.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“Would you like to review the file again or are you sticking with that answer?”

ELVIN PENNER

“I would love to see that file.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“You would love to see the file. Can you tell us how it is that the certificate of nationality just simply does not have the correct date? The correct serial number matching the date?”

ELVIN PENNER

“Like I said the only explanation I could give is that they did not follow the sequence of serial numbers they should have.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“And that did not occur to you when you were doing the due diligence?”

ELVIN PENNER

“I do not look at the file number in terms of when I sign a nationality I look at the qualifications.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“You look at the qualifications and you were satisfied in relation to him?”

ELVIN PENNER

“Yes.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“Where was Mr. Sut’s permanent’s address?”

ELVIN PENNER

“I don’t know where his permanent address was in Belize.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“So basically you don’t recall the content of the file?”

ELVIN PENNER

“I would not recall the contents of the file.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“You performed the final vetting of the file and you were the one who approved his nationality; is that correct?”

ELVIN PENNER

“I would have had to because he applied during the period that I was responsible for immigration.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“Right. Did you or did you not approve his nationality.”

ELVIN PENNER

“Yes I did.”

According to the auditor general, no evidence that Yakup Sut paid the nationality fee of three hundred Belize dollars was found.