Fraud in Immigration Department- Fake PR Cards Found
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Trade, Eamon Courtenay, today confirmed to reporters that fraud has been detected in the ministry of immigration. As we have been reporting, nine Chinese Nationals were recently deported via the PGIA after it was discovered that they had fake Permanent Residency cards. Minister Courtenay confirmed that fraudulent activities occurred under the current PUP Administration. There is an active investigation into the matter and there is reasonable suspicion that there are more fake public residence cards out there. A senior officer of the Crime Investigate Branch is part of the investigation. The Chinese were interrogated and during that process, one of them divulged how they got the fake immigration card. Minister Courtenay says that this is a clear case of fraud.
Eamon Courtenay ,Minister of Immigration: “What we have seen took place under the present administration. The investigation is ongoing and I don’t know how far up or down it will go. I have been shown files where it is clear as day that fraud has been committed, permanent residence cards have been issued fraudulently. Those that we have seen have been cancelled and it is my expectation that there will be an investigation and a report by the police and I would hope that whoever was involved in it will have their day in court. It only came to the fore because there is a daily monitoring of flights coming into Belize and the place of origin and in very late December it was observed that an unusually high number of Chinese nationals were coming from a specific part of China which is not where most Chinese come from who come to Belize. That was flagged by the Director who informed me and we asked for the files and it became immediately apparent that fraud had been committed and from there the investigations have proceeded.”
This is a huge black eye for the Department of Immigration which under the previous administration was plagued with corruption and fraudulent activities. Minister Courtenay says he is disappointed with what was done. He explains how the fraud was detected and when.
Eamon Courtenay ,Minister of Immigration: “I am. I am very disappointed. I am aggrieved, to use your word. I don’t want to say too much Jules because unlike the ComPol I prefer to let paper and let witnesses do the talking and not to say anything that will prejudice ongoing investigations. But what we have seen is serious and we have put in place measures to address it and we have to put in place — you see when you set out to issue a fraudulent document there are not many systems that can prevent you from issuing that document it is only when the document is used that we say wait what is this ? Go back to the files. So it’s very difficult up front to prevent it. What we have to do is to more closely monitor persons arriving in Belize with permanent residence or leaving Belize with permanent resident cards. In this particular case we also, I believe as a result of what we’re seeing, have to have much closer monitoring of the files. A very clever scheme has been used in these instances and as I say I don’t want to get into the details but it is very difficult to catch what has been done until the person uses the card to come in or out and so it’s a very serious matter and we are looking into it. We are also of course, and I can say this, looking at all of those cards to see whether and to go back over files to see whether anybody would have gotten nationality on the basis that they had one of these cards which we were not aware of that purports to say they have been here for five years and then applied for nationality. If we find that they will be cancelled.”