Minister Heredia says there was no special relationship with Harmouch family

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Updated: July 12, 2017

Minister Manuel Heredia also answered questions relating to the several recommendations he made as noted in the auditor general reports. According to the auditor general, Khodr Harmouch, the Honorary Consul of Belize in Tripoli Lebanon wrote letters to Minister Manuel Heredia to intervene in the nationality process of persons with the same Harmouche surname. The audit team noted that there seem to be a special connection between Harmouch and Heredia in order to have the three members of the Harmouche family acquire Belizean nationality.

Manuel Heredia – Minister of Tourism
“If they are suggesting that I instructed or asked for a file, I can openly say that is not so. My job is to recommend, I consider it my job to check into whatever receipts different people give me I will go and check into that. If there are irregularities in the application that is not my job to check to see that is the job of the officers in charge to check. If something was wrong then they shouldn’t have qualified this person if anything was wrong. I have never instructed and will never instruct anyone to say ‘look it doesn’t qualify but go ahead and grant.” Definitely I have never requested any file I don’t think I have the power to request any file. Like I have been mentioning and have mentioned time and time again I will just ask to the information concerning that particular persons ‘BNA what is the status and then once I am given this person needs to bring this and the other I will inform the person as to what they need, if it completed then I will inform them that it is completed pending a nationality swearing in and then that person will have to come and do the swearing in. At no point will I ever ask. I have done hundreds of recommendations from different persons not just the Harmouchs, trying to show over there that the Harmouchs were someone special to me. Across the board Central Americans, Americans, Canadians a number of them that know me and that I have known I have recommended or I have ever asked for any particular files to be pulled out for my convenience I would never do that.”

According to Heredia, he received no benefits as result if his intervention in the Hamouche matter.

Senator Michel Chebat
“Would it be a coincidence that within days of your intervention on behalf of Samir Harmouch and Ahmad Harmouch that Minister Perdomo signed off on their nationality certificates?”

Manuel Heredia – Minister of Tourism
“Not so. I will never ask anyone of my colleagues responsible to go ahead and do something that hasn’t fulfilled the time or hasn’t been vetted the right way or whatever.

Senator Michel Chebat
“So it would be a surprise to you that they got it within a few days after your intervention.

Manuel Heredia – Minister of Tourism
“If they get it for over there then that is for the Minister or the persons who are vetting to see that it is right or if anything is wrong but they are the ones that really are supposed to if something’s not right then they need to put it aside. Even if myself would go in and say ‘look can you please facilitate.’ they shouldn’t do it.”

Senator Michel Chebat
“So your intervention didn’t have any impact on them getting their nationality?

Manuel Heredia – Minister of Tourism
“Not to my knowledge.”
Senator Michel Chebat
“Not to your knowledge. You said you were providing a service Minister what benefit was there to you for this service?”

Manuel Heredia – Minister of Tourism
“Repeat the question.”

Senator Michel Chebat
“Earlier on you said that from 1994 you have been providing services and so I am asking you what benefit did you have in intervening on behalf of Samir and Ahmed Harmouche.”

Manuel Heredia – Minister of Tourism
“Not only for them, in general.”

Senator Michel Chebat
“But I am asking you specifically about those two. What benefit did you have?”

Manuel Heredia – Minister of Tourism
“To be very honest I don’t see why it has anything special with even though it appears over there I have never done anything special for one or the other. I go ahead and check for everyone that requests from me.

Senator Michel Chebat

“So your answer is that there was no benefit?”

Manuel Heredia – Minister of Tourism
“But personal benefit?

Senator Michel Chebat
“No personal benefit?”

Manuel Heredia – Minister of Tourism
“No personal benefit from anyone. I and I think I said it why I have been very successful is because I provide services free of cost.”

Senator Michel Chebat
“Right and Minister would it then be any coincidence or surprise to you that within a day or two after Samir and Ahmed got their nationality they went to register as voters in your constituency?

Manuel Heredia – Minister of Tourism
“Well like I said most of the people on the island as soon as they get there, Central Americans , Americans, Canadians, as soon as they get it the two things that they do is that they get their ID and get their passport.”

Senator Michel Chebat
“So this was the benefit in providing the service?”

Manuel Heredia – Minister of Tourism
“I wouldn’t say that. Indeed if they got it, it was a benefit for them but if they didn’t qualify then they shouldn’t have gotten.

Senator Michel Chebat
“No; but that is not my question.

Manuel Heredia – Minister of Tourism
“But don’t blame Minister Heredia for someone getting a nationalities if there were irregularities blame the people that are in charge.

Senator Michel Chebat
“No that is not my question, you see there is a clear pattern established with these Harmouches; you intervened on their behalf within a few days of your intervention they got their nationality certificates and within a few days of getting their nationality certificates they registered in your division as voters in your decision and so there was a benefit to you personally.”

Manuel Heredia – Minister of Tourism
“Well if you want to call it so call it so but I don’t regard it as such I think their rightful duty if they want to get registered within hours of receiving their nationality….

Senator Michel Chebat
“This were not their way of repaying you for your service?”

Manuel Heredia – Minister of Tourism
“I don’t regard. I would never and probably you might not know me but your brother knows me well what type of person I am. I will never get personal benefit for doing a favor.

Minister Heredia appeared with attorney Estevan Perrera.