Ministry of Natural Resources Investigates Land Fraud Allegations After Businessman’s Murder
The Ministry of Natural Resources is probing into allegations of land fraud made by recently murdered businessman, Ricardo Borja, in a leaked audio. Before being gunned down in Belize City, Borja turned informant, and met with investigators to explain a corrupt land scheme reportedly carried out by a real estate company and persons at the Lands Department. In the audio testament, Borja claimed government workers had assisted him in facilitating corrupt land transactions. Today, for the first time since the leak, Minister of Natural Resources Cordel Hyde weighed in on the allegations within his ministry and explained that the alleged scheme highlights the need for improvements at the department.
Cordel Hyde, Deputy Prime Minister: “As far as I know there’s an active police investigation because it’s a murder case, someone died and I’ve directed our people to cooperate fully with whatever, whenever, however the police wants our help ultimately at the end of that investigation if wrongdoing has been found to have taken place there are stiff penalties for that whether by the law, whether by public service regulations. We don’t condone that kind of wrong doing, we don’t support that at all and we’ve been very clear with our people. Of course you know it’s a collation of allegations but we take it very seriously. We’ve gotten some advice from the Attorney General’s ministry and in terms of our own internal work we are looking at all the instruments inside our ministry examining those very closely to see all the instruments that may have involved participation from this deceased and to see whether we uncover anything that investigation or that examination, we don’t want to call it investigation because police does investigation, that examination is ongoing. Once we discovery anything that is amiss then there are penalties for that but that’s where we are right now. Ultimately this forces us to take a critical look at our internal processes how we can make those tighter, how we can reduce the chances for this kind of wrongdoing or this kind of allegations. Again it’s allegations nothing has been proven just yet and we are looking critically at that. The police is doing their investigation and we have direction from the Attorney General’s ministry and as soon as something is discovered we will respond accordingly.”
Hyde further explained that one of the department’s legal minds is looking at the allegations and stated that there is no concrete evidence at this point to prove anyone committed any wrongdoings.
Cordel Hyde, Deputy Prime Minister: “Actually it’s our legal counsel that’s doing that investigation for us you know ? We do have multiple legal counsels and one of our legal counsel is leading that charge just to verify whether anything amiss happened there. Whether it’s just a collation of allegations or whether something really really happen whether we can uncover a smoking gun or something but until that point we have to wait and see.”
Reporter: So then have people been called in to be questioned ?
Cordel Hyde, Deputy Prime Minister: “He’s doing a full review. He’s doing a full examination. Our legal counsel. We have multiple legal counsels, it’s a he’s doing this exercise. But yeah in the course of doing that examination he would have to speak to multiple persons, he would have to take a look at physical instruments, he would have to go in the system, he has to do an exhaustive thing to see whether anything happened that should not have happened but that process is ongoing.”
Reporter: But in other cases you’ve had people go on administrative leave based on the allegations that have been made against them and so that the review or investigation process can be not biased and can be objective.
Cordel Hyde, Deputy Prime Minister: “Yeah but those records are internal records. Those records are on our system. If there is any contamination of the records we’d be able to discover that that’s what the examination is all about but I can’t say what he’s found so far we’re awaiting that report. You’re gonna have people who do the wrong things and that’s what we’re trying to discover whether in this particular case whether it goes beyond an allegation, whether there is something there that we can work with. We live in a country where people are innocent until proven guilty. Anybody can say anything but until you discover that wrongdoing then what are you supposed to do ? We can’t victimize people.”
Police are yet to charge anyone for Borja’s murder.